Volkswagen Beetle Review: A Close Look at the People’s Car

The Volkswagen Beetle has always been praised for being a car that is enjoyable to drive, whether it’s in a coupe or convertible body style. The car is known for its very long run, from its debut in 1938 until it was discontinued in 2018.

Volkswagen Beetle

Dubbed the “people’s car,” the Beetle was meant to be a cheap, functional, and simple car that could be mass-produced for the German populace. In this review, we cover what you need to know about Volkswagen, especially the latest 2018 model.

Overview of the Volkswagen Beetle

The Volkswagen Beetle was officially called the Volkswagen Type 1 and is an economy car that was manufactured by Volkswagen (VW), a German company. The car was a rear-engine subcompact model with a two-door body style that was meant for four or five occupants. Other names for the car included Volkswagen Super Beetle, Kafer, Carocha, Fusca, and Vocho.

Between 1938 and 2003, 21,529,464 units of the Beetle were built. The car was designed by Ferdinand Porsche and came in the body style of a 2-door salon or 2-door convertible. It had the layout of a rear engine, rear-wheel drive.

Throughout its run, the Beetle featured different engine options. These included the 1100 cc H4, 1200 cc H4, 1300 cc H4, 1500 cc H4, and 1600 cc H4, and the fuel type was petrol except the latter, which also used ethanol. As for the transmission, the options included a 4-speed manual transaxle, a 4-speed semi-automatic from 1961, and a 3-speed semi-automatic from 1967 to 1976.

The dimensions of the car were similar during its run. It came with a 94.5-inch wheelbase, while the length was 160.6 inches, and the width was 60.6 inches. The curb weight was also between 1,760 to 1,850 pounds. The Beetle was called the fourth most influential car in the 20th century at the 1999 Car of the Century Competition.

  • Design of the VW Beetle

The Beetle was designed with features like an air-cooled four-cylinder boxer engine located in the rear and rear-wheel drive. The two-door bodywork with a flat front windscreen accommodated four to five passengers with some cargo space under the front bonnet. The bodywork connected 18 bolts to the platform chassis of the car.

Design of VW Beetle

Drivers could enjoy independent suspension on all wheels because the front and rear suspension of the car came with torsion bars along the front stabilizer bar. The front suspension came with double longitudinal trailing arms, while the rear was a swing axle.
The unique shape of the Beetle is one design feature that endured, even until the 2019 model. Despite the addition of modern features, it continues to have its distinctive shape.


Other features that have been revised over the years include the mechanical drum brakes, direction indicators, split-window rear windows, and a non-synchronized gearbox.

The interior of the car also had a good design. The interior metal surfaces were painted, with adjustable front seats, optional swing-out rear windows, and a metal dash that included all the instruments in a single binnacle. Also, the engine, cylinder heads, and transmission of the Volkswagen Beetle were made of light alloy. There were over 78,000 incremental changes to the Beetle.

Volkswagen Beetle From 1938 to 2018

The Volkswagen Beetle has had a long run from 1938 to 2018, and it finally announced that the production of the car would end in 2019. The curvy car was known to be practical, affordable, and reliable, and its fans called it the “Bug.” The people’s car also means volks wagen in German, which increased the popularity of the car. Here is a timeline of the Beetle’s history:

  • 1938

The idea of a people’s car was first formulated by Adolf Hitler, the leader of Nazi Germany. He wanted a cheap, simple car that could be mass-produced for the road network in Germany. Due to the Spanish Civil War, most of the production resources in the country were focused on military vehicles. It was not until 1938 that Ferdinand Porsche’s design team finished the design.

It was called the Type 1 and came with a rear air-cooled engine. The car had some design elements from the Type 12, which is an earlier Porsche car that was built for Zundapp, and other Tatra models, which was a Czech automaker. In May 1938, Hitler laid the cornerstone of the factory, and he was given the first convertible.

  • 1946

After the end of the Second World War, the Volkswagen factory was put under British control. This also meant that the British were in charge of the Beetle. By the end of this year, over 10,000 units were manufactured. By 1956, one million Beetles had been sold.

  • 1959

This year, the Beetle was known for its iconic ad. Julian Koenig and Helmut Krone, who were under William Bernbach at Doyle Dane Bernbach, a New York advertising agency, made the ad. The “Think Small” ad featured the tiny Volkswagen Beetle in a large white space.
Then, the ad stated that “Maybe we got so big because we thought small.” It was called the best advertising campaign of the 20th century by Ad Age in 1999.

  • 1968

The Beetle name finally emerged, as before this, the car was only called Type 1. It came from the German word “der Kafer,” which also meant “beetle” and was used in brochures for the car. Disney also released a movie that year, which included Herbie the Love Bug. This was an anthropomorphic 1963 Beetle that paid homage to the Volkswagen Beetle. Fast-forward to 2018, and the cars used in the 1977 and 1982 movies featuring Herbie sold for record-breaking prices at an auction, up to $128,700.

  • 1971 to 1972

In 1971, VW released the Super Beetle, which was the premium model. It came with extra trunk space and a new front suspension. It also offered better handling and stability for drivers.

1971 Volkswagen Beetle Review

The year 1972 is when VW released the 15,007,034th Beetle from the assembly line. It beat the record of the best-selling car in the world, which was previously held by the Ford Model T for 40 years.

  • 1978 to 1979

In 1978, the last VW Type 1 rolled off a German assembly line. But production continued in the Mexican production facility. VW ended the production of the Beetle convertible with the Epilogue Edition in 1979, which was a convertible in triple black. It was also the final year for the Beetle in Canada and the US.

  • 1998

The New Beetle was released this year with major updates and a face-lift. VW gave the car a major update and recalled the Type 1 models that were still on the Volkswagen Golf platform. The New Beetle came with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that produced 115 horsepower. The interior of the car was unique for its small flower base.

  • 2003

The VW production facility in Puebla, Mexico, stopped making Type 1 vehicles. The VW New Beetle was still being made, as well as other models. There were 21,529,464 units of the VW Type 1 throughout its run.

  • 2018

This year, Volkswagen announced that the Beetle would be discontinued. There were two final convertible models, which were the Final Edition SE and the SEL. This was due to the declining sales and popularity of the Bug.

2018 Volkswagen Beetle

The 2018 Volkswagen Beetle was the third-generation model that seemed to continue its niche design. It was available in a two-door hatchback and convertible and added modern lines to the retro model. Drivers praised it for its retro design, great interior design, and comfortable riding experience. But it was pretty expensive, and there was no manual transmission option.

2018 Volkswagen Beetle

In 2018, Volkswagen added some updates to the Beetle. It replaced the two available engines with a single option that offered great fuel efficiency. It also added a new trim level called Coast, which offered a Deep Sea Teale exterior color, houndstooth cloth upholstery in the interior, and a dashboard that looked like surfboard wood.

VW also introduced the Style & Comfort package, which came with an upgraded infotainment system, automatic headlamps, heated front seats with lumbar adjustment, rain-sensing wipers, and 17-inch alloy wheels.

  • Engine and Performance

The 2018 Beetle Dune was powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four engine, which offered 174 horsepower. The previous model year offered a standard 1.8-liter turbo engine and an optional R-Line 2.0-liter turbo engine. The 2018 model also came with a six-speed automatic transmission, which did not appeal to some traditional Beetle fans.

The car offered great body control, with a soft and comfortable chassis when driving. The steering wheel was precise, and the suspension was soft and well-damped. The car came with 6.3 inches of ground clearance and some off-road features.

  • Interior Design

The 2018 model offers a spacious interior, so the rear seats will be comfortable for adults. The front seats will also be roomy enough for all kinds of adults. In the front, passengers get access to a retro dash with a big speedometer and gloveboxes.

The interior is also well-outfitted in the base model. If you pay for the higher trims, you get features like dual-zone climate control, heated seats, and upgraded upholstery. The trunk space offered 15 cubic feet, which is expected for a small car, but you won’t find spaces in the cabin for storage.

  • Infotainment Features

The base Beetle model came with a 5-inch touchscreen on the infotainment system. There is also Bluetooth, auxiliary input, a USB port, and an eight-speaker stereo with a CD player.
The more expensive trims and packages offer better features like a 6.3-inch touchscreen with in-dash navigation, a Fender audio system, satellite radio, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and a VW Car-Net service.

2019 Volkswagen Beetle

The 2019 Volkswagen Beetle was the last edition and was offered as a coupe or a convertible. The Volkswagen Beetle turbo four engine, which was fun to drive, came with a six-speed automatic and front-wheel drive, offering a performance of 174 hp. It also has a higher ground clearance and some off-roading styling features.

Details of 2019 Volkswagen Beetle

There are some modern options, like blind-spot monitoring and a touchscreen infotainment system. But it does not leave its retro and old-school look behind, which still adds a charming touch to the vehicle.

Decline of the Beetle and the End of Production

From the mid-60s, the Beetle was facing stiff competition from other global carmakers. Japanese cars like the Toyota Corolla and Datsun 510 attracted rapidly-growing sales in North America with their refined rear-wheel-drive, front-engine, water-cooled small cars. Ford was also dominating the market.

Volkswagen also faced competition from cars and new designs like the Fiat 127 and Renault 5. Due to this, VW decided to stop over-reliance on a single model, which was Type 1, as it was becoming less popular. From the 60s to the 70s, VW released Type 3, Type 4, and K70. They also designed their popular model, the Golf, with Giorgetto Giugiaro.

Although over 21 million Type 1 units had been produced around the world by 2002, the annual production of the car dropped to 30,000 in 2003. This was a far cry from the 1.3 million it reached in 1971. Due to decreasing demand, VW announced the end of the production of the original Type 1 Beetle.

The last Beetle model was made in 2019 in the Mexican factory. Even though Volkswagen released different versions of the hit car, including one in 2012, it did not do so well in the American market. Most drivers were leaning towards SUVs and inexpensive compact cars.

Frequently Asked Questions

– What Is the Most Expensive Volkswagen Beetle Ever?

The most expensive Volkswagen Beetle ever was the model used for the movie Herbie the Love Bug, and it sold for $212,500. Despite the car being in poor condition and the holes cut in the car for the movie, it still had a high price.

– What Is the Volkswagen Beetle Known For?

The Volkswagen Beetle is known for being one of the first rear-engine cars from the Bass Era. It is also known as the most-manufactured and longest-running car of a single platform ever made, with 21,529,464 units produced in 80 years.

– Are Volkswagen Beetle Vehicles Fast?

Volkswagen Beetle vehicles are fast, but it depends on the model that you buy. The VW Beetle LSR offers a top speed of 205 miles per hour. The original Type 1 had a maximum speed of 62 miles per hour with its 18.6 kW or 25 hp engine.

How Does the Performance of the Volkswagen Beetle Compare to the 1968 Dodge Charger?

The powerful muscle car unveiled in 1968, the Dodge Charger, is known for its impressive performance and aggressive styling. On the other hand, the Volkswagen Beetle, while beloved for its iconic design, doesn’t quite match up in terms of power. The Charger’s V8 engine and enhanced handling give it an edge, delivering a thrilling driving experience that the Beetle simply can’t replicate. However, both cars hold their own place in automotive history for different reasons.

Why Is the Volkswagen Beetle Considered the “People’s Car”?

The Volkswagen Beetle earned the title “People’s Car” due to its affordability, practicality, and simplicity. Since its introduction in the 1930s, it became a symbol of accessible mobility for the masses. Unlike the sleek and flashy nsx generations: sporty coupe overview, the Beetle’s charm lay in its compactness, reliability, and timeless design, making it a favorite among people from various backgrounds.


The Volkswagen Beetle is one of the most impressive cars to be released globally, so it’s no wonder it had a very long run.

Here’s a summary of our review of this car:

  • Volkswagen Beetle is a compact car and economy car that had a long run from 1938 to 2018/19, when it was finally discontinued.
  • The car is dubbed the “people’s car” and later “the Bug,” but the original version was originally called Type 1.
  • It was commissioned by Hitler, the leader of Germany, and Ferdinand Porsche to be an affordable car for daily commuting.
  • The Beetle was discontinued due to declining sales, competition from other car brands, and the popularity of SUVs in North America over small cars.
  • The 2019 Beetle was the last to be produced at Volkswagen’s production facility in Mexico before it was finally discontinued.

If you’re thinking of owning the Beetle, you can look out for the 2017-2019 models, which come with more modern features and elements. For classic car lovers, you can purchase older Beetles at auctions or marketplaces.

5/5 - (15 votes)
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