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2013 VW TDI Beetle Like An Old Friend>

Who said fun can’t be fuel efficient? Volkswagens have always had a special place in my heart; I literally jumped at the chance to review the 2013 Beetle TDI when it was offered to me. There is something deeply emotional about Beetles; almost everyone I know has some kind of Beetle memory. The first car I remember my dad having was a 1966 Beetle. Red, with a manual transmission; then came the beige 1971 Beetle, with air conditioning and a semi-automatic transmission. How I loved to hide in the rear window well of those Beetles, making police car noises, much to my dad’s chagrin. The gas crisis of the early 1970s brought a used VW Type 3 fastback to our driveway. As an adult, I’ve owned a Passat wagon and even had the much maligned Phaeton as a company car. I felt right at home in the 2013 Beetle, it was just like an old friend had come to visit. And what a friend!
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To be honest, it’s been awhile since I’ve driven a diesel car. The Tomado Red 2013 Beetle TDI is nothing like the older Mercedes Benz or even other VW diesels I’ve experienced. The 2.0L 4-cylinder 140 horsepower turbocharged diesel engine was clean and quiet, the 236 lbs.-ft. of torque paired to a 6-speed manual transmission totally amped up the fun factor. And the best part? I averaged about 36 mpg in mixed driving around town and almost 43 mpg highway – even on rain slick roads. All you have to do is pay attention to the shift indicator on the dash – follow its lead and you can expect to best the 28/41 city/highway EPA fuel economy rating every time. Yeah, diesel is about twenty to thirty cents more a gallon, but the difference in fuel economy more than offsets the cost. And unlike an EV charging station, diesel is much easier to find in my neck of the woods.
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There’s no mistaking the 2013 Beetle for anything other than a Beetle. A bit bolder than the previous generation car, the updated 2013 model is more retro cool than cartoon cute. No more standard bud vase, instead you get 17-inch alloy wheels. It’s a bit wider than before (3.3 inches), about half an inch shorter and over 7-inches longer. My 6’4” passenger was very comfortable in the front passenger seat; my 6’ 0” rear seat passenger did not feel crammed in behind the driver’s seat. My only negative – it took a bit of playing around to get the driver’s seat height, steering wheel and seatback in a comfortable position; I was disappointed that the shoulder belt height was not adjustable. Getting in and out of the rear seats is easy, as is stowing cargo in the large trunk, thanks to 50/50 split-folding rear seats and well placed cargo hooks. The remote keyless doors and push button start/stop kept the key fob safely stashed in my purse all week, heated front seats were a welcome treat during yet another week of cold rainy days. The huge sunroof was great for enjoying those rare sunny moments.
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In addition to the easy-to-read dash gauges and detailed information center, three large gauges sit atop the center stack. Turbo boost gauge – check. Oil temp gauge – check. Lap timer – check. That last one came in handy for timing lights and measuring how long it took to play a pain inducing round of “Slug Bug”. Other big plus include an amazing sounding Fender® Premium Audio System, SiriusXM Satellite Radio, Navigation, Bluetooth, MP3 connectivity and two 12-volt outlets, one in the front row, one in the back row. Two glove boxes offered ample storage, along in-dash cubbies and with storage inside the armrest.
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On sale now, top of the line TDI model with Sunroof, Sound and Navigation has a starting MSRP of $26,990 including destination charges. You can add a 6-speed DSG dual-clutch automatic for $1,100 if three pedal cars aren’t your thing.

And that bud vase? Talk to your sales person, they can still get you one from the parts department.

Written by Eve Pickman and photos by Ingo Rautenberg