First Drive: 2019 Volkswagen Beetle Final Edition
Celebrating the end of the latest Beetle era with a whisper
PUEBLA, Mexico — As I'm writing this, there's a question lingering in my mind: Why didn't Volkswagen go out with a bang by creating a truly special homage to the classic Beetle as a way of properly saying auf wiedersehen to one of its most treasured nameplates? Instead, it's sending the Bug off with a whisper in the form of the 2019 Volkswagen Beetle Final Edition.
This isn't the first time Volkswagen has produced a final edition Beetle for North America. A few years after introducing the New Beetle in 1998, production of the last of the air-cooled Bugs was marked by an "Última Edición" Beetle in Mexico. Then in 2009, Volkswagen revealed the 2010 New Beetle Final Edition at the Los Angeles auto show. But that wasn't the end of the line for the modern interpretation of VW's famed model thanks to the arrival of the current generation Beetle for the 2012 model year.
So is this the final Final Edition Beetle? Volkswagen has indicated as such, although according to the rumor mill an electrified Bug may be in the offing. One thing's for sure, given its steady sales decline it's clear that the Beetle will need to be completely reimagined if in fact VW does decide to revive it once again.
As production of the present generation Beetle starts to wind down, Volkswagen had us out to the factory where it builds them in Puebla during Mexico's Día de Muertos celebrations for a drive of the Final Edition models and a little celebration of its own. Appropriate, given that the Beetle will be muertos as of next summer.
But before I dive into my analysis of the 2019 Beetle Final Edition, I'd like to share some trivia with you:
When the Volkswagen Beetle was first introduced in Germany in 1938, it was almost called the "strength through joy" car, but later became known as "the people's car." Upon receiving a contract from Hitler to build a low-cost vehicle, Ferdinand Porsche designed the Beetle after the Tatra 97, which he was sued for and later settled. More than 20 million copies of the air-cooled, 1938-2003 Beetle model were sold worldwide—making it the most manufactured single design car of all time.
If thou shall ever make it to Jeopardy and any of this information deems to be helpful in winning a huge load of cash, don't forget about yours truly.
Alright, back to the review. For starters, the 2019 Final Edition Beetle is available in two trims: Final Edition SE and Final Edition SEL, and you can get it in either coupe or convertible flavors. Pop the hood and you'll find a 2.0-liter turbo engine with 174 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque that powers the Beetle lineup, mated to six-speed automatic transmission. The combination helps the car post solid EPA numbers of 26/33/29 mpg (city/highway/combined). A manual transmission option would've made the Beetle Final Edition a more thrilling proposition, but sadly those days are long gone.
The Final Edition SEL convertible, priced at $30,690 with destination, is the most expensive trim in the Beetle lineup. It features a premium package most other Beetle buyers will need to pony up $2,500 for that adds a Fender premium audio system, 6.3-inch touchscreen with navigation, Volkswagen Car-Net, Bi-Xenon headlights, and Nappa leather seats. But the best part of the package is its set of sweet, retro-style 18-inch wheels with white accents that add some personality.
Aesthetically speaking, other than the available rims, what makes the 2019 Final Edition Beetle more desirable than the rest of the Beetle lineup? Not a whole lot, unfortunately. Just for kicks I did a side-by-side comparison with a 2018 Beetle Coast model I drove earlier this year and they're almost identical. That said, there are a few unique exterior touches, including a Beetle badge which replaces the Turbo badge on the rear deck. There are also two colors exclusive to the Final Edition models that were inspired by the Última Edición: Stonewashed Blue Metallic and Safari Uni.
Inside, Final Edition refinements include a high-gloss black center console, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with an added "Beetle" badge, and stainless-steel pedal caps. To set the right mood at night there are three ambient lighting colors to choose from. Final Edition SEL models get the aforementioned, more upscale Diamond-stitched Nappa leather seats, though the Rhombus-pattern cloth and leatherette seats in the Final Edition SE are arguably as attractive. Final Edition SE trims and above also get a neat, throwback style glovebox known as the "Beetle bin," with an upward folding lid. Safety features standard on all Beetles include blind spot monitor, rear traffic alert, rearview camera, and a tire pressure monitoring system.
Out on the streets of Puebla, I sampled a Final Edition SE convertible and a Final Edition SEL coupe, but spent most of my time behind the wheel of the convertible.
As expected, the humble Beetle managed to keep up with the unforgiving drivers of Puebla and it survived the ever-changing road surfaces like a champ. In all seriousness, I invested more time dodging other drivers, which in my eyes is the ultimate driving test. Given that the Beetle is manufactured in Mexico, the friendly Bug was socially compatible with the rest of its family members on the road.
There's no point in driving a convertible with a top that goes down in 9.5 seconds if you aren't going to put it to good use. The weather in Mexico was optimal for afternoon drive you better believe I had the top down the entire time.
Out on the highway I punched the gas pedal and felt like a million bucks thanks to the Beetle's lively turbo four. And although I normally dislike most modern convertibles, feeling the wind in my face at highway speeds was exhilarating. Rocking my favorite hat and a decent pair of Warby Parker sunglasses made the experience all the more enjoyable.
But as fun as the convertible proved to be, if I were closing in on a purchase of a 2019 Beetle, I'd go for the Final Edition SEL coupe in Stonewashed Blue Metallic with the premium package for $26,890.
The 2019 Volkswagen Beetle Final Edition has premium qualities and is still an economical choice. And although I believe Volkswagen could have done much more with this Final Edition, I forgive them because all in all, the Beetle is a fun car to drive and perfect for a weekend road trip to Baja California.
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2019 Volkswagen Beetle Final Edition SE Convertible Specifications
|ENGINE||2.0L turbocharged DOHC 16-valve I-4/174 hp @ 5,000 rpm,184 lb-ft @ 1,500 rpm|
|LAYOUT||2-door, 4-passenger, front-engine, FWD convertible|
|EPA MILEAGE||26/33 mpg (city/hwy)|
|L x W x H||168.8 x 71.9 x 58.6 in|