The latest 2016 Volkswagen Beetle is much improved over the car it replaced. The styling is dramatic and contemporary, there’s more of a premium feel inside and out, and it’s even more fun to drive. With a reasonable level of practicality – as long as you don’t expect too much – and low running costs, it’s a style statement that doesn’t demand too much in the way of compromises.
Wanting to lure in more male buyers, the latest 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 is clean and flowing, with rounded rectangles and circles the major themes. Controls are simple, both on the wheel and in the center stack. VW is also offering a new MIB II infotainment system with 5.0 or 6.3-inch touchscreens and, finally, a USB port for those with a more distinguished selection of music that’s not from the car radio.
Comfortable and spacious up front, though not all that quiet, the 2016 VW Beetle’s cabin is well-laid out and handsome. Front seat occupants have plenty of leg, head, and hip room in both the coupe and convertible. The rear seat will be tight for most passengers. In coupes, trunk space is pretty good. In convertibles, rear seat space is lost to the collapsible wind deflector, if you choose to use it.
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The 2016 Volkswagen Beetle comes with two gasoline engine options, both turbocharged fours. The Beetle isn’t about all-out performance, rather both options are meant to find a nice balance between fun and efficiency.
The base engine is a 1.8-liter turbocharged four-cylinder rated at 170 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque. It can be had with a 5-speed manual or 6-speed auto. This engine is much better than the 2.5-liter five-cylinder it replaced last year, offering more torque and better fuel economy. It has plenty of power for most needs.
With three engines and a choice of transmissions, the Beetle offers several different approaches to fuel economy. The coupe and convertible get similar ratings, though the convertibles are generally a little bit lower due to increased weight and less-optimal aerodynamics.
The 1.8-liter turbocharged four-cylinder scores 25 mpg city, 34 highway, 28 combined in the coupe with the 5-speed manual transmission or 6-speed automatic. The convertible is rated at the 25/34/28 mpg with the 6-speed auto; no manual 1.8T convertible is offered.
The 210-horsepower Beetle R-Line coupe has EPA ratings of 24/31/27 mpg with its dual-clutch transmission, and 24/31/26 with its six-speed manual. The convertible is similar, at 23/31/26 mpg with either transmission. That’s respectable given the pep in the R-Line’s step.
The Beetle is offered with a great value prepaid servicing package, which takes care of all routine maintenance.
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