The word “iconic” gets used a lot nowadays, but it certainly applies to VW’s curvy coupe, which has been in production—in some form or another—since 1938. The hatchbacked 2016 Volkswagen Beetle is the grandchild of the original, and the family resemblance is obvious. Not so obvious is the Beetle’s future. Some reports have VW cancelling the car after 2018, since sales of the current Bug have slipped significantly in recent years, right in line with overall demand for its few remaining rivals. In fact, there really aren’t any coupes with its size, price and reputation for style over athleticism. It does stack up surprisingly well in some areas against the so-called sportier mainstream choices that are available, however.
2016 Volkswagen Beetle Road Test and Review
2016 Volkswagen Beetle: Pricing and Trim Levels
The basic 2016 Volkswagen Beetle bows at $19,795, so it is more costly than the (much) smaller FIAT 500, which starts at $16,995, and it’s even slightly more than the new Honda Civic Coupe (MSRP: $19,050). Among other possible competitors, the Kia Forte Koup and Scion tC are $19,890 and $20,180. Just be aware that the Beetle actually comes with a standard automatic transmission; that’s hundreds extra for both the Civic and tC. Further, even as the entry Beetle brings standard features like a an eight-speaker, touchscreen audio system with Bluetooth, VW serves up SE and SEL trims, the latter opening at $25,975 with lux cues like a panoramic sunroof and advanced smartphone integration.
2016 Volkswagen Beetle: Body Styles
Although we focus here on the 2016 Volkswagen Beetle hardtop, folks should keep in mind that VW also continues its tradition of offering a convertible edition. Today’s open-air Bug has a starting price of $25,490 and comes with a power-operated soft top that can be opened in just 9.5 seconds—with the car on the move at speeds of up to 31 mph—and then closed and latched in 11. And thanks to the efficient design of the top mechanism, the Beetle’s trunk space is unchanged, at 7.4 cubic feet, regardless of whether the roof is open or closed. (That said, that’s also about half the standard space in the cargo hold of the Beetle proper.)
2016 Volkswagen Beetle: Power, Performance and Efficiency
It may be true that the 2016 Volkswagen Beetle isn’t considered to be a particularly sporty car, but it’s powertrains compare quite favorably with those found in the other coupes. The Beetle’s standard 1.8-liter turbo, for example, can deliver 170 horsepower and 184 lb.-ft. of torque. The 2016 Civic Coupe makes 158/138, and it’s most powerful current engine tops out at 174/162. Meanwhile, the Beetle’s available 2.0-liter turbo unit can force out 210 horses and 207 lb.-ft. of torque—more than supplied by any of the 2016 rivals mentioned here. As for its EPA ratings, the Beetle can reach 25 mpg city/34 mpg highway/28 mpg combined.
2016 Volkswagen Beetle: Exterior Design and Lighting
The inimitable design of the 2016 Volkswagen Beetle hews much closer to the style of the first-generation Bug than did the “New Beetle” (1997-2011), though VW also points out that the current car is noticeably lower than the first, for a bolder look. Additionally, modernized style cues such as LED daytime running lights and taillights update the Beetle’s look, and a standard rear spoiler is a nice finishing touch.
Physically, the 2016 Beetle is approximately eight inches longer, at 168.4 inches, with that mark emphasizing the VW’s unique size: The Civic, Forte Koup and tC run from 176.9 inches to 178.3 inches, and the Fiat 500 is a diminutive 139.6 inches in length.
2016 Volkswagen Beetle: Interior Design and Capacities
The exterior of the 2016 Volkswagen Beetle has its influence in the cabin as well. Thus, the arching roofline of the Beetle enables more headroom front and back (39.4 and 37.1 inches) than the Honda Civic, for one, but the VW car is fairly tight on rear-seat legroom, with less than in the Fiat 500 (31.4 inches vs. 31.7). On the other hand, because the Beetle only supplies accommodations for two rear-seat passengers, those two seats do maximize what space there is.
The design of the cockpit also complements the car’s curves with dramatic cues of its own, from the traditional, like the dual-glovebox dashboard, to the modern, such as a flat-bottomed steering wheel.
2016 Volkswagen Beetle: Infotainment and Audio
This is one area where the 2016 Volkswagen Beetle faces firmly into the future: It’s new infotainment system showcases the latest in cutting-edge smartphone integration, and not only in support of Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, but also for MirrorLink, an independent platform. VW's Car-Net App-Connect technology is available as well, for access to popular mobile apps and enhanced telematics functions. For enhanced audio performance, Volkswagen provides an available premium sound system from Fender, backed by 400 watts of power.
Nor is the Beetle limited to a traditional nav system. For instance, Volkswagen's setup can be controlled via voice recognition, yet it also has a high-tech touchscreen with proximity sensors, so that its popup menu only appears as your fingers approach the screen.
2016 Volkswagen Beetle: Safety Ratings and Technology
The 2016 Volkswagen Beetle relies on a rigid body structure made from ultra-high-strength steel to achieve a 5-Star Overall Safety Score from NHTSA, and it pairs that grade with some of VW’s—and the industry’s—most in-demand driver-assistance technologies. Naturally, this includes a rearview camera that’s standard on the mid-range SE trim, along with an available blind-spot monitor/rear traffic-alert system with automatic-braking capability.
Then there’s the standard Automatic Post-Collision Braking System that’s a VW specialty. If there is an impact that’s hard enough to be picked up by the airbag sensors, it automatically engages the Beetle’s brakes to help prevent a secondary collision.
Photo Credit: Volkswagen
2016 Volkswagen Beetle: Special Editions
Paying homage to desert-racing Baja Bugs is the 2016 Volkswagen Beetle Dune Edition, which even gains added ground clearance and a rear skid plate/diffuser to go with its exclusive design details. Among those are revised front and rear fascias, prominent side moldings, and a yellow-accented instrument panel for a two-toned cabin effect—all wrapped in a Sandstorm Yellow exterior finish. “Dune” graphics also adorn the doors, while a larger rear spoiler holds down the rear. Moreover, VW’s coming attractions include the 2017 #PinkBeetle, wearing the expected exterior hue, premium content, and the industry’s first officially hash-tagged name.
2016 Volkswagen Beetle: Final Thoughts
As both the industry and VW continue to shift their resources to crossovers, reflecting the current state of customer interest, cars like the 2016 Volkswagen Beetle are having trouble attracting drivers despite their obvious benefits. Even successfully campaigning the Bug in Red Bull’s Global Rallycross series hasn’t jump-started its sales. Now, it may be too early to start with the “buy one before they stop production” routine, but that point is likely coming, and Beetle lovers may want to make their move before any kind of final-edition markups make their appearance. This is, after all, probably the best Beetle ever.