2019 VW Beetle Final Edition first drive review: Bye-bye, Bug

As they say, all good things must come to an end, and such is the case with the Volkswagen Beetle. Yes, after the 2019 model year, the iconic VW Bug is no more. And to commemorate the loss of one of the most recognizable cars on the planet, Volkswagen is pushing out two new Final Edition trims.

Volkswagen gave us the New Beetle in 1998, followed up by the lowercase-n new Beetle in 2011, the one off of which the Final Edition model is based.

The Final Edition Beetles are available in coupe or convertible body styles, with a couple of cues taken from the Última Edición -- the last gasp of the air-cooled Beetle that was sold in Mexico in 2003. That earlier last-hurrah Bug was only offered in beige and light blue, so the newer Final Editions get their own interpretations of those colors in the form of safari uni and stonewashed blue. You can also get the Final Edition in pure white, deep black or platinum gray, but what's the fun in that?

Other Final Edition touches include bi-xenon headlights, LED lights everywhere else and unique 18-inch wheel options. I like the ones from the Final Edition SEL, which hearken back to the Última Edición's body-colored steel wheels with chrome hubcaps.

The Final Edition may get some model-exclusive design elements, but the powertrain underneath remains the same as any other Beetle. A 2.0-liter, turbocharged, four-cylinder engine kicks out 174 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic transmission sends power to the front wheels, and though there's a manu-matic Sport mode option, gear changes are only handled via the shift lever -- no paddles here, folks.

On the mean streets of Puebla, Mexico, the Beetle eagerly zips through slow-moving traffic. The Final Edition doesn't drive any differently than other models of this generation, meaning it has the same light steering and taut chassis as before. It's a really enjoyable car to drive.

Frugal, too. The EPA estimates the 2019 Beetle will return 26 miles per gallon in the city, 33 mpg highway and 29 mpg combined.

If you're looking for an abundance of driver's aids, look elsewhere. The Final Edition SE offers standard blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert, while the SEL adds front and rear park distance control. I don't expect VW to add a bunch of technology to the last model year of a car, but adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assist -- things you can't get on the Beetle -- are standard on both the new Toyota Corolla hatchback as well as the Honda Civic.

Seriously, how cool are these wheels?

Volkswagen

Another disappointment, albeit small, is that there is only one USB port in the Final Edition Beetle. Thankfully, the rest of the in-car tech is excellent, with VW's Car-Net infotainment system offering a straightforward interface with both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto standard. The 6.3-inch capacitive touchscreen is a bit on the small side, but it fits proportionally with the interior and features clear graphics. Navigation is standard on the Final Edition SEL.

Inside, the homage to the old-school bug continues with a "kaeferfach" glove box. Otherwise known as the Beetle bin, this little storage bin is directly in top of the standard glove box with an upward folding lid, offering up an extra place to store your wallet and phone.

There is only room for four in the Beetle, and cargo space is limited. The coupe sports 15.4 cubic feet of space behind the rear seats, expanding to almost 30 cubes with the rear seats folded. As for the convertible, well, you'll pay for all that sunshine. Trunk space decreases to a tiny 7.1 cubes.

Other colors are available, but the signature Final Edition hues are the Safari Uni beige and Stonewashed Blue inspired by vintage Bugs.

Volkswagen

In base S trim, the 2019 Volkswagen Beetle starts at $20,895. The Final Edition, meanwhile, comes in at $23,045 for the mid-level SE, or $25,995 for the SEL. If you'd rather go topless, the Convertible versions start at $27,295 and $29,995, respectively.

2019 may be the final year for the Beetle, but Volkswagen might have one more bug in its ear, as it were. The Beetle is gone for now, but Volkswagen is a company that loves to revive its retro designs and nameplates, so who knows, another Bug -- maybe with electric power -- could be in the cards someday.

"As we move to being a full-line, family-focused automaker in the US and ramp up our electrification strategy with the MEB platform, there are no immediate plans to replace [the Beetle]," says Hinrich J. Woebcken, VW Group of America's president and CEO. "But as we have seen with the I.D. Buzz -- which is the modern and practical interpretation of the legendary Bus -- I would also say, 'never say never.'"


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