The love bug is back
“The Middle East model of the world’s most recognizable car available in three exciting configurations”
“The Beetle is a reinterpretation of the original design which made its debut over seven decades ago”
“The VW Beetle R-Line combines style with substance,” said Issam
The Beetle. What can I say? I still remember my first article ever published in ArabWheels back in 2005. Time flies by so quickly. Nine years ago my piece was about “Herbie” the love bug from the famous Disney movie. Now here I am in California for the “unbeetable” trip from San Francisco to Los Angeles!
The 2014 Volkswagen Beetle, dissimilar to the previous “New Beetle” retro-bug, manages to sail skillfully between the two, appealing to both nostalgic memories and modern thoughts, not to mention satisfactorily of people in between both.
In homage to its heritage, many of the classic Beetle characteristics have been incorporated, including its round headlights, flared wings, bonnet shape, sides and door sills and large wheels (up to 19 inch). However, the new Beetle offers entirely new proportions to its predecessor – 1,808 mm wide (84 mm wider), 1,486 mm tall (12 mm lower) and 4,278 mm long (152 mm longer) – that gives it a powerful appearance with muscular tension.
Much has been made of the more masculine look of the newest car to wear the Beetle name, but in truth, it’s just a bit more gender-neutral than the very cute, but also predominantly a woman-owned new Beetle. However you care to draw the lines, the lines of the Beetle itself are clearly attractive. Simple, straightforward, with a classic quality that hints at forthcoming agelessness, the Beetle’s flattened arches and subtle flares could only fit one car.
For those with a taste for the look of the Beetle in the 1950s, 1960s or 1970s, Volkswagen has some ready-made trim lines to evoke the spirit of each decade. The ‘50s model in particular is compellingly simple and clean in its aesthetic.
The interior of the Beetle is simple and useful, a nod to its classic predecessor, while incorporating the entire modern digital tech you’d want.
I admired the glaring purity of the dashboard. There are two glove boxes should you need to keep anything stowed up front. The R-Line comes with three extra gauges at the top of the center stack: one for oil, one for the turbocharger and a stopwatch for if you have to take the Beetle for a few spins around the circuit, he he!
Information screen on the center stack combines hard button and touch screen controls. You can use this system to control navigation and audio settings. The navigation package is particularly intuitive, with built-in knowledge of the area so you can easily figure out where you’re trying to go. You also have the option to store your home address.
As for the audio system, the Beetle comes with AM, FM and satellite radio. You also have an iPod cable, a CD player and an SD card reader at your disposal. Finally, the car is Bluetooth-enabled if you want to sync your phone and stream music. Most of the control features are within reach of the steering wheel, so fine adjustments can be made with slight distraction from the road.
The new model is a step-change from its predecessor with a powerful new engine; the Beetle enjoys 210HP from a 2.0 liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, a 6-speed dual-clutch gearbox (DSG) and a top speed of 227 kph.
With a starting price of only USD 27,196, the new Beetle will be available in a range of styles and colors: solid, metallic, pearl and two tone sunroof (with black ceiling) shades and a range of special colors including denim blue, Saturn yellow and tornado red.
The Beetle S is the entry level model and features a multi-function leather wrapped steering wheel, Fender audio system and eight speakers (including dual tuner), an automatic air condition “Climatronic” with dual zone climate control, which can be separately controlled and a parking distance control that provides acoustic warning signals at the front and rear of the vehicle.
The mid entry model, the Beetle SE, has a number of distinguishing features including 18 inch alloy “Twister” wheels, a multi-function leather-wrapped steering wheel with gear shift a transparent tilt/slide sunroof which is 80 percent larger (glass surface area) than its predecessor and insulates 99 percent of UV radiation and 92 percent of heat energy, bi-xenon headlights including 15 LEDs that frame the xenon module on the outer perimeters of the headlights.
The top line model, Beetle SEL, offers the features of the S and SEL models but comes with 19 inch alloy “Tornado” wheels, a keyless locking and starting system and the leading radio navigation system – the RNS 510 and the seat centers and inner sides of side bolsters are wrapped in “Vienna” leather. It also offers additional refinements including a 6.5 inch touchscreen, DVD player, voice control, SD card slot, 30 Gigabyte hard drive and a mobile device interface with iPod/iPhone adapter cable.
I got my first shift behind the wheel in Volkswagen’s 2014 Beetle Turbo, now named R-Line. This trim’s appearance brings a more aggressive front fascia with chrome accents, a new rear bumper that better highlights the dual exhaust tips and unique R-Ling badges on the front fenders.
The handling of the Beetle has been quite improved comparing to the second generation. Based on the same chassis as the current Golf, the Beetle R-Line has a much tighter suspension and steering than the last generation. A multi-link rear suspension and struts up front give a well-connected feel that rarely disappoints. The R-Line has larger 12.3 inch front disc brakes which are noticeably stronger than the base binders.
On the windy road up from San Francisco to the 101 highway down to Los Angeles, I found that only when you approach rougher surfaces does the Beetle’s feather become windswept. There is a bit of torque steer under full power. The 2.0 liter turbocharged engine performs well, offering up a healthy 210 hp for 2014. It gave us a nice push! Bits of turbo delay under the 3,000 rpm bar, but that’s not an issue as long as you keep your foot on the gas pedal to cross the 3,000 rpm where you will feel the turbo boost.
Why do people love this car so much? What keeps them coming back for it after all these years? I can simply say that it’s just a great car. Simple enough! After my road trip on the US west coast, and more specifically from San Francisco to Los Angeles in the 2014 Volkswagen Beetle, I can certainly see the appeal for people who want a fun and stylish car to drive. There are a variety of trim levels that offer affordability, efficiency and an incredible value. The new generation Beetle will be available at local dealerships from June 2014 in Volkswagen dealers across the region: Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.
4-cylinder, 2.0l TSI, 210 HP, 280 Nm
Gearbox 6-speed DSG
Top speed 227 kph, 0-100: 7.3 sec, 7.6L /100km
Weight: 1386 kg
Pros: Modern classic Beetle lines, vintage touches available, R-Line package
Cons: No exhaust sound inside the cabin, minor turbo delay, small back seat
Rivals: MINI Cooper S Hardtop, Fiat 500 Abarth, Hyundai Veloster Turbo
Two words: love bug