Copywriter, technical writer, translator (FR>EN, ES>EN, IT>EN), journalist

Fond Farewell: the 2019 Volkswagen Beetle Wolfsburg Edition

In the automotive world (as in the business world) brands come and brands go. Models last from a forgettable year or two to decades of sales dominance.

That’s why this review is bittersweet. I aim to compare vehicles every few model years to see what manufacturers change. Barring another comeback, my time with the 2019 Volkswagen Beetle Wolfsburg Edition is the last in a series.

First impressions

If you clicked the link above, it took you to the VW site sporting a picture of the Bug and the words “The last of its kind.” That’s a shame. What started (many) decades ago as a utilitarian “people’s car” has since become a design icon beloved by motorists the world over. That goes for the original 1938 Beetle AND the 1990s ”new” Beetle.

My Safari Beige tester certainly preserves the basic body shape full of curves and round shapes. The spoiler just under the rear window may be matches the curve of the hatchback. VW even stuck with mirror hubcaps in this era of brake-baring wheels. Those hubcaps each sport eight thick partial spokes that look like they are meant to keep the hubcap on the wheel. If the look doesn’t suit you, VW does offer more modern options.

The power sunroof called for a black section on the roof. That makes the design a little busier than the simpler classic.

Fun fact – the VW roundel on the hatch door audibly pops up when you put the Bug in reverse so that the rear-view camera can peek out. It audibly shuts moments after you take the transmission out of reverse.

That roundel may also be among the more creative hatch-opening mechanisms on the market. Press the “V” section (using your thumb) and the “W” section pops out so you can pull it up (using your other four fingers) to open the hatch. This is not a new design touch, but it is one of the things that made the Beetle a little different, and something that will be missed once the Beetle is no longer in production.

Interior

Fortunately, said sunroof does not cramp the interior. The external paint job sweeps into the cabin, making up parts of the doors and the dash. The original glovebox is on one of these bits, but it’s tiny, so VW added a larger glovebox underneath.

Manually adjustable two-tone leather seats coordinate nicely with the outside colours. “Diamond” cross-sticthing adds an elegant touch to an overall fun seat design.

image courtesy Volkswagen

Ambient lighting strips frame the round door-mounted speakers and is also visible elsewhere on the doors. You switch between three different lighting colours using a dial to the left of (and obscured by) the steering wheel. That dial is clustered with other lighting adjustments, so you might find yourself changing other lighting preferences when you reach for it.

An elastic material will keep water bottles firmly in the door storage compartment, which is great. Not so great – having the centre armrest down makes one of the two cupholders unusable.

Hockey bag test

The bag fit longitudinally, and sticks poked through one of the 50-50 fold-down rear seats. I had to move the front passenger seat up to properly accommodate the sticks – the cabin isn’t overly long.

In-cabin technology

Volkswagen provides the full infotainment suite via the centre 6.3” touchscreen. Androind Auto tm, Apple Carplay® and MirrorLink® work through VW’s App-Connect smartphone integration. Keyless entry, satellite navigation and the aforementioned power sunroof also dress up what was once a much more basic runabout.

A screen in the otherwise analog instrument cluster provides access to information like the trip computer and fuel comsumption. You switch between these screens using buttons on the leather-wrapped steering wheel. I’d like to see the wheel also sport buttons for cruise control. Those controls are on the turning signal stalk. In VW’s defense, those buttons are easy enough to get used to.

Driving

A 2.0L engine produces 174 hp that travels to the front wheels through a 6-speed automatic transmission. I wonder what this Bug might have felt like if VW offered a 6-speed manual like the shifter available in the Golf. VW is not the only automaker that has been facing diminishing demand for three-pedal variants of its vehicles. Still…

VW offers few active safety features on the Bug, though blind spot detection with rear cross-traffic alert ships standard.

Fuel consumption

Volkswagen posts a city mileage average of 9.0 L/100 km and highway average of 7.1 L/100 km.

Pricing

The base 2019 Volkswagen Beetle Wolfsburg Edition retails for $24,475 MSRP. For other options, check out the Beetle Dune, the other model Volkswagen offers during this swan song year.

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