What’s New for 2016:
- TDI Clean Diesel model on hiatus
- Remaining lineup includes coupe and convertible in 1.8T and R-Line series
- New trim level designations include S, SE, and SEL depending on model series
- Automatic transmission, automatic post-collision braking, automatic headlights, auto-dimming rearview mirror, touch-screen infotainment system with a USB port, and cloth seats are standard equipment for the new 1.8T S
- All SE and SEL trim levels include new VW Car-Net App Connect technology with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and MirrorLink systems
- Expanded Car-Net connected service packages, Car-Net Apple Watch app
- New Lighting option package installs bi-xenon headlights, LED running lights, and LED license plate lighting
- Four new exterior colors: Silk Blue, Habanero Orange, Dark Bronze, Sandstorm Yellow
- Free maintenance program is dropped for 2016
Returning for its 19th season since Volkswagen ignited a retro-design movement with the re-launched Bug back in 1998, the 2016 VW Beetle sees several changes designed to make it more affordable and appealing. Stretch your imagination a bit and you can see how the Beetle competes against models such as the Fiat 500, Honda Civic, Hyundai Veloster, Kia Forte, Mazda MX-5 Miata, Mini Hardtop, Scion FR-S, Scion tC, and Subaru BRZ.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
Volkswagen sells the Beetle as a 3-door hatchback disguised as a 2-door coupe, and as a 2-door convertible. The Beetle 1.8T is offered in S, SE, and SEL trim levels for 2016, while the Beetle R-Line comes in SE and SEL trim. The Beetle TDI is cancelled for the 2016 model year as Volkswagen tries to find a solution to its diesel emissions problem.
Effectively replacing the 1.8T Classic from last year, the new 1.8T S is equipped with a standard automatic transmission, cloth seats, touch-screen infotainment system with a 5-in. display screen and Car-Net connected services technology, USB port, rear spoiler, aluminum wheels, and more. An automatic post-collision braking system is now standard for all Beetles.
The Beetle 1.8T SE is equipped like last year’s base 1.8T model, adding a 6.3-in. touch-screen infotainment system display, Car-Net App Connect technology, and a reversing camera. Additional standard features include leatherette upholstery, heated front seats, heated side mirrors with turn signal indicators on the mirror caps, heated washer jet nozzles, ambient interior lighting, and 17-in. aluminum wheels. A manual gearbox is standard for the SE, with an automatic transmission optional.
The 1.8T SEL trim level includes an automatic transmission, panoramic sunroof, keyless access with push-button engine starting, navigation system, blind-spot warning system with rear cross-traffic alert, and 18-in. aluminum wheels.
Think of the Beetle R-Line as a curvy Golf GTI and you wouldn’t be terribly far off the mark. Its turbocharged 4-cylinder engine doesn’t make as much torque as the GTI, but otherwise the two are similar in terms of sporting intent. The R-Line has a sport suspension, fog lights, aluminum pedals, and 18-in. wheels. Subtle styling and interior changes set this version of the Beetle apart.
Choose the R-Line SEL trim for 19-in. aluminum wheels, leather seats, keyless access with push-button engine starting, panoramic sunroof, Fender premium audio system, reversing camera, and bi-xenon headlights.
Under the Hood
Every Beetle 1.8T is equipped with a turbocharged, 1.8-liter 4-cylinder engine generating 170 horsepower and 184 lb.-ft. of torque. A 5-speed manual gearbox is offered only for the SE trim level, while a 6-speed automatic transmission is standard for the S and SEL trim levels.
A turbocharged, 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine is standard for the Beetle R-Line, whipping up 210 horsepower and 207 lb.-ft. of torque. A 6-speed manual gearbox is standard, with a 6-speed Dual Clutch Gearbox (DSG, an automated manual transmission) available as an option.
According to the EPA, the Beetle 1.8T returns 25 mpg city, 34 mpg highway, and 28 mpg in combined driving, regardless of transmission or body style. The Beetle R-Line gets 23 mpg city, 31 mpg highway, and 26 mpg in combined driving, unless it is a hatchback equipped with the optional DSG transmission. In that case, city and highway ratings improve by 1 mpg each.
Safety Features and Ratings
For 2016, every Beetle is equipped with automatic post-collision braking, which is designed to bring the car to a stop as soon as is possible following a crash in order to limit secondary collisions. All Beetles also include Car-Net connected services technology with an automatic collision-notification system, though a subscription is required after the first 6 months of car ownership.
A reversing camera is standard for most versions of the Beetle, while the SEL is exclusively equipped with a blind-spot warning system and rear cross-traffic alert technology.
In federal government crash tests, the 2016 Beetle earns top marks, receiving an overall rating of 5 (out of 5) stars. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gives the Beetle a highest-possible “Good” rating in all crash-protection assessments except for the small overlap frontal-impact test, in which the car gets a “Marginal” rating. Note that these test results do not apply to the Beetle Convertible, which has not been tested.
The Beetle 1.8T S model’s standard 5-in. touch-screen infotainment system includes Car-Net connected services with a Security & Service package. Free for the first 6 months of ownership, the Security & Service package includes automatic crash notification, manual emergency calling, stolen-vehicle location assistance, remote vehicle access, last location parked, and vehicle health-report features. The Family Guardian system refers to the owner’s ability to set speed and boundary alerts, which is helpful when young drivers are using the Beetle.
For the Beetle 1.8T SE and R-Line SE, a new infotainment system debuts with a 6.3-in. touch-screen display. It supports Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and MirrorLink connected smartphone platforms via App Connect technology. This system also includes text-messaging support, satellite radio, HD Radio, and more.
The Beetle SEL uses the same infotainment system, adding navigation, natural voice-destination entry, predicted-destination technology, and Car-Net Guide & Inform service with real-time fuel prices, weather, and traffic information.