After more than 10 years in its current incarnation, the Volkswagen Beetle is finally getting an update, with new styling, engine choices, and cabin tech. Updates to the Beetle reflect similar changes in the new Jetta, showing standardization of production for its models.
The original Beetle models had air-cooled engines in the rear, so no need for a front grille and radiator. Volkswagen moved the engine to the front, along with the driven wheels, for the 1998 version, and the 2012 update keeps this layout. Although it now sports a radiator, Volkswagen puts the air intake below the bumper in the new Beetle to preserve the original styling.
The most radical change is the roofline, which looks more like that in the very first Beetle models. The roof is less rounded, which makes for better headroom in back. This turbo model also shows a side-step accent, which makes that feature look more pronounced.
Volkswagen will offer three engines for the Beetle, a turbocharged 2-liter four cylinder making 200 horsepower, a 2.5-liter five cylinder making 170 horsepower, and a diesel 2-liter four cylinder, with an output of 140 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque. The diesel version rings in 33 mpg, according to Volkswagen. The rear spoiler on the model shown is unique to the turbo version.
Unlike the original Beetle, the current version has a large hatchback, courtesy of moving the engine to the front. Volkswagen already has a two-door hatchback with the Golf, but the Beetle earns its place in the lineup with style points.
The controls on the steering-wheel spokes are similar to those in the new Jetta. Volkswagen will make a flash-based navigation system available in the Beetle, along with two different audio options. The top audio system will be Fender-branded, with a 400-watt amp and subwoofer.
Three transmissions are available for the Beetle, a five-speed manual, six-speed automatic, and six-speed DSG automated manual. The DSG is the automatic option for the turbo and diesel versions of the Beetle.
Gauges for oil temp, battery, and turbo boost sit at the top of the dashboard. Along with the touch-screen navigation system in the center of the dashboard, Volkswagen includes a display in the instrument cluster for route guidance and trip information.