2013 Volkswagen Beetle Turbo Review

More masculine Beetle gets a testosterone boost

2013 Volkswagen Beetle Turbo Review

Replacing the previous Volkswagen Beetle with its cute and bubbly shape, the new model introduced in 2012 is considerably more gender-neutral. Though getting over the car’s modern era stereotype will take more than a lower and wider stance.


1. Compared to the previous generation Beetle, the new model is 3.3-inches wider, 7.4-inches longer and half an inch lower.

2. Both Turbo and TDI models get additional gauges mounted on the dash that show oil temperature gauge, a clock with stopwatch function and a boost pressure gauge.

3. Turbo models get 200 hp and 207 lb-ft of torque with an EPA rated 21 mpg city and 30 mpg highway.

4. In addition to upgraded brakes and VW’s XDS electronic limited slip differential, Turbo models get a fully independent rear suspension.

5. Turbo models start at $23,395.

How much more? A turbocharger, more aggressive bodywork and some large 18-inch wheels are certainly a good start.


Forget the base models with their 2.5-liter inline 5-cylinder engine that puts out a decent 170 horsepower and 177 lb-ft of torque. Those are fine for comparison to other economy cars, with their EPA mileage estimates of 22 mpg city and 31 mpg highway, and their 8-second time to 60 mph.

The testosterone laden Turbo, with a 2.0-liter direct-injected, intercooled 4-cylinder is the only way to fly. It puts out 200 ponies and 207 lb-ft of torque at a very low 1700 rpm, and holds a flat torque curve right up the tach dial. And it loves to rev easily when you are driving in Johnny Racer mode. Zero to 60 times go down to mid 6 second range, but it feels even quicker. And you’ll still get 21 mpg city and 30 mpg highway. 

Power runs through a slick shifting 6-speed manual transmission, (a 6-speed DSG automatic is an option) with a light clutch effort, which makes it fun and easy to drive smoothly. The steering is responsive and tightens up with more turning input. The large vented front disc brakes and solid rear discs with sporty red calipers do a fine job of handling the braking chores and are a noticeable upgrade from lesser Beetles.


2013-VW-Beetle-Turbo-sideIn addition to driving the Turbo on the street, we had a chance to do a lap on Road America’s 4.2-mile circuit, and play a little bit with it on an autocross course. Both venues showed off the Turbo Beetle’s nimble handling, especially the autocross course.

Apart from upgraded anti-roll bars front and back, a major reason for the Turbo model’s added capability is the entirely new suspension setup. While base models ride on a torsion beam setup the Turbo gains the same independent arrangement as cars like the Jetta GLI or GTI.

Body roll is kept in check and the Beetle tracks nicely through turns while handling side-to-side transitions capably. Still, it’s no GTI.

Volkswagen’s XDS electronic limited slip differential system monitors the information from the wheel sensors and detects any slippage, adding brake to slow the inside wheel in a corner. The system was most noticeable on the autocross course, less because we could feel it working and more because the Beetle Turbo always had plenty of grip coming out of a corner, despite all the heavy-handed steering and lead-footed acceleration.





VW engineers definitely wanted to butch up the interior cabin of the Beetle. As a result the cuddly flower vase is gone in favor of a dash top tray for holding cell phones, iPod or other essential items. The leather wrapped, flat bottom steering wheel, with phone, radio and info screen controls, looks racy. Carbon fiber looking trim adds to that look, as does a dash top three-dial gauge package showing oil temp, a lap timer and a boost gauge.  Finishing off the theme is a set of brushed aluminum pedals with grippy rubber inserts.

The driver’s gauges are a no-nonsense three-dial affair with a large round speedo with an info screen, surrounded by a round tach and gas gauge. The center stack is clean with easy to use controls for the radio and HVAC. A nice storage cubby sits at the bottom of the stack with a 12-V outlet for charging your electronics.

The seats are a bit narrow, both at the seat bottom and back, but nicely bolstered, and the seat fabric is handsome. Two rear seat passengers still have plenty of headroom despite the redesigned roofline. Legroom is decent, too. And there is also a 12-V outlet so rear seat occupants can play with their toys as well. Getting into the rear seats is made easier because one seatback latch will push the back of the seat forward, and also moves the whole seat forward on its tracks to offer a wide opening to get through. The trunk is larger than you’d expect, and the rear seats fold forward to open up more cargo room.


All is not great with the Beetle’s interior, however. There is way too much hard plastic on door sills and dash. Door storage is just an elastic strap for a map or two, and there is no center console for storage, or to rest one’s elbow.



Our test car started at $23,395, with the only option being the larger 19-inch wheels and Bi-Xenon headlights for $1,000, so with destination charges the bottom line is $25,165.  So for just over 25 large you get a great handling, fun to drive, sporty car with excellent power to make that daily commute a lot more interesting, and Sunday drives can turn into a sporting event. And you’ll get good gas mileage when you drive more responsibly.

A manly machine? Perhaps. It’s safer to say you no longer have to feel ashamed of driving your wife’s car when yours is in the shop.

  • Peter_705

    Pedro Loewen
    102 398 Park St
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  • Peter_705hotmail.com

    Petdro Loewen
    102 398 Park St
    winkler MB
    R6W 0C2
    2013 Kia Oprinna SXL
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  • Larry Dickman

    Sorry VW, still a chick car

  • Kosmo

    Love the review – hate the car. Still feel like it’s a vasectomy on wheels. 

  • you are a bullshit

  • TransWarpDrive

    “Chick car?” Hardly! Country singer Lyle Lovett owned a New Beetle. As did rocker Alice Cooper, actor Larry Hagman, and pro wrestler Hulk Hogan. Are you going to tell any of those guys they drove a “chick car?” I think not!
    The only reason I traded my ’98 New Beetle in for an ’05 Passat was because the Bug was falling apart after only 79,000 miles! Otherwise, I’d still be driving it today – proudly! (And yes; I’m a guy.)
    That being said, I will admit that I like the redesigned Bug for 2013. Not because it looks more “masculine” than its predecessor, but because it more closely resembles the original air-cooled, rear-engined Beetle – especially in profile.

  • Peter_
  • Does the 13 model year has a fix to the 12’s window issues? just curious

  • Guest

     I am sorry that a vehicle challenges your masculinity, perhaps you should just embrace the closet homosexuality and be yourself.

  • VW Lover

    Volkswagen has figured out the window issue in the 2012 models, they have technicians that can fix it now.

  • The large vented front disc brakes and solid rear
    discs with sporty red calipers do a fine job of handling the braking
    chores and are a noticeable upgrade from lesser Beetles. 


  • Spencerspore

    oh yeah. DEFINITLEY getting one for my next car

  • Trebla

    Had my Beetle GT for 6 months now and think it is great. Quality of workmanship/design excellent.
    Car is fitted with all available extras, Fender Sound, leather interior, 510 Nav. system etc. A quantum improvement over the previous “New” Beetle. Performance more than ample for our highways and cities and Eco conscious world. WELL DONE Volkswagen.

  • Jhogan316

    This is not a chick car !

  • Ollygt

    And if you live in Australia you can only get one with the Polo GTi twincharge engine at the moment.  Boo VW boo, I want a proper manual transmission option and not the engine with the durability and longevity question mark over it.

  • Pat Dooley

    I just got the 2.0T DSG. I had been a Honda Accord leaser for 20 years, but swore off Honda when the last one failed in traffic at 900 miles and Honda could care less about my expenses. Way to go Honda. Bye bye, forever.

    I wanted to buy the 6-speed manual Beetle but my wife thought she’d be happier with an auto. She drives stick but she rarely shifts out of 3rd gear, which sort of drives me crazy, so I was happy she wanted  auto this go around. She doesn’t drive much but she is very happy.
    I am liking this car. Stay in “D” and it is a smooth and economical commuter. Choose “S” (sports mode) and you have instant oomph. When I’m merging onto a freeway, I switch to “S”. It doesn’t mean I want to go fast; it just gives me the option to merge cleanly. When I’m settled in my lane, I go back to “D”.

    I’ve also played with the Tiptronic option but the only real use I have found is to stick it in 1st gear while ascending our convoluted parking building. It’s fun to emulate a stick but it is not the same as driving stick.

    The car looks small but it drives bigger. That’s not surprising because it checks in at 3100lb.VW use their 2,0T engine in the Beetle, Golf GTI, Passat CC, and up into the Audi Range. It is a really nice power-plant, and gives the Beetle a very sporty feel. I took one of my friends for a spin and she just loved the way it took off when you planted your foot.Brakes are good. Stupid dog ran out in front of me and I had to apply all anchors at 60mph, and pulled up well short of the dog.If you want a sporty two-door hatchback, this is the car to check out.