NEW CAR REVIEW: 2014 Volkswagen Beetle shines

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The Volkswagen Bug has endured many name and design changes since it debuted in the Unites States in 1949. With the 2014 Volkswagen Beetle R-Line, another chapter in the carmaker’s legacy as one of the top-10 best-selling cars in history has begun.

The new limited edition is the most upscale and most powerful Beetle to date. The Beetle as a sports car isn’t quite accurate. But for 2014, the upscale trim features a larger turbo-charged engine, new front fascia, a metal dash plate and a host of R-Line, sporty badging throughout the car.

The 2014 Volkswagen Beetle has a new design.
The 2014 Volkswagen Beetle has a new design. Images © James Raia/2013

The styling is not only more sporting, it’s more masculine than the 2013 Beetle Turbo. The squared-off steering wheel is leather wrapped and there are easy-to use controls for the audio system and instrument cluster.

The Weekly Driver Test Drive

There’s little middle ground with the Volkswagen Beetle. You’re a fan or not. I’m in the former group, since a 1962 VW Bug was the first car I owned about 40 years ago.

The enjoyment for me was, as a Bug or Beetle, the 2014 Volkswagen Beetle R-Line still has its charm of yesteryear’s models. It was a fun, niche car then, and the same holds true today. It’s a fun, niche car, yes, but VW Beetle R-Line is no longer the little engine that could.

My weekly driver had a 2.0-liter, 210 horsepower, turbo-charged, four-cylinder engine. That’s a completely different car than the 40-horsepower machine I drove as a high school senior. The new Beetle had sporty gauges above the dashboard. Its turbocharger kicked it quickly and the VW drove like no other Bug or Beetle I’ve driven. It had a wondrously high quality Fender audio system.

Blaupunkt made a fine AM/FM radio all those years ago for VW. But the sound system in the R-Line was superior. It’s the difference between hearing a live concert or music from a Blaupunkt system transmitted from Germany. The Fender system had 400 watts, eight speakers and a sub-woofer.

The 2014 Beetle R-Line is tight-turning and for its segment grips the road with confidence. It corners without issue, accelerates to freeway speed steadily and maneuvers in city and open-road situations with ease.

Likes:

Sporty design.

Exterior/interior design.

Turbo boost impressive.

Trunk is small, but bigger than I thought. It held 12 plastic bags of groceries.

Dislikes:

Expensive.

Small back seats.

Small rear view.

Noisy at high speeds.

Facts & Figures: 2014 Volkswagen Beetle

Acceleration: 0-60 mph, 6.6 seconds.
Airbags: (4)
Fuel economy: 21 mpg (city), 30 mpg (highway), five-speed automatic transmission.
Horsepower: 210
Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price: $31,095.00
Manufacturer’s Web site: www.vw.com.
Price As Tested: $32,030.00
Warranty: Bumper to bumper, 3 years/36,000 miles; Powertrain, 5 years/60,000 miles; Corrosion, 12 years/unlimited miles; Roadside Assistance, 3 years/36,000 miles.

What Others Say:

“Comfortable and spacious (up front), though not all that quiet, the 2014 VW Beetle’s cabin is well-laid out and handsome. Passengers up front have plenty of leg, head, and hip room in both the coupe and convertible.” — CarConnection.com.

“The overall look of the R-Line styling is more sporting and masculine than the 2013 Beetle Turbo. The chrome accents dress the car up a bit, and we liked the cornering lights at night which light up your path when you turn.” — Examiner.com.

The Weekly Driver’s Final Words:

“I bought my first VW Bug for $500. It’s difficult therefore to consider paying $32,000 for a Volkswagen Beetle. But it’s a fine car with a cool design, lots of great innovation and a blast to drive.”

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