It seems we have come to the end of an era once again as Volkswagen has announced that the Beetle will no longer be produced after the end of 2019, hence the addition of “Final Edition” to the name of our test ride.
In our book, the Beetle has to be the most iconic, longest running and most produced vehicle on the same platform in history. And its history goes way back to 1938 when the idea was born and the first Bugs were manufactured for the Nazi elite in Germany.
The Volkswagen name actually came from the vision of making “The Peoples Car” or one that everyone could afford. Back in Germany in the 1930s about 1 in 50 families owned a vehicle, yet here in the U.S. that number was at 46% of families owning a vehicle — with the Model T Ford being produced for that very reason.
Originally the Beetle was designed to be able to carry two adults and three children and get at least 32 mpg. That first engine produced only 25 horsepower, a far cry from the 174 horsepower of today’s final Beetle.
After a long history that included the Beetle becoming one of the most popular vehicles in America between 1960 and 1965, other manufactures started to introduce competition like the Honda Civic and Ford Pinto and buyers started switching to the more modern vehicles.
During its long history, manufacturing factories that originally started in Germany were later moved to Brazil and Mexico with the final Beetle coming off the line in July 2003 as a 2004 model. That made 21,529,464 Beetles produced since its epic pre-World War II beginnings, quite a feat for anything to be made in those numbers and for that long.
This however was not to be the end of the Beetle, as Volkswagen had introduced what they called Concept One at the North American Auto Show in 1994. This was a retro-themed vehicle based on the design of the original. Yet it would still be four years until a new version of the Beetle was back in the U.S. in 1998.
In 2010, there was again a “Final Edition” brought to the market, yet a new sleeker version was back for the 2011 model year. Will this be the real end of the Beetle or will public opinion weigh in with VW bringing back a fourth new Beetle? Time will tell with this iconic vehicle.
This year’s “Final Edition” is really a great ride and with the now turbocharged engine is more than just a little fun to drive. Being a smaller two-door vehicle, it scoots around quite nicely, it even has good manners on the freeway, accelerating quickly to 60 mph.
Our son Landon was over on the Sunday of our test drive and we took him and his wife out for a ride with him fitting his 6-foot-3 frame easily into the front seat of the Beetle. He was very impressed with the amount of room in the interior and even more so with the room in the trunk. We would have to think that the modern Beetle would fit two adults and two kids very comfortably.
He did point out that once the car seats were in, getting the kids in and out would pose more of challenge with just the two doors. Boy, how times have changed since the original when the most important thing was to be able to stuff three kids in the back!
The SE version was not even the top trim level, yet we were very impressed with the additions that came standard inside. The seats were made of a rhombus cloth quilted surface with leatherette inserts on the sides that would help with the wear and tear on the cloth seats.
They were extremely comfortable. Landon’s wife, Michelle, commented on how much she liked the look and enjoyed sitting in the Beetle. The seats were also heated. It was something we thought maybe we would not have to use but even in late April the temperatures took a dip and we got to enjoy that option.
The Dashpad also matched the inside of the seats and looked to be made of metal and gave the interior a very upscale look. The infotainment system came with a 6.3-inch touchscreen that controlled the eight-speaker sound system along with our phones through a Bluetooth connection. The system was also capable of connecting to two smartphones simultaneously.
VW Car-Net was also a standard feature that with a monthly charge would allow the owner to control many features through a smartphone like unlocking the doors, checking to see if the sun roof is open and all the special teen alert options like speed alert and boundary alert checking to keep other drivers within those predetermined limits.
Other great features were the one-touch entry to the locked Beetle and pushbutton start, both options we would not have expected at the price point. The VW just kept impressing us during the week. The SE even came with a sunroof, which really made the small vehicle into a convertible for all intents and purposes.
The SE Final Edition also comes with 17-inch unique wheels, rain-sensing windshield wipers, rear cross-path detection and blind-spot monitoring. Who would have thought as the Beetle ages it just gets better and better, just like us!
This new third “Final Edition” is a great performer and would make an excellent everyday driver, not to mention how great it looks in the driveway. It must be the fact that it is part of Americana now and just seems right sitting on the roadway.
Who knows? Maybe our separation from this part of history will be short lived, it hasn’t lasted in the past.
Base Price: $23,045
Price as Driven: $23,045