Bottom line: Anyone looking for a “me” small car with lots of personality, good performance, virtuous fuel economy, and excellent overall construction, safety and reliability, at a reasonable price, should consider the 2013 Volkswagen Beetle TDI.
Ride, acceleration and handling: Excellent marks in all three. “Excellent,” here, means it will please most drivers who want to have fun within the law on their way to wherever they are going.
Head-turning quotient: Sparkling attractiveness inside and out.
Body style/layout: The Beetle TDI is a compact, front-engine, front-wheel-drive, diesel-powered hatchback coupe (two side doors and a rear hatch). It is the latest addition to the Volkswagen Beetle line, which also includes gasoline-fueled hatchback coupes and convertibles.
Engine/transmissions: The car comes with a 2-liter, 16-valve turbocharged in-line four-cylinder, diesel engine that develops 140 horsepower and 236 foot-pounds of torque. The model driven for this column came with a standard six-speed manual transmission. A six-speed automatic transmission that also can be operated manually is available.
Capacities: Seats for four people. Cargo capacity is 15.4 cubic feet with the rear seats up and 29.9 cubic feet with those seats folded. The fuel tank holds 14.5 gallons of ultra-low-sulfur (15 parts per million) fuel. That fuel is widely available throughout the United States.
Mileage: I tired of waiting for the fuel gauge to move downward. I actually averaged 41 miles per gallon in highway driving.
Safety: Standard equipment includes four-wheel disc brakes (ventilated front, solid rear); four-wheel anti-lock brake protection; emergency braking assistance; electronic brake-force distribution; electronic stability and traction control; and side and head air bags.
Pricing: The 2013 Volkswagen Beetle TDI with six-speed manual transmission starts at $23,295, with a dealer’s invoice price of $22,363. Price as tested is $24,090, including a destination charge of $795. Dealer’s price as tested is $23,158.
Caution: Volkswagen, like BMW and other German automobile manufacturers, plays the option-pricing game quite aggressively. Figure out what you want, need and can afford in options before you enter the dealership.