We Americans have become spoiled. We want what we want when we want it. Truth is we don’t want to have to work very hard for anything. We can zap our meals in a microwave in minutes, watch our TV programs “on demand” or from a device we call the “DVR.” We have “smart” phones that aren’t used for actually calling people, but for everything else. We “Yelp” and we “Google” and use earbuds to immerse ourselves in a cocoon.
It’s like our society has become the world of “me”; it’s my world you just live in it. The same can be said of our cars. We don’t have to use a map, there’s satellite navigation with a pretty little voice that tells us when to turn; radios that broadcast from space that allow us to never hear a commercial. Lane assist, adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring; it’s like we don’t even have to drive our cars anymore, they practically do it themselves.
I was reminded of this recently when I was delivered my car for the week, the 2015 VW Beetle convertible. This was the base model. What? No sat-nav? Satellite radio? No, blind spot or rear view camera? Egads, how would we get along for an entire week? The truth is we got along quite well the Beetle and I. Because the truth is like the last Beetle we had this is a fun car, it drives very well and reminded us that not having all the latest gadgets on a car isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
The last time we had the Beetle we lamented about the fact that no longer do the iconic “bugs” carry 1960s era hippies practicing free love in the small backset. After the reintroduction the new Beetles were designed to be “cute”; they carried sweet young suburban girls, wearing their Uggs at the hint of the first cold snap, to the mall. For god’s sakes they even had a flower vase. As they morphed through the years though the Beetle has tried to shed that cuteness and in many ways has.
Today’s Beetle is a little longer, little less rounded and is most importantly, minus the flower vase. The development team has increased the car’s track widths and wheelbase in what they hope gives the Beetle a more powerful and dynamic appearance. While that may still be arguable, the truth is that this new Beetle is something that any driver, male or female, would like to have.
There are three models in the lineup: The Beetle 2.5L, Beetle R-Line (turbocharged 2.0-liter) and Beetle TDI (turbocharged 2.0-liter diesel). With the base model, which is what we had, you have a power top made from fabric, 17” alloy wheels, power accessories, and powered front seats that are heated. There is Bluetooth connectivity, and the brand new Car-Net telematics system. Upgraded trim packages offer things like 18” wheels, GPS system, backup camera, and premium audio system by Fender. You can also upgrade to sports-tuned suspension, sports seats and unique and sporty gauges, with alloy pedals and faux carbon-fiber interior trim, to name a few.
The standard model gets a 2.5-liter five-cylinder engine that delivers 170 horsepower and 177 pound-feet of torque; The R-Line upgrades to a 2.0-liter four-cylinder that makes 210 hp and 207 lb-ft of torque; the TDI gets you a 2.0-liter diesel engine that offers 140 hp at 236 lb-ft of torque.
On the road the 2.5-liter gives you enough power to zip through traffic and with the top down the drive is actually a blast. The sound system cranks out great sounds and with EPA ratings of 32 highway and 24 city you will be visiting the pumps a little less often.
All in all, as with the last time, the week with the VW Beetle was an enjoyable one. VW has brought back the iconic Beetle, and has done so magnificently. And as my week proved, you don’t always need all those fancy gadgets, step out of your cocoon, put the top down and enjoy the drive.
The 2015 VW Beetle (1.8 T)
MSRP (As tested): $26,165
MPG (EPA estimated): 24 city, 32 highway, 27 combined
MPG (As tested mixed conditions): 26
Engine (As tested): 1.8 Liter Intercooled Turbo, 170 hp @ 6200 rpm. 184 torque @ 1500 rpm.
Transmission: Automatic w/OD
Wheelbase (in): 100
Length, Overall (in): 168.4
Width, Max w/o mirrors (in): 71.2
Height, Overall (in): 58
Passenger Capacity: 4
Passenger Volume (cu. ft.): 81.4
Front Head Room (in): 39.3
Front Leg Room (in): 41.3
Front Shoulder Room (in): 55.3
Second Head Room (in): 37.6
Second Leg Room (in): 31.4
Second Shoulder Room (in): 43.1
Basic warranty: 36 months/36,000miles
Corrosion perforation warranty: 144 months/ unlimited distance
Maintenance warranty: 24 months/24,000miles
Powertrain warranty: 60 months/60,000miles
Roadside assistance coverage: 36 months/36,000miles