The iconic Volkswagen Beetle, informally called the VW Bug is as well known as any vehicle on the planet. The Beetle is the longest running and most manufactured car of a single design platform in the world. This week we’ll get a chance to test drive a 2013 Volkswagen Beetle Coupe with a diesel powerplant. The diesel is not new to the Beetle as Volkswagen prototyped the first one in 1951. But diesel technology has come a long way and we’ll see how the 2.0-liter turbodiesel Beetle performs in our week of driving.
The Volkswagen Beetle was completely redesigned for 2012 and there are no real changes except for 2013, a Beetle convertible joins the lineup. We tested a Denim Blue TDI Coupe that looks more dynamic and muscular than the pre-2012 models. The newly styled Beetle is a bit less cute and feminine than before. Upon first entering the cabin, it feels less like a capsule than the previous generation Beetle. We took the three grand daughters to the park and access to the rear is easy with the wide doors. The back seat is great for kids, but with just 31.4 inches of legroom, adults will have an issue for trips longer than a few miles.
The turbocharged diesel is well-proven
The coupe has a decent amount of room inside, with 85 cubic feet. Front legroom is plentiful, and there is good visibility out the front and rear, even with the low roof and high beltline. The interior is uncluttered and instrumentation is so clean and simple, it’s memorable for its rarity these days. In the center of the dash sits a three instrument display that shows the oil temperature, boost pressure and a lap timer. This test driver felt like he needed a pair of driving gloves after getting behind the wheel. This tester came with V-Tex Leatherette seats that were comfortable and stylish.
If you after performance and fuel economy, go with the TDI turbocharged direct-injection diesel engine. Volkswagen has been using this engine successfully in the Golf and Jetta models and is well-proven. The 2.0-liter turbodiesel delivers a modest 140 horsepower, but pumps out 236 pound-feet of torque. Torque is what will propel the Beetle up a hill at scary speeds. And the turbodiesel delivers excellent fuel mileage. The TDI with its 2.0-liter turbodiesel, is EPA rated at 29 City/39 Highway when equipped with the DSG automatic transmission.
The diesel is clean and has a quiet ride
And you don’t need to worry about the diesel being noisy and belching black smoke. It’s clean and it’s a quiet ride. The 2.0-liter turbodiesel with the DSG transmission is designed for those who want good performance to go along with fuel-efficiency. The 2013 Beetle TDI has enough power to get anyone in trouble with the local police. This driver had a hard time keeping the Beetle coupe within the speed limit during the week of driving on the interstate between the mountains and the city.
A six-speed manual is standard, but we like the DSG automatic with Tiptronic and Sport mode. It snaps off relatively quick shifts, and has smooth shifts when pushed hard in the turbo. The harder the car is driven, the more it grew on this driver. It features a manual shift capability and done with side-to-side movements using the lever. The TDI diesel in the Beetle just begs the driver to get into the turbo and feel the neck-snapping torque.
A good commuter that’s fun to drive
The Beetle TDI coupe ($24,395) comes well equipped with V-Tex leatherette upholstery, tilt/telescoping leather-wrapped steering wheel, height-adjustable front seats with driver’s side lumbar adjustment, heated front seats, split folding rear seat, heated power mirrors, AM/FM/CD/MP3 player, auxiliary input jack, iPod interface, and Bluetooth. The TDI coupe also gets steering-wheel audio controls, center console, keyless access and starting, and satellite radio.
The 2013 Beetle TDI Coupe wins in a number of areas. It’s smooth, quiet, comfortable, economical, and fast enough to get in trouble with the local law enforcement. Instrumentation and controls are simple and the cabin doesn’t feel like a capsule. Rear legroom is tight, but access is easy, and the fold-down rear seats create a nice cargo space. For performance and outstanding fuel mileage the diesel-powered Beetle TDI is a good choice. The Beetle is a good commuter car that’s also fun to drive.