The Volkswagen Beetle was redesigned two years ago to better suit both male and female buyers--the rounded, friendly looks of the previous model found mostly women drawn to its shape. Best of all, it's no corny retro-themed recreation, but a reinterpretation of the original Beetle's aesthetic.
The first Beetle was a charmer in its own right, but its day is long past. The New Beetle that replaced it met almost universal acclaim for its design when introduced, but didn't stand the test of time. Now, the third time around, the Beetle appears to have hit its stride once again, taking the best of its forebears and building on them.
Wanting to draw in more male buyers, the Beetle's look has grown more masculine, especially with the lower, flatter roofline and more upright windshield. At the same time, it's modern, but not in a trendy way. This shape, with its simple but shapely details, should hold up over the years.
Inside, the design clean and flowing, with rounded rectangles and circles the major themes. Controls are simple, both on the wheel and in the center stack.
For both the inside and the outside, throwback looks from the '50s, '60s, and '70s are available, as is a special-edition Fender model.
Sold as both a coupe and a convertible, the Beetle is changing up its powertrain lineup in 2014. The Beetle started the 2014 model year with a 2.5-liter five-cylinder in the base model, but Volkswagen has replaced this engine with a new 1.8-liter turbocharged four-cylinder.
The 2.5-liter five-cylinder rated 170 horsepower and up to 22 mpg city and 31 mpg highway; VW rates the new 1.8-liter turbo at 170 horsepower as well. The new turbo four-cylinder boosts gas mileage by 16 percent, however, according to VW. For the best mileage, there's the Beetle TDI Clean Diesel (yes, that's its full name), scoring 28 and 41 mpg city/highway.
For those who like a little more punch, the 2014 Beetle R-Line offers 210 horsepower from a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. The R-Line replaces the Beetle Turbo for the 2014 model year. Most Beetles are available with a choice of five- or six-speed manual or six-speed automatic or dual-clutch automatic transmissions.
Another addition for 2014 is the Beetle GSR. VW is limiting sales to 3,500 GSRs in total, each wearing a unique interior and exterior color theme and receiving special equipment. The Beetle GSR uses the same powertrain as the Beetle R-Line.
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. In hardtops, trunk space is pretty good; even in convertibles, not much space is lost to the collapsible wind deflector stowed against the top of the trunk.
USB, Bluetooth, and upgradeable audio systems are available in all Beetle models, while special themed trim lines offers the styles of the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, both inside and out. Available tech and equipment upgrades include: navigation, sunroof (coupe models), and VW's new Car-Net connectivity system.