2019 Volkswagen Beetle

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2019 Volkswagen Beetle Hatchback Review: Hasta Luego, Volkswagen Beetle

The Beetle, the most famous of all Volkswagen's creations, is being retired again. Production of the sub-compact retro hatchback in Mexico - from where all Volkswagen Beetles are shipped worldwide - will come to an end later this year. For now, though the 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder developing 174 horsepower continues, along with a six-speed automatic gearbox and front-wheel-drive, creating a nippy, fun, joyful drive that many Volkswagen enthusiasts will be sad to see go. For everyone else, the Beetle is no longer the cheap, practical, and basic car its grandfather was. The MQB underpinnings mean it's merely a Golf in drag; and while this may mean it comes with loads of refinement, the icon has simply become redundant. That being said, the ride is exceptionally civilized and the handling makes for an entertaining drive. Competing with the VW Golf and retro offerings from Fiat and Mini, the VW Beetle aims to bow out once more with dignity.

Read in this review:

  • Exterior Design 7 /10
  • Performance 6 /10
  • Fuel Economy 7 /10
  • Interior & Cargo 8 /10
  • Infotainment & Features 8 /10
  • Reliability 7 /10
  • Safety 8 /10
  • Value For Money 7 /10
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2019 Volkswagen Beetle Hatchback Changes: 🚙What’s the difference vs 2018 Beetle Hatchback?

As is the custom when Volkswagen retires a model (whether permanently or not), special editions are available for 2019 under the Final Edition moniker. Expanding the model lineup when the vehicle is about to be retired would not have made sense. Volkswagen has therefore elected to trim the range by cutting the Dune and Coast variants. At the same time, all models have now been equipped with blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert as standard.

Pros and Cons

  • More practical than its retro competition
  • Decent fuel economy and reasonable power
  • Competitively priced versus other chic retro models
  • Funky interior with reasonable space
  • Good forward visibility
  • Not as useful or as well-specced as a regular sub-compact
  • Lack of driver aids
  • No manual option

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2019 Volkswagen Beetle Trims

See trim levels and configurations:

Trim Engine Transmission Drivetrain Price (MSRP)
2.0T S
2.0L Turbo Inline-4 Gas
6-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
2.0T Final Edition SE
2.0L Turbo Inline-4 Gas
6-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
2.0T SE
2.0L Turbo Inline-4 Gas
6-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
2.0T Final Edition SEL
2.0L Turbo Inline-4 Gas
6-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
See All 2019 Volkswagen Beetle Trims and Specs

Handling and Driving Impressions

A smooth ride and a playful chassis characterize the driving experience in the Beetle, with this turning out to be a properly fun car to drive while still maintaining excellent ride composure over big and small bumps alike. The smooth suspension damping creates a pleasurable driving experience even on long drives. Potholes and corrugations in the road surface are soaked up with ease while the tight chassis makes turning in a breeze.

A comfortable cruiser, the Bug is also capable of entertaining the driver when asked, with no fuss or excessive tire squeal when you get a little enthusiastic. The chuckable nature of the car's chassis tuning encourages drivers to carry as much momentum as possible through bends, rewarding you without adding unnecessary drama. Although the Mini Hardtop Cooper S and Abarth 500 are arguably even better at mimicking a go-kart's handling characteristics, those are the performance versions of already pricey cars and the Beetle can be just as fun without forking out nearly as much money.

Braking, on the other hand, will keep you honest and remind you that you are not driving a performance car, as the bite point on the pedal is a little lower than we'd like, necessitating firm inputs when you're really shunting the car.

Verdict: 🏁Is the 2019 Volkswagen Beetle a good car?

So is the Beetle worth considering? Well, in review, it has less than perfect safety ratings, its interior is a little too cheap-feeling and too brightly accented for some, and it certainly is not the most spacious vehicle in the subcompact segment, especially with the Golf around. Gas mileage isn't particularly astounding either and the infotainment system is adequate but with a smaller screen than in many rivals.

However, this is the final year that the Beetle is being produced, and VW is even incentivizing its purchase, with the regular SE being priced higher than its better equipped Final Edition brother. If that kind of preemptive nostalgia speaks to you in any way, this may be worth a look for you. The Beetle is not a car you buy for its capabilities but for its character, and this 2019 model has it in buckets, with retro but tasteful styling accents, fun handling, and an unmistakable presence that almost nobody can bring themselves to hate. If you don't need massive practicality and do like a charming machine that almost has a soul, the Beetle ticks all the right boxes.

Check out other Volkswagen Beetle Styles

2019 Volkswagen Beetle Comparisons

Mini Cooper Hardtop Mini
Fiat 500 Fiat

2019 Volkswagen Beetle vs Mini Cooper Hardtop

The last generation of the Volkswagen Beetle Hatchback arguably inspired the Mini's revival in the USA, so is the "original" retro car better? In terms of base price, cargo space, and interior roominess, the Beetle is certainly the clear winner, making it the more practical car by a long shot. In terms of fuel economy, the two cars are very similarly matched. However, that's where the upshots end for the Bug. The Mini is available with either a manual or an optional auto box, has multiple engine variants in the lineup, and can be well customized with numerous add-ons, while the Beetle's personalization offerings end with your choice of color. The Cooper is also the sharper handling vehicle and has a far better-built interior. This car feels premium next to the VW. However, for the size of car, it's quite expensive and options add up quickly. The Mini is the one to choose if you want to make a statement, while the Beetle makes the most of its simplicity and is more usable.

See Mini Cooper Hardtop Review

2019 Volkswagen Beetle vs Fiat 500

The Fiat 500 is the retro hatch that has arguably stayed truest to its roots, keeping its size down considerably better than its counterparts. Unfortunately, this takes a toll on the comfort and practicality of the car, as even front occupants will feel a little too close together, while the cargo space of the 500 won't carry nearly as many shopping bags in the back and the rear seats will frequently be used for additional storage. On the plus side, finding a parking space and maneuvering into it is much easier, but that's the only plus point this car possesses beyond its charm and admittedly much lower base price (over $4,000). The Beetle is a much more economical car despite a considerably higher power output. The little Fiat suffers from a lack of torque, making it slow to get going while acceleration is usually not adequate except to pass the slowest traffic. The Beetle is a clear winner here.

See Fiat 500 Review

2019 Volkswagen Beetle Popular Comparisons

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