Your other wheels: Iconic Beetle offers new thrills

First off, let me say that I have never considered myself a VW Beetle person. Never owned one, never wanted one. Until now, that is. After a week in the 2014 Beetle diesel convertible, I could be a convert.

Wider stance, more sophisticated look an great performance make this a winner

Wider stance, more sophisticated look an great performance make this a winner

It may be the refined look of the exterior. Or, it could be the extremely comfortable interior with plenty of space for four. Or, and this could be the kicker, the terrific TDI diesel engine . The vehicle I drove was the top-of-the line with a 2.0 diesel turbocharged engine (140hp and 236 lbs. -ft. of torque) with an automatic 6-speed transmission. Very good fuel efficiency of 28/37 and average mpg of 31.

Top up or down

Top up or down

Not inexpensive, the gray metallic with a beige interior was priced at $30,795, the sound/nav packaged with VW RNS 315 touch screen and Fender Premium Audio System which were well worth the add-on price. Other accessories were the wind deflector with storage shelf, chrome exhaust tips, floor mats, security wheel locks and first aid kit, bringing the package to $32,500.

I cringed when I first looked at the Monroney (that’s the window sticker you see at the dealership), but that was before I got inside to drive test it.

This baby moves, and looks good in the process. (And so do you.) This new TDI Clean Diesel, mated to the DSG Automatic Transmission has a bit less horsepower than the turbocharged gasoline engines in the marked, but no matter, since it also has the highest torque output of any of them.

Look to the transmission for that great performance. The dual clutch 6-speed has the versatility of a manual when you want it, with VW’s Tiptronic function. Unique is the fact that the tranny is actually two gear boxes in one — one wet clutch separately control the odd number gears — 1st, 3rd, 5th and reverse, while the other controls the een gear. The result is that, while driving in one gear while the next-higher is already selected by not engaged. Reaching optimal engine revolutions causes the electronic intelligence makes the move seamlessly to the next gear.

Safe and sexy

Safe and sexy

About a thousand years ago, VW took a lot of heat for the safety of the Beetle, but that is far in the past. Today, ultra high-strength steel is hot formed in the crashload paths, a reinforced front roof crossmember, rollover support system and strengthened A-pillar make this 2014 Beetle and safe and secure choice.

Later this year, VW will add two features — an available rearview camera and VW Car-Net connected services. This feature adds automatic crash notification, roadside assistance and stolen vehicle locator, as well as remote vehicle access, boundary and speed alerts, vehicle health report and additions to the nav system on vehicles which have it. A smartphone app for iPhone and Android devices is the tool for accessing.

Clean, easy-to-read controls above the console

Clean, easy-to-read controls above the console

Bottom Line

This is not a cheapy vehicle for transportation and fuel efficiency.  It is a well-designed and executed car with an impressive point of view.  Performance and appearance are both there in force and it is a delight to drive with the top up or down.  This would be a perfect choice for that second vehicle when you don’t want to drive the bigger truck or SUV in your personal fleet.

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