2013 Volkswagen Beetle TDI: Driving Impressions
The 2013 Volkswagen Beetle TDI presented us with a dual personality that had us pining for the warmer climes where we had driven previous turbodiesel VW models in the past. To put it simply, the VW Beetle TDI did not like the cold. Having already pointed out the car's uncharacteristic fuel consumption, we must also inform you of the balky behavior of its DSG automated manual transmission during its time in our care.
Normally, we are happy with the quick shifts provided by the computer-controlled gearbox, but the lower operating temperatures we exposed the Beetle TDI to introduced a significant lag when it automatically selected one forward cog or another, which had the car lurching forward in a distinctly unsmooth manner. Not only that, but the programmed 'creep' feature which allows the DSG unit to simulate the forward motion of a traditional torque converter tranny when one's foot is removed from the brake pedal was likewise jerky off of the line.
The Volkswagen Beetle TDI's lack of transmission response really put a dent in our ability to enjoy the normally bottomless torque that associated with its 236 lb-ft rating. Although not intended to be revved much past the 5,000 rpm mark, the engine is truly an excellent power plant that is well suited for commuting duties - were it backed by an old-school automatic, or even the standard six-speed manual. We simply can't recommend the DSG transmission in colder climates.
We were able to coax respectable handling from the Beetle TDI despite the slick, icy pavement we were forced to contend with, although the abrupt power delivery of the DSG system had us unexpectedly fending off torque steer from time to time. One won't be delighted in quite the same way as when piloting another well-sprung compact car from Volkswagen like the GTI hatchback, but the Beetle TDI is comfortable and confident at all speeds.