Perhaps one of the most iconic cars ever – the Volkswagen Beetle. The 2015 Beetle I drove was wrapped in a tornado red exterior and came with the R-Line® trim package which includes the lightening quick 2.0L TSI® DOHC 16-valve turbocharged 4-cycline engine matted to a 6-speed manually shifted transmission. Fun and nostalgic!!!
You can’t review the Beetle without including a little bit of history. First produced in 1938, production of the old-school Beetle continued up until about 2003 when the last Mexican-build Beetle was produced. Production totaled over 21 million Type 1 Beetles with the final original Type 1 Beetle rolling off the production line in Puebla, Mexico on July 30th, 2003. Production of the Beetle sedan for US markets ended in mid 1977 and early 1980 for the convertibles. Americans would have to wait about 17 years for VW to introduce the New Beetle in 1997.
The production of the first generation of the “New Beetle” ran from 1997-2011 with the second generation, now called just the Volkswagen Beetle, running from 2012 to the present. If you haven’t been in the current Beetle, it’s a huge change from the old “New Beetle” (and of course quite a bit different from the old Type 1’s).
My first experience with the VW beetle was a 1974 Super Beetle Convertible originally painted yellow (with a fairly old powder blue re-paint). It was my high school girlfriend’s car; she lived three doors down. I can still remember the distinctive exhaust notes coming out of its 1600cc, horizontally opposed, four-cylinder rear mounted engine from my room when she would drive by my house. I learned a lot about love from that Super Beetle. The love of cars I mean. At the time I was 15 (my girlfriend 16) so I wasn’t able to legally drive it. So I spent most of my time in the passenger seat. Well maybe a little time in the back seat too.
Fast forward more than 40 years later and we have the 2015 Beetle R-Line. Its everything the Type 1 Beetle was and everything that it wasn’t. Volkswagen has maintained the iconic nature of the old Type 1 Beetle but upgraded it to what we have come to expect in a modern day car – like bolting the front seats to the floor for example (unlike the 1974 Super Beetle).
The interior is flat out huge compared to the Type 1 and quite a bit more spacious then the old “New Beetle”. By shrinking the dash (it was absolutely huge in the New Beetle) and moving the front seats closer to the front of the vehicle VW has opened the cabin up such that it feels spacious, even in the back seat (which I spent a little time in just to be nostalgic, but this time she wasn’t 16 (and I wasn’t 15)). The simulated carbon fiber inserts on the dash gives it a racing look and the three gauge cluster (oil temperate, clock/stop watch, turbo) located center dash is retro and cool. The D-shaped leather wrapped steering wheel feels great. The huge moon roof gives it a convertible feel and helps give the interior the spacious feel (without all the wind). The infotainment screen while small felt appropriately sized and included a useful backup camera.
The turbocharged four-cylinder engine and the 6-speed manual shift transmission made the drivability of the 2015 Beetle fun and exciting – very unlike the old 1600cc four-cylinder of my Super Beetle that cranked out a miserly 60 horsepower. The steering is tight and fun and exactly what you have come to expect from Volkswagen. If you loved the old Beetle (or even the New Beetle), for $29,495, the 2015 Beetle R-Line® is the Beetle for you (unless you can find a mint condition 1974 powder blue Super Beetle convertible – if so please let me know).