By on March 13, 2019

When you start life advertising yer brand as “The People’s Car,” you’d better have a hella good value proposition. Fortunately for Volkswagen, that’s exactly what it had when the brand burst onto these shores all those years ago. Before long, driveways and parking lots were filled with affordable Bugs as customers bought into the Size Small lifestyle.

What’s is it like these days, though? This calendar year is, allegedly, the final one for the stalwart VW Beetle. Does it still offer value for money? Or is it fading away into the wings as an overpriced retro throwback that should be thrown back in favor of a Golf or Jetta? Let’s find out.

Volkswagen continually improved the original Beetle during its production years, increasing its engine size and adding safety equipment. Assembly of the original rear-engined Bug continued until 2003, although it disappeared from our showrooms much earlier.

These efforts were followed by the New Beetle in 1999 and the New New Beetle a few years later, a machine that was a bit more angular in an attempt to shed its too-cute status. Your author thinks it worked, too; in the right color, with a set of dog dish hubcaps, the most recent Beetle is not a car in which the driver needs to wear a paper bag over their head.

Starting at $20,895, the base model Beetle is equipped with several features historically reserved for trims higher up the totem pole, such as a blind spot monitoring system and 16-inch alloys. A natty spoiler juts from the rear deck like the bottom lip of a spoilt Hollywood child whose parent bought them into college.

One can expect more than just the basics when it comes to the Beetle’s color palette, as options from Deep Black Pearl to Silk Blue Metallic are no-charge options on the S for 2019. The tasty Habanero Orange is a $250 upcharge, sadly. Taking the $3,000+ walk to the Final Edition trim unlocks a few more options from the paint booth. Either way, even your 6’6” author will find plenty of headroom inside Der Beetle, as its tall dome allows for all but the tallest of NBA superstars to wear their favorite top hat while driving.

Allegedly, the 174 horsepower 2.0T mill working away under the bonnet is good for 33 mpg on the highway cycle, which is either thanks to the engine’s efficiency or its suppository-shaped bodywork. This means a maximum cruising range of nearly 500 miles. The sole listed transmission option is a six-speed automatic, branded a TipTronic with sport modes. Cruise, a leather-wrapped wheel, and touchscreen infotainment are all standard on the base Beetle.

Twenty grand isn’t exactly bargain bin pricing territory, but it is pretty good value given the standard level of kit and dose of nostalgia sought by most Bug customers. Production of the Beetle will cease this year, largely thanks to changing market tastes. Leaving the door open just a crack, VW boss Hinrich Woebcken said “Never say never” to the possibility of the Beetle returning someday, perhaps as an electric car.

[Images: Volkswagen Group]

Not every base model has aced it. The ones which have? They help make the automotive landscape a lot better. Any others you can think of, B&B? Let us know in the comments. Naturally, feel free to eviscerate our selection.

The model above is shown in American dollars with American options and trim, absent of destination charges and available rebates. As always, your dealer may sell for less.

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20 Comments on “Ace of Base: 2019 Volkswagen Beetle S...”

  • avatar

    Engine’s in the wrong place; hood’s too long; overall this is no longer a “Beetle”, no matter the the name they give it.

  • avatar

    The real ace of base here is a lightly used ’18, which goes for mid-teens money and has the remainder of the 6/72 warranty.

  • avatar

    What other $20,000 2 door vehicles are left? Civic, …..?

  • avatar

    Turbo but no manual?


  • avatar

    I was taking a three day 1000 mile round trip so I rented a car for 30+MPG vs the 17mpg I get with mine. They gave me a choice of a Beetle or a Kia Soul. I went with the Beetle because of better gas mileage. This was 2 years ago so it had the 1.8 turbo motor. It was the noisiest car I have ever driven on the highway. I couldn’t believe it. It was like it had zero sound deadening. When a car would pass you it sounded like the windows were down, high domed roof made sound bounce around. I was miserable in it. Luckily I had to drive around locally for 40 miles or so before leaving and noticed that the odometer and gas gauge weren’t working. So I went back and they gave me an Altima for trip. But wow I’ll never forget the noise.

  • avatar

    The “new” Beetle in all versions has never been something I really wanted, but I will miss its slightly unusual profile on the road once its gone. Everything looks the same anymore. But I didn’t even consider it when shopping the VW store for my Golf, GTI or even Jetta. Though I am a sucker for any convertible…

  • avatar

    I liked this generation but I’m not nearly secure enough to ever seriously shop one.

    • 0 avatar

      If they sent it off with a GLI edition that would be worth man dollars. ;-)

      • 0 avatar

        They basically built this, once upon a time. In a former life, I sold Volkswagens. We had the New Beetle Turbo S, which was, for all intents and purposes, a Beetle GTI/GLI.

        It was a really fun car to drive. Had a more powerful engine, sport seats, manual trans, etc.

        Never sold well, but was the best Beetle aside from the 90hp TDI, maybe.

    • 0 avatar

      My friends with the Beetle convertible are starting to consider selling it–their kids are getting too big for the whole family to ride in it–but, like ajla, I’m just not secure enough to make them an offer.

      The wife was to have been its primary driver, but in reality the husband has put more miles on it. His “man bona fides” are such (great job, degrees from two elite universities, height of about 6’6″, wife, kids, never cared too much about others’ opinions and especially doesn’t now that he’s into middle age) that he’s going to drive whatever he wants.

      As I chime in whenever the Beetle gets mentioned here, it’s been a great car for them. And it doesn’t really have a direct competitor on the current market.

  • avatar

    The Original air-cooled Beetle gets way more positive press than it ever deserved. Yes , it became a part of the 60’s/counter culture but as a vehicle it was lacking even by the standards of the 1960’s. It was very prone to rust thru, it had lousy heating and defrosting, in a crash it was a death trap,and the flat four engine would all to often break off a valve and send it into a piston.Having owned of these back in the day, it was fun , but then again almost anything can be fun when your 18. The reborn “Bug” lacked the originals most distinctive feature, The exhaust sound. IMO.

    • 0 avatar

      “as a vehicle it was lacking even by the standards of the 1960’s”

      Considering that it was engineered in the 1930s, that isn’t very surprising.

    • 0 avatar

      Every car in those days was prone to rust thru. Also, arguably, most cars were death traps in the 60’s.

    • 0 avatar

      For me, that was the charm of the originals. Driving a piece of history where the heater was routed through the frame up to the outer corners of the windshield as an alleged defroster. Diddling with the Solex carb, readjusting the points in the distributor, driving across St. Louis in rush-hour traffic without a clutch because the cable broke – Beetles kept me out of trouble in my younger days because I was either lying under it or had my head under that hood. And, yes, because of the cooling air flowpath from the fan through the shrouding, #3 cylinder was apt to suck a valve through the piston and toss it about in the crankcase.

      • 0 avatar

        If I remember from my work as a parts mgr back then, the busses with the 1.7 litre engines were bad for valves. In order to make the engine more pancake, they laid the oil cooler on its side, and that blocked the flow of air to #3 cylinder. They changed to sodium filled exhaust valves to try to help the cooling, but a fully loaded Westfalia going up a long hill still could create a problem.
        I also remember the fuel pump pushrod wearing to the point that the pump wouldn’t output enough fuel, and the butterfly valves shafts in the carbs wearing oblong holes in the carb bodies, requiring a bushing kit to fix them. I thought I’d forgotten all this.

  • avatar

    This thing is still here?

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