The Long Goodbye Begins; Retro-themed Beetle Goes to The Beach
The news conjures up a few Beatles songs—The Long & Winding Road, Hello Goodbye; we could go on. As we were wrapping up our test of the 2018 Volkswagen Beetle, VW announced that production was coming to an end next year, so this became a little more of a retrospective.
Three generations over nearly seven decades, more than 23 million units comes down to this. For 2018 the Beetle comes as a convertible or a coupe with trim lines of S, SE, Dune and Coast–the last one was our test model. The design is immediately recognizable as there is nothing on the road even remotely having the same silhouette. Of course, it has been seriously updated since the first Beetles were released in 1939. In 1998 the engine migrated from the rear to the front, and it went from rear-wheel to front-wheel drive. With more than 23 million Beetles produced, there is a probability that a good number of the world’s population has driven or rode in one.
All 2018 Beetles are powered by what Volkswagen says is its “most advanced engine ever” the EA888 2.0-liter engine. Both turbocharged and intercooled, the inline-four cylinder’s peak 174 horsepower kicks-in at 4,400 rpm. Sit back and let the slick-shifting six-speed automatic transmission do its thing, or there is the option to go through the gears manually with the Tiptronic feature. Maximum 184 pound-feet of torque is reached between 1,600 and 3,940 rpm, with a 6,000 rpm redline. Zero-to-60 times were a respectable 7.2 seconds and 5.2 seconds from 50-70 mph. To give fair warning for those that think the Coast is a push-over, Volkswagen has placed a chrome “Turbo” badge on the rear hatch.
Fuel economy estimates by the EPA are 26 city/33 highway/29 combined. In 291 miles of driving throughout Southern California, we averaged 30.1 mpg, but in two 100-mile highway runs with the cruise control set at 65 mph, we averaged an impressive 38 mpg. So, if you drive sanely the Beetle Coast could reasonably get you 500 miles down the road before needing to refill the 14.5-gallon fuel tank.
Fuel economy numbers reported by Clean Fleet Report are non-scientific and represent the reviewer’s driving experience. If you live in cold weather, high in the mountains, spend time in the city or stuck in rush hour traffic, then your numbers may differ.
Driving Experience: On the Road
The 2018 Coast delivers a surefooted driving experience, in part from the engineered reinforcements from 2015 that increased body stiffness by 20-percent over the previous Beetle. The body stiffness improvements are only part of the ride and handling equation. Clean Fleet Report’s Coast had 17-inch aluminum-alloy wheels and 215/55 Hankook Kinergy GT all-season tires, which Hankook says are “designed to provide a quiet and comfortable driving experience.” The handling was precise with the speed-variable, electric-mechanical power assist steering, thankfully not programmed to take away the fun of driving. The strut-type front suspension with coil springs and the multi-link, coil springs and anti-roll bar on the rear gave a smooth and stable ride. The 3,020-pound Coast initially felt heavy, but not in a bad way as highway cruising was solid and confident with no wind buffeting from passing trucks.
Stops were straight and true with the Coast’s standard four-wheel anti-lock braking system, power-assisted front vented and rear solid discs, electronic brake pressure distribution and electronic stability control.
Driving Experience: Interior
The 2018 Volkswagen Beetle Coast is meant to transport you to the beach with cool houndstooth-patterned cloth seats, doorsill scuff plates and all-weather rubber floor mats, which are perfect for collecting sand. The dash ties in classic Woody styling with a tasteful wood-grained dash that houses the simple gauge layout. The speedometer is centered, with the tachometer on the left and fuel/oil gauges on the right. The proper amount of chrome pieces can be found on the gearshift lever, steering wheel and the Kaeferfach, or the Beetle Bin, which is a second glove box with a lid that flips up while the conventional glove box has a downward opening lid. These are only two of several bins, storage areas and cup holders located throughout the cabin.
The dash gauges with a black background and white lettering were easy to read, as was the driver information center located in the speedometer. The shifter for the six-speed automatic was situated perfectly in the center console, especially if you wanted to manually go through the gears. The heat, air conditioning and infotainment controls were all within easy reach.
The Coast interior is the color Pepita, or pumpkin, and black. The manually adjustable, including lumbar, heated front seats were firm, but overall comfortable. The armrest adjusted for height, which is a nice touch. There is plenty of head and legroom up front, even for 6’+ drivers and passengers. Rear headroom is best for your 5’9” and under passengers while the legroom is tight when the front seats are in a normal position. Since the Coast is a front engine car, there is a trunk, providing ample space with the rear seat upright. But with the pass-through door open, or the 50/50 split rear seats laid flat, this cool car is perfect for two on a long weekend road trip.
Taking center stage of the dash is the 6.3-inch color touchscreen that handles the rear view camera and the navigation system. While modern touchscreen technology is nice, Clean Fleet Report is a big fan of knobs and switches for the radio and climate controls. VW does a nice job of making it easy to operate the radio and single zone HVAC system with the turn of a few knobs. The simple dash design adds to convenience features such as a tilt and telescoping steering column, leather-covered multi-function steering wheel, and leather-trimmed shift and emergency brake handles.
The eight-speaker audio system delivers deep, full crisp tones for the AM/FM radio and CD player, with MP3 playback and App Connect. Also part of the infotainment system is SiriusXM (90-day trial period), Bluetooth for telephone and streaming music, and VW’s Media Device Interface, or MDI, which includes a SD card slot and a USB port.
Other conveniences are power windows with one-touch operation and pinch protection, keyless access, push button start/stop, cruise control, power adjustable and manual folding heated exterior mirrors, variable intermittent front windshield wipers, multi-function car analytics and trip computer display. Standard on all Beetle trim levels is Volkswagen’s CarNet connected car technology that provides a seamless link between the car and an iPhone, Android smartphone or computer. Or, as Volkswagen says, it “keeps you connected with your car even when you’re apart.”
Driving Experience: Exterior
A Beetle is a Beetle. No need to go much deeper, except to say if you don’t get a warm-and-fuzzy feeling when looking at one, then that is the tell you have never owned one.
The Coast is a new, special model for 2018. Clean Fleet Report’s had the Heritage, retro-looking black wheels and chrome dog-dish hubcaps with chrome wheel rings It was painted in an eye-catching Silk Blue Metallic. The tires looked extra large in the wheel wells, giving the Coast a very settled and dominant look. There are tasteful chrome accents on the front and rear fascia and a spoiler on the rear hatch. The large, power sunroof was a nice feature and, when open, did not add wind noise when driving on the highway.
One of the niftiest and clever designs on the Beetle is the dual functioning rear VW badge. First, it is the release handle for the rear hatch, and second it is where VW has hidden the rear view camera. When placing the Beetle into reverse there is soft motor sound of the badge rotating up to expose the camera.
Driver Assistance and Safety
All 2018 Volkswagen Beetles come with six airbags, electronic stability control, blind sport monitor, a tire pressure monitoring system and an Intelligent Crash Response System that turns off the fuel pump, unlocks the doors and switches on the hazard lights in case of an accident.
In the case of an accident, the brakes are automatically applied by the Automatic Post-collision Braking System so the car does not continue moving, resulting in a secondary accident. This technology shows its value so an injured driver is not injured further by their car striking another object.
Pricing and Warranties
Clean Fleet Report’s 2018 VW Beetle Coast had a MSRP of $23,120, which did not include the $850 destination charge.
All 2018 Volkswagen Beetles come with these warranties:
- New Vehicle–Six years/72,000 miles
- Roadside Assistance–Three months/36,000 miles
- Corrosion Perforation–Seven years/100,000 miles
Observations: 2018 Volkswagen Beetle Coast
The 2018 Volkswagen Beetle Coast is as fun to drive as it looks. It is peppy, sips fuel, hauls most of your stuff with the rear seat folded flat, has excellent visibility for the driver, and looks cool in the process. Oh, and don’t forget the vaunted German fit-and-finish with a tight overall feeling, whether road trip cruising or cornering. An easy summation is the Beetle Coast is easy and a kick to drive.
The list of standard equipment and features on the 2018 Coast make it a good value and more than competitive when considering a small car purchase. Make sure to take a look at the new People First Warranty that offers reassurance that Volkswagen stands behind its vehicles.
Take the time to add the Beetle Coast to your consideration list as it is one of the best designed and built cars available at reasonable price.
Whatever you end up buying, enjoy your new car and as always, Happy Driving!
Some personal VW history—
My first was a 1958 Beetle that I drove for two years. This included daily driving around what became Silicon Valley and several trips a week to Santa Cruz. It also made at least two Baja surf trips.
I have owned seven Beetles over the years: 58, 64, 66, 67 (2), 68 and a 69. Plus my 1970 Westfalia pop-top bus that was driven from British Columbia to Mexico and was with me for my two years at Humboldt State. –John Faulkner
Related Stories You Might Enjoy—Our Clean Fleet Report Beetle Memory Lane
Road Test: 2017 Volkswagen Beetle Dune Convertible
Clean Fleet Report is loaned free test vehicles from automakers to evaluate, typically for a week at a time. Our road tests are based on this one-week drive of a new vehicle. Because of this we don’t address issues such as long-term reliability or total cost of ownership. In addition, we are often invited to manufacturer events highlighting new vehicles or technology. As part of these events we may be offered free transportation, lodging or meals. We do our best to present our unvarnished evaluations of vehicles and news irrespective of these inducements.
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