By Barbara & Bill Schaffer
The Volkswagen Beetle has evolved over the last 85 years to become one of the oldest models on the market today. It started as one of simplest designed cars ever built and has matured into a totally modern coupe with an elevated level of sophistication and contemporary appointments.
Still, the 2018 Volkswagen Beetle looks remarkably like the original and the design and name have advanced through the production of more than 24 million cars. While the car has grown and evolved, it still is easily identifiable as a Beetle. The most notable structural change has been moving the engine and drive wheels from the rear to the front and changing it from the original air cooled horizontally-opposed four-cylinder engine to a conventional water cooled turbocharged four-cylinder.
All the models are powered by Volkswagen’s 174 horsepower 2.0-liter turbocharged and intercooled inline four-cylinder engine. The transversely-mounted engine drives the front wheels through a standard six-speed automatic transmission with Tiptronic®. Buff magazine testing lists the VW Beetle as having a 0 to 60 mph time of 7.2 seconds, but we think it feels quicker than the numbers indicate. The turbocharged VW four-cylinder engine has a smooth quick acceleration takeoff thrust with a transmission that shifts very quickly automatically or using the Tiptronic shifter. This smooth turbine-like response and manual shifting automatic transmission makes the car especially fun to drive.
The Beetle 2.0T has an EPA rating of 26 mpg city, 34 mpg highway and 29 mpg combines. We averaged 28.4 mpg during our week of testing.
VW planners have kept the Beetle competitive with most of the new electronic technologies and the features that customers seem to demand like blind spot monitoring, rearview camera, cross traffic alert, navigation, premium audio (in this case by Fender), Bluetooth connectivity, satellite radio, crash response, Automatic Post Collison Braking, advance infotainment and park distance controls. We were surprised, however, that the Dune we tested didn’t have an available active cruise control system or lane departure warning systems – those are both ‘must haves’ in our mind.
The available VW Car-Net Security & Service features include Automatic Crash Notification, Manual Emergency Call, Roadside Assistance, and Stolen Vehicle Location Assistance, which uses VW Car-Net Security & Service to assist law enforcement with locating your vehicle if it is stolen. In addition, VW Car-Net Security & Service offers remote vehicle access, remote door lock and unlock, remote honk and flash of lights, last parked location information, and remote status check (doors and windows). Consumers will also be able to send a location from their compatible connected smart device to the factory installed compatible navigation system on select models.
Other key features on the Dune are Bi-Xenon headlights with LED daytime running lights, a power sunroof, heated seats and KESSY® keyless access with push-button start.
We’ve always found a certain magic about driving the Volkswagen Beetle because of it’s unique looks and energetic demeanor. The 2018 VW Dune reinforced that feeling. It’s also a car that works nicely for a couple but can comfortably accommodate a couple extra passengers in the rear seat when needed. Although by no means unique, we appreciate the hatchback configuration that allows the 15.4 cubic feet cargo capacity to nearly double when the split rear seatbacks are both folded.
The seating tends to be more upright and chair-like as opposed to laying back with your legs stretched out, and that seems comfortable, even at greater distances. Overall, it’s a car that seems to make you smile when you drive it.
A nice addition for 2018 is the People First Warranty, a six-year or 72,000-mile (whichever occurs first) bumper-to-bumper New Vehicle Limited Warranty, which can be transferred to subsequent owners throughout its duration.
The 2018 Volkswagen Beetle pricing ranges from $21,070, including the destination charge for the S and goes up to $27,640 for the top-level model, the Dune which has virtually no options other than the Sandstorm Yellow Metallic color. When that distinctive color is ordered it also decorates the interior with the same color on the upper door trims, dashboard and the trim piping on the two-tone seats and some of the accent stitching is also in a Curry Yellow.
Volkswagen does offer a few aftermarket accessories like mats, ski sack, car covers and the flower vase which attaches to the dash.