Roadshow Video Reviews
2014 VW Beetle R-LineThe Beetle Turbo is now the basic Beetle, so the sportier version of the Beetle Turbo is dubbed the Beetle R-Line. Brian Cooley drives it and checks the tech.
[MUSIC] Ever since VW brought back the Beetle, as the new Beetle, they've also had a whole new legion of people sneering at it. No one seemed to take the cute little rounded thing seriously. That's finally changing. [MUSIC] The whole new design kind of chopped and channeled and slammed, has a new gut in this, the R line. Let's drive it, and check the tech. [MUSIC] Now I could call this a turbo. There's a big badge on the back that says that, but that doesn't distinguish this Beetle anymore because recently, even the base Beetle went turbo, 1.8. This is a bigger turbo, 2.0. You also get a sport suspension on the R line. Bigger and more aggressive looking wheels, a body kit that particularly changes the way the bumpers are molded. And if you haven't checked out a Beetle at all in a while, well it's worn a new look since 2012. Less rounded over the top, a little more broad. Broad-shouldered. Inside you got a very cool little gauge cluster on top of the dash we'll see in a moment. Independent rear suspension came to Beetles recently as well. In general you could call this the GTI of Beetles. It's a good summary for the R-line. Now, no bud vase. This is a much more businesslike cabin in the Beetle R-line. First of all, you see you've got three clear analog gauges here, your speedo, your. In your fuel gauge. But it gets much more interesting up here. This little blister is an R line thing, where you've got an oil temperature gauge, you've got this interesting lap timer in the middle, and over on the right, you've got your turbo boost gauge. All of these, of course, speak to a very different mission than your standard Beetle. Now we have the top package on this vehicle, which is called sun, sound, and navigation. The sun is the roof overhead. Pretty big for an arch-top car. The sound is the fender audio system around the vehicle, a big old sub in the back, fender branding all around. Navigation is right here, the navigation. The screen is pretty small by today's standards. This is the iPhone of car head units, way behind the pack in size. Once you get passed that though your choices are pretty solid, you've got the usual media options that range from bluetooth streaming to a pretty silly SD card slot right here. The MDI is the multidevice interface over in the glove box. Notice that this is the first time I've seen a Volkswagen Audi product that has the correct adapter for the new iOS devices. Basically you want for nothing on the media side. The navigation screen has several views, but no Earth view. Nothing that's too complex. There's no connected navigation going on here, either. Dot pitch and resolution isn't bad. It's basically a perfectly good system, but there's nothing cutting edge about it. But in general, this interface still makes no organic sense to me. Neither my mind nor my eyes organize the world as balls around an arc. But response to inputs is at least crisp and quick, and as you can see, the system is fairly verbose, with a minimum of cryptic icons. If you get the VW car-net app set up, you'll have crash notification, roadside assistance, stolen vehicle location, remote access to lock and unlock the car and such. Also you can set geo-fencing boundaries to know if the car's left a certain area or if it's driving beyond a speed you've preset. We're talking to your teenage kids there. So what are our line touches on these sport seats, a flat bottom sporty wheel as is the fashion these days. Push button starter over here. ANd two glove boxes. You got the standard one here that's standard vehicle stuff, and right above it is the kiper box. I told you this is not a show for kids. And this is old Beatles stuff. A retro touch. Now under its short snout, you've got a hotter engine than in a base Beetle, but as I've mentioned earlier, all these guys get turbo engines now, but this is the somewhat bigger one, it's a two liter turbo, inline four of course, sitting side-saddled driving the front wheel. That's Beetle architecture. Aside from turbocharging, it's also got direct injection, so all the. Major hips of current engine design are in here. The numbers, 210 horsepower, 207 pounds of torque. The Beetle is fairly svelte at 3,000 pounds or so. It's up to 60 in six and a half seconds. Your MPG with the manual is 23/31. If you get the automated transmission, it goes one MPG the opposite way. 24 city, but only 30 on the highway. So moving all that power to the wheels, of course, means going to the front wheels, so there's nothing going through the bottom of the car here, there's no all wheel drive, although performance purists might like it. What you do have, though, is a limited slip differential in the R line. If you're unclear on that, go see our Car Tech 101 from CNET on cars about LSD. And you have two choices of gear boxes. We, blessedly, have been given the six speed manual. Yes, this is a rarity these days. I bet most of these are gonna ship with a six speed DSG, that's dual clutch automated manual gear box. [MUSIC] Now I tell you, I really came prepared to really. Love the Beetle R line. Looks so good on paper. Doesn't look so good on the road. The engine I give an A minus. It's got great power, minimal turbo lag. Makes a nice note when you really kind of get grinding into it. Then you've got a whole different personality from the suspension, which has kind of got a, a lot of float. And porpoising going on as you're on and off the power. It doesn't. Doesn't match with the motor, there is something disconnected here. And that's fine if you want to do a compliant suspension at least dial out the road noise and they don't do a good job of that, I'm getting a lot of really annoying drumming from the road service out of all four wheels, it's just, it's just irritating. So it's a bit Jackal and Hyde. Going on here. I wish they'd gotten the underpinnings to be more of what the engine's trying to deliver. It's not a bad car to drive. I don't dislike it. But it's not of a piece. No driver assistance tech to speak of on the R line, not even a rear camera. Which is very odd at this point in history. [MUSIC] Okay. Let's price our little round, red friend. About $25,800 for an R line delivered. And I'm gonna add 1100 for that DSG, because while I like this manual gear box, I don't love it. And I think that DSG's gonna be a hot set-up. Now I'm gonna go another 2900 for the sun and sound package, but not the sun, sound, and nav package. My phone does a better job than CW Nav in terms of wowing me and I can live without the leather, the 19s and the byzenom but you may have a different opinion there. I'm all in just under 30 grand for a Beetle that's kind of pulling across purposes. It's got one mission under the hood, another mission under the floor pan. I wish they'd pull those more into line. [MUSIC]