It’s a sad day. This is likely my last review of a Volkswagen Beetle – mainly because the Volkswagen Beetle will be discontinued after 2019. It’s an especially sad day because I have very fond memories of the car. I’ve of course driven many over the years, but I remember riding in the back of my uncle’s orange Beetle in the ‘70s. I was at the unveiling of the New Beetle in 1998 and owned a 2005 edition for six years. But, the car we have here may be my favorite of the bunch.
You’re looking at the 2019 VW Beetle Final Edition, which is a fancy way of saying the Beetle is going out in a fancy way. The shape defines iconic, essentially the same for eighty years, but it’s quite snazzy in its final form. LED driving lights, 18” white disc alloy wheels, and rear spoiler distinguish it. Of course, the bug eye headlamps, horseshoe taillamps, bulging fenders, and gently curved beltline remain. A beige canvas top contrasts with metallic paint. Classy.
Click open the door and scoot inside where body color dash and door panels connect to the original Beetles – as does the “Kaferfach” upper glovebox with satin silver latch. Weather permitting, press one button to retract the roof. VW keeps it simple with large analog gauges and a flat bottom steering wheel. Luxuries come in the form of heated diamond-stitched leather seats, dual zone automatic climate control, rain-sensing wipers, and swipescreen for audio and navigation. I could listen to the crisp Fender audio system for the next eighty years. Safety is enhanced by a rearview camera and blind spot warnings.
If you’re only familiar with driving classic Beetles, I should tell you there’s no chirpy little engine hanging out back. Nope, the front-drive car goes forth with a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder dishing out 174 horsepower and 184 lb.-ft. of torque – all routed through a six-speed automatic transmission with manual shift mode. Power is dropped smoothly to the road. It’s no rocket, but there’s plenty to move this compact with a sense off vigor. Step lightly to see 26/33-MPG city/highway.
The Beetle cruises comfortably on its four-wheel independent suspension. Even with the top deployed, there’s very little cowl shake and the car handles as good as a little car should. In typical VW fashion, the suspension just rumbles over rough city streets and washboard country roads with little drama, but turns crisply when commanded. It’s a car you can enjoy on a thousand-mile journey or just to the ice cream shop with kids in the back.
I’ve enjoyed many Beetles. There was the Beetle Dune we reviewed last year – and a base baby blue one I drove in California four years ago. But, none were as elegant as the Final Edition. So, why is VW killing it? Well, it’s a very good car in a crossover world. Which, makes me wonder why VW didn’t echo the Fiat 500X and turn the Beetle into a cool little crossover. With the advent of electric vehicles, I bet the car will return again without a gasoline engine. It’s too hard to imagine an automotive world without a Volkswagen Beetle. Given a base price of $20,895 or $30,890 for our test car, you don’t have to imagine your garage without one.
Send comments to Casey at [email protected]; follow him on YouTube @AutoCasey.