Here it is: 2019 is the swan song for the Beetle. There’s baggage that goes along with Volkswagen’s “new” Beetle soldiering along many years longer than it should have, but this Final Edition model caused me to reflect on how the reimaged version of this iconic shape injects a certain cheer to our crossover-clogged, lookalike automotive landscape. Some people do titter when they see the Beetle. Any Beetle. That’s a shame, because the automotive landscape was the better for having the New Beetle in it.
And go ahead and snicker with the generational aspersions, but when this handsome and maturely-styled convertible showed up and I saw its $28,190 bottom line, my first thought was, “That’s a great deal for a brand-new, full-power-top convertible.” And after driving the Final Edition for a week, it did nothing to sully that positive first impression. The only other convertible in the vicinity is Mazda’s 2019 MX-5, where you get 181 hp starting at $25,730 – but a manual top and just two seats, inflicting some extra limitations.
The Beetle’s cost is so reasonable partly because the variations are few. All 2019 Final Edition Beetles get VW’s EA888 2.0-L 4-cylinder running the so-called Budack-cycle (think a blend of Atkinson and Miller cycles). The only transmission is a 6-speed automatic. The B-cycle engine performs agreeably enough and is a fit for the Beetle Convertible’s persona, although nobody’s going to get too verklempt about 174 hp/184 lb-ft (130 kW/249 Nm) from two turbocharged liters. This engine’s primary shortcoming is low-rpm gruffness, particularly when cold.
The top operates with single-button simplicity and overall dynamics are in the relaxed-but-composed vein you might expect of a German convertible. The cabin is a treat in simplicity. A highlight is the bouncy yet durable-looking diamond-pattern seat upholstery and refreshing lack of button- or touchscreen-overkill. At this price you don’t get a surfeit of electro-features, and the Final Edition feels the better for it.
2019 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible 2.0T Final Edition SE
Base price: $27,295
As tested: $28,180
Highs: Agreeable performance and dynamics; upbeat interior; alluring price
Lows: Hard to take altogether seriously
The verdict: The affordable Sunday-convertible choice that isn’t named MX-5