2013 VW Beetle TDI

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The latest Beetle (new but no longer “New”) is more than an economy-minded car. It got bigger last year – as well as sportier and more luxurious.TDI lead

Sexy, even.

And now the TDI diesel engine – absent from the roster since 2006 – has been reintroduced for 2013.

But, again, the emphasis has shifted.

The TDI engine is bigger (2.0 liters vs. 1.9) and more powerful (140 hp vs. 100) andis now as much about performance as it is about economy. Here’s why:

Though its EPA rating of 31 city/41 highway is excellent, it’s no longer exceptional. There are several gas-powered cars on the market that come close to delivering what the Beetle’s TDI engine can, MPG-wise. For example, the Fiat 500: 31 city, 40 highway; the Mini Cooper: 29 city, 37 highway. Or, the Mazda3 SkyActive: 27 city, 38 highway.

Given that diesel fuel now costs on average 30-40 cents more per gallon than unleaded regular gas  (thanks to the government and its “ultra low sulfur fuel” mandates; more on this below) a merely 41 MPG-capable diesel car is probably a harder sell – on the basis of economy as the main consideration – when stacked up against a 38 MPG gas-powered car that costs 30-40 cents less per gallon to fill up – and which (as in the case of cars like the Fiat 500 and Mini Cooper) also costs several thousand dollars less to buy, too.

So, the latest iteration of the TDI Beetle offers more than merely economical operation.

Because it must.TDI multi


The TDI Beetle is the diesel-powered version of the Beetle – which since the 2012 redesign has been just “Beetle” (not New Beetle).

Like the gas-engined version of the Beetle, the TDI Beetle is available in both coupe and convertible bodystyles and with either manual or automatic (automated manual) transmissions.

Unlike the gas-engined versions of the Beetle – which are so-so when it comes to gas mileage – the TDI Beetle offers excellent economy of operation along with very good performance. Better performance, in fact, than all other Beetles except the 2.0 turbo (gas engine) Beetle.

Prices start at $23,295 for the TDI with six-speed manual transmission. Adding the optionally available six-speed automated manual bumps that up to $24,395.TDI convertible

With the automatic, sunroof and GPS, a TDI Beetle hardtop coupe stickers out at $27,295.

A convertible TDI Beetle starts at $27,895 – and tops out (with the automatic and GPS) at $30,295.

Because there are so few diesel-powered cars on the market – especially at this price point – and because there’s no other car that’s a Beetle – this car hasn’t really got any direct competition. The Fiat 500 is similar in terms of retro-revisitation – but it is a much, much smaller car.

Ditto the Mini Cooper.


The TDI diesel engine returns to the Beetle’s engine lineup after a seven year hiatus. Also new is an available Fender Signature trim package with a dashboard inspired by the legendary rock n’ roll guitars.


TDI diesel is larger – and stronger – than before.

It’s a powerful performer as well as an efficient performer.

New, more macho bodywork should appeal equally well to men as well as women.


TDI’s mileage is great… compared to a gas-engined Beetle. Not so much when compared to other manufacturer’s gas-powered cars.

New, more macho-looking Beetle has lost some of its harmless & cute”Beetleness.”


The 2013 TDI Beetle’s engine displaces 2.0 liters and produces 140 hp and 236 lbs.-ft. of torque at just 1,750 RPM. The previous version (2006) of the Beetle TDI engine displaced 1.9 liters – and made only 100 hp. The extra CCs and hp gives the latest diesel Beetle excellent off-the-line grunt – but unlike diesel engines of the past, the TDI engine is also a (comparatively) high RPM engine. It redlines at about 5,100 RPM – which is about where most gas engines redlined until quite recently. It is also very heavily turbocharged. The factory gauge indicates up to 35 psi of boost. For some perspective, most turbocharged gas engines are fed no more than about 10-12 pounds of boost.

The TDI diesel is still a compression ignition (as opposed to spark ignition) engine, but it gets much of its compression via the turbo rather than static mechanical compression. The net result is a diesel engine that behaves more like a peppy gas engine  – or rather, which combines the inherent advantages of a diesel engine’s low-RPM torque production with a gas engine’s freer-revving characteristics up top. What you get is an engine that pulls strong down low, as a diesel ought to  – but doesn’t run out of breath in the higher ranges of the RPM band.TDI shift

The TDI can be teamed up with either a six-speed manual transmission (standard) or VW’s six-speed automated manual. The latter combines the efficiencies of a manual gearbox with the ease-of-use of an automatic. From the driver’s perspective, it works exactly like a conventional (hydraulic) automatic. There is no clutch – for the driver. Just move the shifter to “D” (or “S” sport mode) and proceed.

Performance-wise, the TDI Beetle gets to 60 in just over 8 seconds, making it quicker than the base gas-engined version of the Beetle (9 seconds to 60) as well as much more fuel-efficient. The TDI rates 28 city, 41 highway (with the manual six-speed; DSG versions post 29 city, 39 highway) vs. 22 city, 29 highway for the 2.5 liter, gas-engined Beetle.

All Beetles are FWD.


Maybe you have memories of diesel-powered cars – bad memories. Forget them. This diesel-powered car is – first of all – quieter than some gas-powered cars I’ve driven lately. Many 2013 model year gas-powered cars have direct-injected engines. These tick-tick-tick at idle – some quite audibly. The TDI is direct-injected, too – but amazingly, it is either quieter than gas-direct-injected engines or as quiet as they are.

Under way, too – despite very high pressure turbocharging. There is no audible whistle – and unlike many gas-powered turbocharged cars, no flat spots down low until the boost builds, followed by a sudden surge of power. The TDI is strong throughout its operating range – and with 30 more lbs.-ft of torque than the available gas turbo engine – and all of it available at 1,750 RPM – the TDI actually feels stronger coming off the line, even if the turbo gas-engined Beetle will ultimately get to 60 more quickly. And the TDI walks away from the non-turbo, gas-engined Beetle (2.5 liter engine) which only has 177 lbs.-ft of torque – and which doesn’t peak until 4,250 RPM.TDI road 2

The TDI’s gearing allows 80 MPH at just over 2,000 RPM. You can reach triple digit speeds before you reach 3,000 RPM. The result is a vehicle that continues to deliver very high MPGs even at very high speeds. This is something none of the hybrids are good at, by the way. Run a Prius up to 80 and set the cruise – and you can forget about those 50-something MPG claims. Work a Prius hard and real-world mileage will dip into the low-mid 30s. Trust me. But the TDI Beetle will still return 40 (or better) even at high speeds – and that’s pretty solid.

The car feels – and is – bigger, more solidly planted than previously. Amazingly, it is only slightly heavier. A 2006 New Beetle TDI’s curb weight is 3,016 lbs. The 2013 Beetle TDI – a significantly larger car (more on this below) only weighs 3,073 lbs. Thus, the additional displacement – and power – of the 2013 version of the bigger 2.0 TDI engine goes toward better performance rather than dealing with extra poundage.

Still, if this car weighed 2,800 lbs it’d be quicker still – and more to the point, a lot more economical to boot. The original Beetle only weighed about 1,500 lbs.  Imagine the performance – and economy – a 2.0 liter TDI engine might deliver in that wrapper… .


How much bigger is this Beetle? 7.3 inches longer overall (168.4 inches vs. 161.1 previously) with about an inch more wheelbase (99.9 inches vs. 98.7 inches) and – the big one – it’s  3.3 inches wider through the hips (71.2 inches vs. 67.9 before). The width is immediately noticeable from inside the car. Where the old New Beetle was a little tight – most definitely a compact – the 2013 Beetle feels mid-sized.

It has nearly two inches more front seat legroom than before (41.3 inches vs. 39.4) and about half an inch more headroom (39.4 inches vs. 38.2) which is surprising given the new car’s “chopped” roofline. However – and just as surprising – the upsized 2013 Beetle’s backseat legroom is less than the old model’s: 31.4 inches vs 33.5 inches before. Possibly, backseat legroom was sacrificed in the 2013 to allow for a larger cargo area behind the backseats, where there is now a mid-sized car’s 15.4 cubic feet of capacity vs. the old New Beetle’s compact car-sized 12 cubic foot trunk.TDI cross view

The net of it all is the 2013 is roomier-feeling for two (and can carry more stuff). Given this kind of car is not generally purchased with a view toward routinely carrying more than two people (driver and front-seat passenger) the diminished back seat real estate is probably a trade-off most potential buyers will be ok with.

What may not be ok with some potential buyers – or at least, traditional Beetle buyers – is the newly macho ‘tude of the car. The old New Beetle (1998-2011) may have had very little in common functionally with the original Beetle (front engine, FWD and water-cooled vs. rear-engined, air-cooled and RWD) but it channeled the non-threatening, unassuming and friendly demeanor of the original perfectly. The old New Beetle – with its happy face and dash-mounted flower vase – was as innocuous as a sunny spring day.   It was very hard to hate it – and most people at least liked it in principle.

The problem was, mostly only women bought it.TDI cluster

VW wants the other half of the potential market. You know – dudes. And dudes – for the most part – want a car that’s not perceived as a chick’s car. Hence the 2012 restyle, which is slicker, wider, lower and much sportier – almost proto-Porsche. The less-tall side glass and sharply raked windshield vs the old car’s bubble canopy is especially striking. It reminds me of the 356 Speedster – and who knows? Maybe that was the inspiration.

Personally, I like it. With just one small nit: The combination of the “chopped” roof, super tiny rearview miror and super-huge backseat headrests (as per Uncle’s anti-whiplash requirements) leaves a mere keyhole of rearward visibility that can be disconcerting at times.TDI inside THis is an issue with a lot of new cars, by the way. Basically, the government has decided that roof-crush strength (and protection against whiplash) is more important than the driver’s being able to see what’s going on around him. You can thank your congressman the next time you see him.

Inside, the changes are even more dramatic. Gone is the 1998-2011 Beetle’s basic, one-piece main gauge cluster with wide sweeping speedo and much smaller – almost accessory – tach/gas gauges underneath. In keeping with the new emphasis on performance, the tach is now twice as big as it used to be – and instead of being almost an afterthought and hidden from view beneath the speedo, it now sits prominently to its left. On the other side of the speedo is an equally up-sized fuel gauge. Up high – on top of the dash, to the right of the main cluster – is stacked an accessory cluster with oil temperature and turbo boost gauges – as well as a stopwatch you can use to time your antics with.  Beyond the purely functional design changes, the materials used are of higher quality (or at least, appear to be) and VW has taken to emulating the newly re-popular styling accent of body-colored interior trim plates, such as the dash surround and upper door trim. The Fender package replaces these body-colored pieces with a handsome wood applique that looks like the high-end guitars’ fret board.TDI comsole

The steering wheel is now very GTI-like, with a flat-spotted bottom much smaller central horn button/air bag blob. There are also two gloveboxes now – an upper and a lower.  The center console is a little busy – the twin cupholders get crowded by the pull-up parking brake lever and the drop-down arm rest (which also has a small storage cubby built into it).TDI accessory gauges

In sum, the car has been sexed up.

Luxed up, too.

You can order: panorama sunroof, premium Fender stereo rig (to go with the guitar-themed trim plates), GPS, leather interior, Bi-Xenon headlights (with LED DRLs), 19 inch wheel-tire package, multi-stage seat heaters, push-button keyless start … equipment only high-end cars had (and even then, some of this stuff hadn’t been invented yet)  when the original Beetle was still being sold. That car was a bare-bones transportation unit with a barely operable heater. Forget heated leather seats. But the original Beetle was much loved despite its antiquity and crudity because it was inherently likable – and dirt cheap to buy and drive.

This one is a much nicer car in every respect. But then, it ought to be – given a loaded example can easily approach $30k. Even the base $19k Beetle is not an inexpensive car relative to the numerous cars available for around $13-15k or so. Which is why the latest Beetle is such a nice Beetle.

It pretty much has to be. Or rather, it better be.

THE RESTTDI conv. side

The last time you could get a new (that is, not used) Beetle with a diesel engine was 2006 – not because the TDI-equipped Beetle wasn’t popular (it was) but because VW (like every other automaker) faced almost-insurmountable problems “certifying” a diesel-powered anything for sale in all 50 states. Some states – major markets, like California – had different (and stricter) tailpipe emissions laws than others. That meant one car for California – and another the rest of the country. It was too cumbersome – and too expensive – to bother with. Brands – like VW – that sell vast fleets of diesel-powered vehicles in Europe simply threw their hands up in exasperation.

Now there is “low sulfur” (and thus, low emissions) diesel fuel available nationwide – and this makes it feasible to once again sell diesel powered cars like the TDI Beetle nationwide. Because they meet with Uncle’s approval.

But, there’s a catch.TDI rearview

The low-emissions low sulfur fuel is more expensive to brew – which is why diesel now costs more than regular unleaded gas. This has undermined the economic case for diesel-powered cars as an alternative to gas-powered cars – especially now that many gas-powered cars are posting EPA MPG stats very close to what a car like the Beetle TDI can deliver – such as the Fiat 500, Mini Cooper and Mazda3 SkyActive mentioned earlier.

Then, on top of this, you have to pay more to get the diesel. $3,500 more, to be precise. That is the difference in MSRP between the standard-issue, gas-engined 2013 Beetle ($19,795) and the TDI Beetle ($23,295). To soften the blow somewhat,  VW has “contented” the TDI with additional equipment that isn’t included in the base price of the $19k gas-engined Beetle,  including most noticeably a six-speed gearbox vs. the Beetle 2.5’s five-speed transmission. You also get satellite radio standard.

Still, $3,500 more up front plus 30-40 cents more per gallon at every fill-up may prove to be a problem for the sales prospects of this otherwise appealing car.TDI sexy

If the best gas-engined cars were still making only low 30s on the highway – and if diesel fuel still cost the same (or less) than gas, then the economic advantages of a car like the TDI would be inarguable.

Unfortunately, that’s not the case at the moment. This may change if the cost of regular unleaded soars to $5 a gallon – -which it very well might. And if you plan on driving your new TDI for 300k, probably you will come out ahead in the end. And there is also the fact that the TDI engine is simply a great engine.  It’s much stronger-feeling than the Beetle’s base gas engine – and vastly more fuel-efficient than the Beetle’s optional turbo gas engine.


It’s good to have the TDI back in the mix.

But it’d be even better if it could deliver 50 MPG.

Throw it in the Woods?

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  1. Ah, here was that thread…

    So I bit the bullet and bought a 2013 Jetta diesel wagon, manual transmission.

    Couple of things came up in my shakedown of the car.

    1 – NO EDR!!! Whoo Hoo!!!


    2 – The timing belt service on the 2.0 TDI is not due until 130,000 miles.

    So far so good, love driving the car, and just beating around town, mixed rural/suburban driving, it’s getting around 42 – 43 MPG.

  2. methylamine,

    Ferrari gear drive camshafts?

    Ford, 300 cid, inline six. 😉

    Well, the recommended service interval for the 2.0 TDI timing belt is 80,000 miles. That’s not too bad I guess. I had some reservations because I read, can’t recall where or how accurate it was, that the belt replacement required swinging the engine.

    I’m talking myself into the damn thing, and so far nobody is talking me out of it.


    Does VW use any standard equipment Big Brother boxes?

    I’m thinking OnStar or some bastard half cousin of that…

      • Yup, I keep two of them in service, in two old F-150s of mine. The early models had a steel gear set, that was replaced in later ones with a polymer/Bakelite combination of some sort. Not sure which year they made the switch. Love those engines, damn near as reliable and “torqy” as a diesel and will last forever, with routine service.

        The only modern update on both of them, was the addition of a Davis Unified Ignition system (some of the best car part money I ever spent). One had a DuraSpark II ignition, that went in the parts heap, the other a breaker points ignition that I rebuilt and stashed on the shelf, just in case.

      • Eric,

        Thanks for the reply, I had figured as much, and as much as it chaps my ass, at least an EDR won’t broadcast vehicle positions or facilitate a remote shutdown.

  3. “You can thank your congressman the next time you see him.”
    Oh, I will…I think a swift kick in the nuts should express my appreciation sufficiently.

    On another note, and speaking of nuts…can the Beetle be “contented” with the blonde in the photo, Eric? Now THERE’s an “up-sell”!

    I’m tempted by these wonderful new diesels. Quiet, non-smelly, torquey, and quick now too…lots to love.

    Holy. Shit. 35 psi?? Surely you’re joking, Eric? How do they keep the heads on? I remember in the heyday of turbo F1 in the 80’s, Honda was running 60 psi in their 1.5 liter four-banger. But 35 in a road car? It’s brutal. The damn thing’s not a piston engine, it’s a turbine engine–just get rid of the pistons and be honest about it!

    Very interesting car. Very tempting.

    I do wonder a bit, though; diesel engines are renowned for super longevity, but with that much boost will it remain reliable?

    • I’m curious about that as well, and one of few things holding me back on this VW purchase.

      I recall Johnson and Towers (they built high performance Detroit Diesels for marine use) pulling 1000 HP out of a 6-71 DD.

      Of course, they wouldn’t last long.

  4. OK…so I’m about to violate one of my core principles here:


    The reason?

    I test drove the Jetta TDI wagon, and was amazed at how well it drove, after fully expecting a 2000cc, four banger diesel, in a car that size, to be an absolute dog.

    So now I am hunting up a 2013 Jetta wagon with the diesel and manual trans.

    What does the E.P.A. community have to say about the Jetta wagon?

    Anything I should watch out for with VWs? (be my first one if I buy this thing.)

    • I recommend asking at Fred’s TDIClub.

      It is a good community with people knowledgeable about TDI vehicles.

      I had a 2001 Golf (TDI 1.9L). Car was great to drive and I consistently did better than 45mpg regardless of how I drove.

      Big negative is the timing belt. Due to the interference design of the engine, you need (as a precaution) to change several parts when the timing belt is changed. If not, there is a risk of damaging the engine. (I found out the hard way.)

      • Thanks, looking around that site right now.

        Damn the engineer who thought interfering heads would be a good idea.

        I can speculate, but what damage was done when yours let go.

        • There’s just no way around it, AF.
          To get the compression ratios we love today–mine’s 11.5, and the new Mazda engine is pushing 13–there’s just no way to keep the valves off the pistons if they free-float with so little room in the chamber.

          I suppose it could be done with big enough valve reliefs in the pistons, but I bet it would screw up the flow characteristics.

          Even turbo engines are interference designs nowadays; used to be their compression was very low to compensate for the boost, but they’re up at 10 too.

          We might complain about the expensive computers running everything…but thank god for modern ECU’s and the miracle of detonation-free boost and high compression!

          • True enough, but I would be inclined to look into geared camshafts, perhaps.

            Something a little more robust than a rubber and polymer belt, given the catastrophic engine failure (gah, I hate those words) that results from a belt failure.

          • AF,

            As far as I know, only Ferrari makes geared cams…and oh, the delicious symphony of noises they make! The F430 at idle sounds like two sport bikes side-by-side going 100mph.


            Careful what you wish for, though. Those belts are remarkably durable. OTOH, the chains in my M5 will last forever…but the chain guides might not, having a five-pound chain slinging past them at ungodly speeds for 100K miles.

            In short, they wear out. Sure, the chain’s still fine; but the tolerances go out of spec when the chain guides are excessively worn, and it’s a helluva lot more expensive to fix than a belt.

            Just remember to replace it! 🙂

        • in a nutshell, to fix the damage would require about USD $5,000-$6,000 to repair. Several valves and rods were damaged.

  5. I can see the 356 DNA you talk about too Eric but the first thing that popped into my head was the PT Cruiser. I thought to myself “Ah! so that’s what happens when you leave a PT Cruiser in the garage overnight with your 911!”

    Probably just an optical illusion, then again paternity tests could be in order.

    Your review of a VW/Audi turbo was timely for me. It attracted my attention because I’m fixing an Audi 1.8L turbo this week. I just discovered the bolts that connect the turbo inlet to the exhaust manifold on an A4 are prone to backing out *on their own*. It turns out this is a well known problem in older A4’s. I was very happy to find out I didn’t need to buy a new turbocharger.

    Ever hear of Nordlock washers? From literature they seem to be the fix for the problem but they’re really expensive and I wonder if it’s hype?

    • Hi Badger,

      “Ah! so that’s what happens when you leave a PT Cruiser in the garage overnight with your 911!””

      Love it!

      On the bolts: Coincidentally, I just got back in the office after re-tightening the exhaust bolts at the manifold flange in my Trans-Am. I had the car out a few days ago for the first time since January and immediately noticed the sound of a leak. The bolts had backed out on their own, as seems to happen fairly frequently. One was almost all the way backed off its threads.

      I’ve never used Nordlock washers; my solution in the past has been to either use safety wire (PITAS) or metal tabs that lock the bolt in place. Japanese bikes from the ’70s is where I got that idea – and have found it works just as well in automotive applications.

      • I’ll check out the PITAS/tab solution next time then. I was mostly asking about the Nordlocks because I was having trouble even finding them. They have a set on Amazon but it would have taken a week to get them to me. This morning I found a local source with an open bag that will deliver them this afternoon so I went with them on spec. I can only hope for the best.

        • Hope it works out!

          Threadlocker is another option, of course. But some applications (possibly turbos – because of heat) warn against using it.

          Safety wire works very well – and you can of course buy bolts pre-drilled to accept the wire. Guys I know who run headers swear this is the best way to keep them from backing out/leaking…

  6. I like the technology of the new TDI, it’s just that I can’t stand for the rest of the VW Experience.

    After having been burned by my 1996 Jetta GLX (lots of repairs, bad dealer), and shopping recently at the local VW dealer (a brand-new Passat had 2 visible defects, and finance guy started arguing with me) there’s no way I’ll ever buy another.

    VW of America are their own worst enemy.

    • Whoops – that was a *1995* Jetta GLX.

      Repairs included: new steering rack, new knock sensor, new airbag (twice), door trim falling off, and several smaller things.

      • The driver’s seat belt was mounted incorrectly — there’s a tab that it fits into so the angle is correct, so it won’t dig into your hip. Guess what?

        The second one was a loose fastener rolling around in the trunk from who-knows-where.

        Both were easily corrected, but certainly weren’t confidence-inspiring. And should have been caught by the dealer prior to the car being put on the lot. Ideally before the dealer received it, honestly.

        So far as the argument — the finance guy insisted that all cars (*all* cars!) depreciate at the same rate. And yet he mentioned how Jeep Wranglers hold their value.

        Cognitive dissonance — he haz it.

  7. I believe I read somewhere that this engine doesn’t have a Urea tank. Can comcone confirm that? If that’s the case, could I use red agricultural diesel, like I do in my tractors, generator, and Dodge Ram? Of course, this would just be to drive the Beetle on my own property and not on public roads.

    • Hi Brian,

      The 2013 Beetle does not have a urea tank. Volkswagen says it is able to meet emissions regulations with a catalytic converter that reduces NOx.

      However, the Passat and Touareg TDI models do use AdBlue – which is sprayed into the exhaust stream to control NOx and must be replenished periodically. Typically that is around every 10,000 miles.

      • No urea tank means that one could use regular diesel, not necessarily the expensive low-sulfur kind, right? Any negative ramifications?

        I think of the same connection between urea/low-sulfur as catalytic converter/unleaded gas. That is, you might break something by putting non-low-sulfer diesel in a urea-enabled system. Is this a correct comparison?

        • Upon a little research, I should correct the above post. The new, more expensive diesel is ultra-low sulfur diesel (ULSD). The kind that’s been available for years has been low-sulfur diesel (LSD).

          Then the question is whether this Beetle (or any TDI) will run on LSD without negative effects. And no mushroom jokes.

          • Not to mention that diesel engines that are designed to run on only ULSD often have injectors that cannot handle the the older, thicker diesel fuels and you may end up clogging your fuel injectors.

          • According to the guys over at Fred’s TDI Club (http://www.tdiclub.com/), running anything but ULSD on a 2008 or newer TDI will void the warranty. This includes any biodiesel blends. That said, there are guys who do it and don’t see any problems. I would think the old stuff would foul the cat converter though.

            • Yup.

              Anything you buy at a pump that’s not marked “off road” should be fine. I’d be careful about using red-dyed “off road” diesel or anything else (bio-diesel, WVO, etc.) even leaving aside the warranty issue – for just the reasons mentioned (problems with the injectors, downstream emissions/particulate trap, etc.)

        • Hi Brian,

          I need to confirm with VW to be certain of this, but I am pretty sure that any currently available “on road” pump diesel is acceptable to use. But no “off road” (red dyed) diesel. That would probably void your warranty as well as possibly cause expensive problems with the particulate filter/emissions system.

  8. After a total of 21,529,464 vehicles had been built around the world, an era in the automotive industry came to an end at Volkswagen’s factory in Puebla, Mexico. It had been the last stand for a Beetle that had defied extermination for decades, the classic Volkswagen. In 39 years, the VW de México plant produced 1.7 million examples of this beloved icon.

    2007 Last Original Beetle Produced In Puebla, MX

    2013 Production In Puebla, MX by Robots & $5.25/hr Assemblers

    2013 Newly Opened Volkswagen Engine Plant In Silao, MX

    3D print yourself a horse and saddle up, keyboard jockeys!

  9. I’m just not really sure I like the new body style any more than the old one. It sort of went from chick car to fat chick car (as in the car itself looks fat, no intended reference to the type of person who may buy it). I’ve never cared for the styling because it’s too cute/cartoonish. I can see why some would say this resembles older Porsches, but I think that speaks more to the original style of the Beetle and other Ferdinand Porsche designs and the fact that this is still trying to be “retro.”

    The original Beetle had a pretty strong male ownership along with females. I suspect it’s because they were much more easily worked on by guys, tweaked, tuned, etc. because they were so darn simple. You could turn one into a Manx, or into a rally car, or whatever you wanted. Sort of the poor man’s muscle car. Today, with cars as impossible to work on or impossibly expensive to repair once out of warranty, and with them rapidly becoming disposable items rather than pieces of equipment you keep for a decade or longer, the main motivation for buying the Beetle over something better is the nostalgia factor. Yet this one definitely takes a half-step away from nostalgia whereas the previous gen was somehow better able to capture the essence of Beetle styling better than even the new Mini did its forbear. That’s a hard act to follow.

    Now that it is a little less special, it will be cross-shopped with better, cheaper vehicles. Fiats and Minis may no longer be the most likely competitors to this Beetle, but rather more pedestrian type vehicles. In fact, VW’s own products will likely “steal” more sales from this updated Beetle because of the loss of some of the styling.

    Nostalgia isn’t what it used to be. The retro craze is fading a bit.

    Objectively, the Golf is a much better vehicle in terms of practicality as well as style, and it has a better range of powertrains. I’m particularly looking forward to the new Golf GTD (basically the diesel version of the GTI). I would love to have a little hot hatch diesel getting 50+ mpg. The Passat would offer better size, comfort, and practicality as well, all for a similar price and vastly better styling. Even the Jetta is a better looking vehicle. As the Beetle continues to drift away from nostalgia, it must compete on its own merits, and it doesn’t really have any that other VW products don’t do better, not to mention other car companies.

    As for the “chopped” roof, it’s an optical illusion. It’s no lower than the previous Beetle’s roofline, it’s just that they stretched the whole cabin by 7 inches, and this created more of a flat spot right above the front passengers. It’s a neat trick, but it doesn’t help the face or the butt of the car look any more masculine. Of course, I’m just one opinion, and I’m sure the research department at VW likely spent thousands of hours and hundreds of thousands of Euros on this very issue. Maybe they’ll have better luck here than with the Greece bailout.

    • Good analysis, SJ – I can’t say I disagree with any of your observations.

      I am a former original Beetle owner and as you say, I can recall lots of guys driving them – for just the reasons you state. They were practical – and kind of like a grown up toy for adult boys. They appealed to the guy who enjoyed fiddling with machinery – especially the younger guy who was on the upswing of the learning curve. You didn’t need a lot of expensive tools to service the thing – or technical skill, either. Remember the “Compleat Idiot” maintenance book? It was the bible for VW owners back in the day. With it – some patience – and a few very basic tools – you could usually fix whatever went wrong with your Beetle yourself. This car was for many in my generation (Gen X) a latter-day Model T.

      I miss it.

      What I’d like to see VW do – alluded to in the article – is pare down the new car’s weight by 500 pounds (1,000 would be even better). Then, 50 MPG (maybe 60) would be possible.

      And then this car would make sense, as a Beetle.

  10. Nice review. I was hoping you’d get around to a TDI sooner or later, and you make excellent points.

    A few points:
    1) One big reason for diesel’s price increase is also because the federal government along with many states have raised the fuel tax in order to make up potentially lost revenue from the more fuel efficient cars. Yes, it is more expensive to make diesel, but refineries have had years to get the added filtering equipment installed and working. When I was looking at buying my A3 TDI 2 years ago, in Colorado the price of low-sulfur diesel and regular unleaded was within a few cents. Now it’s getting hard to find it on par with premium (which is what you’d be running on a Audi gas engine). I also think there’s more demand and that tends to drive up prices as well.

    2) VW/Audi has a 1.6L TDI that they won’t sell in the US, I think because it would need bluetech or something. The nice thing about the 1.6 is you could get an A3 TDI Quattro that would get around 50MPG from a AWD vehicle!

    3) The TDI engines (and all diesels) make a ton of low end torque. That’s why it feels so much more peppy when compared to the gasser. Also VW/Audi has done a lot of work on their turbocharger design, giving it variable fins on the intake to adjust the airflow. This way they don’t need a 2 stage turbo either. Of course, you’ll argue more complexity means more chance for failure, but I’ll bet the bearings go before the fins. There’s something really satisfying about putting my A3 in launch mode and smoking the tires (on a front wheel drive car! with a cast-iron block!).

    4) the fuel tank is way too small. It’s only a 13 gal tank. That will only get me from Denver to Chicago. 20 will almost get me to Pittsburgh on one tank.

    • Hi Eric,

      Thanks – and also for the additional observations, especially as regards the 1.6 TDI that’s not available here. Imagine a 2,500 lb. (or less) Beetle with that engine. It’d be – in my opinion – truer to the original concept and given today’s economic situation, a lot more sensible than the current too-heavy, not efficient enough Beetle.

      It’s a nice car, without question. But that’s not enough anymore.

  11. Gosh no one has much to say about the diesel Beetle. Here are my thoughts.

    I think the car is really good looking. From the first time I saw one, I also sensed the Porsche 356 Speedster aura. I’m sure this TDI version is faster than most of the original gas 356s. But even a “good” turbo diesel in this car causes me to experience cognitive dissonance.

    I’d like to see it offered with a gas engine making around 250bhp. Then, it might be one hell of a “poor man’s Porsche”

    • I’d like to see both ideas elaborated!

      First, a high-efficiency TDI version – capable of at least 50 MPG on the highway. I suspect this could be done simply by paring down the car’s weight to 2,500 lbs. or so. Make it a very basic car – by modern standards. AC available, but optional. Wing vent windows and an effective system of ducted ventilation in lieu of AC. Etc.

      Then, a high-performance version. The current 2.0 turbo is a good start. As you say, bump it up to about 250-275 hp. Ought to be easily doable without compromising either durability or driveability (Kia gets 270 hp out of its 2.0 engine, no problem). Give this version a proper wheel/tire package, suspension – maybe even an SCCA package, with race-type buckets, a factory roll bar and so on. Offer a wealth of dealer-available performance parts.

      Yeah, that’s the ticket!

      • A Beetle GTI, in other words?

        Hell, put the fantastic 3.2 liter VR6 engine from the old Golf R in it; a perky dual exhaust and some Recaros with proper five-point harnesses 🙂


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