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2015 Volkswagen Beetle

Motor Trend logo Motor Trend 3/11/2015 Stefan Ogbac

New for 2015

The 2015 Volkswagen Beetle gains a new special-edition model called the Classic. This variant comes with unique seat upholstery, a navigation system, 17-inch wheels in black or white, and a six-speed automatic transmission as standard. A new turbocharged 2.0-liter diesel I-4 replaces the previous unit and has more power with 150 hp and 236 lb-ft of torque.

Vehicle summary

The 2015 Volkswagen Beetle is a retro-styled compact car sold in coupe or convertible body styles, three engine choices, and five trim levels.

Overview

In addition to the turbodiesel I-4, the 2015 Volkswagen Beetle is also available with two turbocharged gas four-cylinder engines: a 1.8-liter with 170 hp and 184 lb-ft, and a 2.0-liter with 210 hp and 207 lb-ft. The 1.8-liter is paired to either a five-speed manual or a six speed automatic in the coupe but is only offered with the latter on convertibles. The turbodiesel I-4 and gas-powered 2.0-liter are linked to a six-speed manual or dual-clutch automatic in both body styles.

Acceleration is brisk with the turbocharged 2.0-liter, giving the good power for merging and passing even at high speeds. While competent on twisty roads, the Beetle’s handling is “not anywhere as sharp as the Golf GTI” due to it having more body roll and less aggressive brakes; however, it does well zipping around city traffic. Ride quality is good except when the car is equipped with the 19-inch wheels, which make the car’s ride harsh.

Fuel economy on the 2015 Beetle is average on gas-powered models and impressive on cars equipped with the diesel. In the coupe, 1.8-liter achieves 25/33 mpg city/highway with the automatic and 24/33 mpg with the manual while opting for the convertible drops gas mileage down to 24/32 mpg. The 2.0-liter is rated at 24/30 mpg with the dual clutch automatic-equipped coupe and 23/29 mpg in the convertible. Coupes and convertibles achieve 23/31 mpg with the manual and 2.0-liter turbo-four. Diesel-powered Beetles have the best fuel economy, with coupes rated at 31/41 mpg and convertibles at 30/40 mpg.

The 2015 Beetle’s exterior styling remains its most distinguishable feature, with a retro styling that’s more masculine and aggressive than the bubbly previous generation. This, however, hurts interior usability because seating is limited to four adults and a small trunk on convertible models at 7.1 cubic feet. While coupes have a larger 15.4 cubic-foot trunk with the rear seats in place, folding them increases cargo capacity to 29.9 cubic feet, which is lagging most competitors including the smaller Mini Hardtop.

The 2015 Volkswagen Beetle Coupe has a five-star overall safety rating from the NHTSA (out of a possible five-stars; convertible models haven’t been tested).

UPDATE: A blind spot warning system with rear-cross traffic alert is available on models with the Sun,Sound, and Navigation package. In IIHS evaluations, the 2015 Beetle received a Good score in four categories and Marginal in the small overlap front crash test (Good is the highest possible score).

What We Think

While the Volkswagen Beetle’s performance has improved over the previous generation, it isn’t a performance car like the Volkswagen Golf GTI. In a 2014 First Test, we said that while the car’s acceleration is on par with most sport compacts, its handling lets it down due to it having a lot of body roll and less aggressive brakes. The dual-clutch automatic is also less impressive versus the unit found on the Golf GTI due to it being tuned for fuel economy instead of performance, which caused excessive turbo lag due to the long gearing.

In a 2012 First Test, we noted that the steering wasn’t communicative, and that the ride was harsh especially with the 19-inch wheels.

You’ll Like

  • Good acceleration and handling
  • Distinctive exterior styling
  • Fuel-efficient diesel powertrain

You Won’t Like

  • Harsh ride with the 19-inch wheels
  • Small trunk on convertible models
  • Excessive turbo lag

Key Competitors

  • Fiat 500
  • Mini Hardtop
  • Scion tC
  • Hyundai Veloster

Rating

2 star

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