2019 VW Beetle Final Edition Review

by Lawana Perkins | Posted on Saturday, December 1st, 2018

We’re approaching the end of an era once more. Volkswagen is discontinuing the Beetle. It’s strange, and a bit sad, to imagine the company without the model — again — that made it famous. This time it’s going out with a bit of pomp and circumstance in Mexico, where Volkswagen brought us to experience the hatchback’s Final Edition trim during Dia de los Muertos celebrations.

2019 VW Beetle

Any discussion of the last Beetle does merit a review of the cars that got us here: the original air-cooled Bug and the follow-up New Beetle. The original hardly needs introduction, transforming from strange European curiosity to economy car phenomenon through the 1960s. But toward the end of its life, it was a victim of its unchanging design. The competition became more efficient, more comfortable, faster and safer. And of course, there was less reason to buy a new model when there were oodles of previous models on the used market that weren’t that different from what was on the showroom floor.

That brings us to this generation of Beetle, which launched for the 2012 model year. It was completely redesigned with all-new underpinnings. It featured more aggressive styling, as well as fresh engines, even a punchy 200-horsepower engine like that in the GTI. The 2019 Final Edition we’re driving marks the seventh year for the hatchback, and besides discovering whether this vehicle is still good, we also seem to have discovered why it’s leaving us again.

The Final Edition Beetle’s uniqueness boils down to a flashier interior and exterior — that’s it. Inside, this car’s full up on every shiny chrome bit VW offers, coated with a candy shell of two exclusive colors: Stonewashed Blue (first seen on the Beetle Denim), and Safari Uni beige. The two colors reflect the blue and beige hues available on the 2003 VW Beetle Ultima Edition, the last of the air-cooled classic Beetles. If the nostalgia is lost on you, white, black, and silver are also available.

Together, the powertrain is impressively quiet and smooth, emitting just occasional turbo whistles and a bit of hum at high rpm. On paper, the output looks competitive, putting it in contention with the turbo Honda Civic and 2.5-liter Mazda3, but it doesn’t feel very fast. It keeps up with traffic fine, but floor it and you’ll be wishing for more grunt. There were a number of times in hectic Mexican traffic that it felt downright slow.

And if you had to have two doors, you can find a solution outside VW with the Civic coupe. It offers up similar power and similar pricing, but with better fuel economy, a more spacious rear seat, and more modern, sophisticated driving dynamics.

That’s all speculation — there’s no guarantee the Beetle will return. In the here and now, we’re sad to see the Beetle go away for sentimental reasons. But we also know there’s no way it could continue on as-is. The competition is better, and the public wants things the Beetle can’t deliver — or something else entirely.

All of which has left the Beetle a car stuck in time, and its time has run out.


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