It’s almost time to say goodbye to the VW Beetle, since VW just confirmed that next year will be the last year of the iconic Beetle. While we don’t know if the Beetle will re-emerge one day in the future as a retro-styled electric car, for now we just have to celebrate it for its long run that dates back 80 years ago.
80 years later and after a few redesigns, the same Beetle shape is there. Today the Beetle is offered in both coupe and convertible versions. The current Beetle was born back in 2012 and easily ditched the cutesy styling of the “New Beetle” that proceeded it. While the “New Beetle” captured the hearts of diehard Beetle fans, VW decided to go for a sportier look, with a more aggressive stance with the 2012 Beetle. But under the skin, the 2012 Beetle shared its DNA with the Golf and Jetta.
Now six years later, the Beetle hasn’t really changed much other than some small styling tweaks. For fans of the 1960s Baja Bugs, VW released the Beetle Dune two years ago. It features more aggressive “dune-inspired” styling with extra body cladding, a large rear spoiler, skid plates and a 0.2-inch taller ride height than the regular Beetle. The Beetle Dune is also available as a coupe or convertible.
Under the hood, the 2018 Beetle Dune is powered by a 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder engine that’s mated to a six-speed automatic transmission – sorry manual fans. The four-cylinder generates 174 horsepower and 184 lb-ft. of torque and it’s rated at 26/34 mpg. If you were hoping that the Beetle drives like the much loved GTI, you’ll be disappointed. While the 2.0L engine does pack enough power for your daily commute, once you push the pedal to the floor, you’ll realize that the Beetle is happier taking a more relaxed approach.
The same can be said for the suspension and steering. The steering has a nice weight to it and the suspension does a good job of keeping everything comfortable around town, but don’t expect to have too much fun on a back country road. There’s too much body roll when the road gets twisty.
Inside our Beetle Dune convertible had plenty of room for two passengers in the front, but the back seat is better reserved for children or the family dog. There isn’t much legroom back there and with the top up, headroom in the rear is also at a shortage. Back in the front, the dash layout is simple with a 6.3-inch touchscreen that controls the Fender Audio System. There’s also Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity. The Beetle Dune also comes standard with dual zone climate control and heated seats. While the Beetle’s interior does have some styling nods that recall the original, it’s not one of VW’s best interiors. It feels a bit dated and some of the materials could be better.
On the safety front, the Beetle is definitely showing its age. The Beetle Dune is not available with any of the latest driver assistance systems, like adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, lane keeping assist or even a blind spot monitor. It’s a good thing that the visibility out of the Beetle Dune convertible is actually pretty good, even with the top up.
While the 2018 VW Beetle is definitely showing its age, we’re still a bit sad to see it go. The 2018 Beetle is a great compact car with an extra dose of style mixed in that you won’t get with most other small cars on the market. Once VW finally brings its next-generation electric cars to the market, lets hope its execs decide to bring back some of its more emotional models. At least for now VW Beetle fans can celebrate the fact that the Microbus is officially coming back.
The 2018 VW Beetle starts at $20,220, while the Beetle convertible starts at $25,440.