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2019 Volkswagen Beetle Final Edition Is a Stylish Send-Off for the Bug

Car and Driver logo Car and Driver 5 days ago Joe Lorio
Volkswagen's Beetle Final Edition Is a Stylish Send-Off for the Bug: For its last model year, the Volkswagen Beetle can be had as a Final Edition, which features specific interior trim and features.© Provided by Hearst Communications, Inc For its last model year, the Volkswagen Beetle can be had as a Final Edition, which features specific interior trim and features.

Puebla, Mexico, where Volkswagen has built cars since 1965, has been a home to the VW Beetle for more than 50 years. Long after production of the original Beetle ended in Germany in 1974, the car continued to be built in Puebla and sold in Mexicountil 2003. When reborn as the New Beetle for 1998, the model was built exclusively in Puebla and exported around the world (mostly to the United States) before finally going out of production in 2010. The latest Beetle (no longer New) debuted for 2012, and it, too, is a product of Puebla, built on the same line as the Tiguan in the massive complex, which also makes Golfs, Jettas, and other models. 

VW has a history of ushering the Beetle off the stage with special models. For the original, air-cooled version, 1979 was the final model year in the United States, and those Bugs were all triple-white convertibles. In Mexico, production of the original Beetle ended with the Última Edición, which was available in Harvest Moon Beige or Aquarius Blue. When it was time for the New Beetle to make its exit, in 2010, Volkswagen rolled out a Final Edition with special color schemesAquarius Blue with a black roof panel for the coupe, Aquarius Blue and Campanella White two-tone for the convertible. 

And, now that the current Beetle has entered its last model year, Volkswagen is again doing a Final Edition, available as both coupe and convertible, and it consists of special trim, equipment, and colors but is mechanically unchanged from the regular car.

a car parked on the side of a building: 2019 Volkswagen Beetle Final Edition© Volkswagen 2019 Volkswagen Beetle Final Edition

Volkswagen invited us to drive the Final Edition Beetle on the car's home turf, during Mexico's Día de los Muertos celebration. The combination was novel but also fitting, given the degree to which the Beetle has become a part of Mexican culture, including the original's longtime use as taxicabs in Mexico City. The first-generation, air-cooled Beetle is still a common sight in Mexico, where it's colloquially called the Vocho.

Our drive was confined to the new Final Edition, which comes in both hardtop and convertible body styles. Like all Beetles, it's powered by a 174-hp turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four, driving its front wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission. (The manual gearbox bowed out in 2017.) This engine replaced the previous turbocharged 1.8-liter four last year and has been the Beetle's sole offering since then. In our test of a 2018 hardtop, it pulled the Bug from zero to 60 mph in 7.2 seconds and through the quarter-mile in 15.6 seconds at 91 mph. What those numbers don't reflect is the sometimes frustrating nature of this engine's power delivery. Although its peak torque of 184 lb-ft is available at only 1500 rpm, the turbo seems to spool up slowly, and when you're on the move, calls for more acceleration are answered lazily. The powertrain feels more energetic when pulling away from a stop. The six-speed may be down on ratios compared to more modern automatics, but we really can't fault its behavior, as it's willing to downshift when prodded and is generally smooth in operation. Fuel economy is 26 mpg city and 33 mpg highway, according to EPA methodology.

a car parked in front of a mirror posing for the camera: 2019 Volkswagen Beetle Final Edition© Volkswagen 2019 Volkswagen Beetle Final Edition

The mean streets of greater Puebla feature plenty of rough pavement with potholes that rival some of Detroit's finest. But whether riding on the SE model's 17-inch wheels or the SEL's 18s, the Beetle takes the tattered tarmac in stride, shrugging off most bumps without transmitting any harshness to the cabin. Despite the supple suspension, body motions are effectively damped. Responsive, nicely weighted steering is another component of the well-tuned chassis.

The specialness of the Final Edition is not in the way it drives, however. It's primarily the interior finishes. Even the SE looks fancy with its cloth seats in black and tan with rhombus-patterned contrast stitching, while the SEL Final Edition features diamond-patterned stitching on its black and tan-or all black-leather seats. Both models are further dressed up with a tan-colored dash insert, pedals trimmed in stainless steel, and gloss-black finish for the center console and upper door panels. The net effect is a premium-looking interior, although the 6.3-inch touchscreen is smallish for a 2019 model. Any Beetle is roomy insideat least up frontand relatively easy to see out of, although all Beetles augment the generally good outward visibility with standard blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert this year. 

Outside, the Final Edition's two exclusive huesAquarius Blue and Safari Uni (tan)nod to colors of previous last-of-the-line Beetles. Black, white, and gray also can be had. The SE Final Edition gets 15-spoke 17-inch wheels, while the SEL's 18s feature a more retro-looking chrome center disc with a white-painted wheel. 

a car driving down a street: 2019 Volkswagen Beetle Final Edition© Volkswagen 2019 Volkswagen Beetle Final Edition

The good news is that the Beetle's funereal finery doesn't cost a lot. In fact, it comes at a discount. The standard Beetle coupe and convertible are available in S and SE trim levels; the Final Edition SE costs $1100 less than the regular SE convertible and $1340 less than the SE coupe. The Final Edition also is available as an SELwhich is the only SEL Beetle for 2019and it brings the aforementioned 18-inch wheels; bixenon headlights with LED daytime running lights, taillights, and license-plate lights; fog lights; navigation; Fender premium audio; front and rear audible parking aids; and leather.

The latest Beetle traded less on nostalgia than did its New Beetle predecessor, but style still has played no small part for those choosing a Beetle over its more practicaland excellentshowroom sibling, the Golf. So it's not hard to imagine that same audience falling for the Final Edition, if only for its nicer interior. They'll have until next summer to grab one, at which point the Beetle is, again, muerto. At least until its possible return in all-electric form on Volkswagen's new EV platform. Because the Beetle, it seems, never stays dead for long.
 

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