2019 VW Beetle Convertible 2.0T Final Edition SEL – Review by Ben Lewis

Sometimes when cars go away, we don’t mourn their passing. Usually, those cars are nothing special, having outlived their usefulness, or are being replaced with something much better. But the VW Beetle has always been more than that.

So, we’re truly sad to see this cheerful little vehicle go away. Who doesn’t need to smile today?

Auf Wiedersehen, Baby…

The appropriately named Final Edition is sending the Beetle off in a fine way. VW has a habit of making cool last models, and this one is no exception. We were lucky enough to score the Convertible version – it just adds to the good vibes Der Beetle has always served up.

The look is familiar – the current model has been with us since 2012, and we’ve always liked it. The coupes always had a bit of Porsche 911 to them, and the look is muscular and purposeful. The convertibles have always had a more relaxed vibe to them, but they still look great. Honestly, our tester was extremely photogenic – there wasn’t a pic where it didn’t look great.

Final Edition models feature standard chrome treatments in addition to body-color side mirrors while Final Edition SEL models are equipped with Bi-Xenon headlights with LED Daytime Running Lights (DRLs), LED taillights, and fog lights. Spotters Guide: All Final Edition models replace the typical “Turbo” badge on the tailgate with a “Beetle” badge.

With three generations and nearly seven decades of production, VW has a deep well to draw inspiration from, including the final edition of the first-generation Beetle made in Mexico.

The 2003 Última Edición (last edition) models were only available in two colors—beige and light blue. Today’s Final Edition models will feature two unique colors: Safari Uni—a reinvention of Harvest Moon Beige, a color from the New Beetle—and Stonewashed Blue, a nod to the 1970 Jeans Bug and most recently seen on the 2016 Beetle Denim. Final Edition models are also available in Pure White, Deep Black Pearl, and Platinum Grey.

Our Convertible Final Edition SEL tester was in the strangely named Safari Uni – Uni is a sea urchin in Japanese. An urchin on Safari? Hmmmm. Nonetheless, it is a very attractive color, looking a little more beige and a little less lemony than the photos suggest. It also contrasts nicely with the black top. Models in every exterior color except Safari Uni are available with a unique Brown soft top.

Being an SEL, our tester also enjoyed unique 18” alloy wheels with white spokes that really pop. For those playing at home, the design is reminiscent of the Última Edición’s body-colored steel wheels fitted with chrome hubcaps and whitewall tires. Glad they stayed away from the whitewalls…

Stunning Sitzplatz

As attractive as the outside is, the interior has the major wow factor. While the basic design is unchanged – no problem, we’ve always loved the Bug’s slightly quirky take – the style, execution and materials make it a standout.

The dashpad, which has worn a number of colors in special models, is now treated to the same Safari Uni color. A nice contrast on other exterior colors, it tied in perfectly with our Uni exterior. And it contrasted nicely with the black diamond-stitched leather seats. (Other exterior colors offer a two-tone Pepper Beige /Black seats, if you prefer). Hey a Bentley doesn’t have anything on our Beetle! Add in the stainless pedals and glass black interior trim, and the Final Edition looks like a million bucks.

The rest of the interior is familiar. Spacious and comfortable front seats. Tiny rear seats. A nice fat leather-wrapped steering wheel. An oval instrument nacelle holding an oversize Speedometer –very Beetle – and smaller tach and supplemental gauges.

In the center is the Discover Media info-tainment system, which looks modern and crisp, and a touchscreen that looks surprisingly larger than the 6.3 inches it is. You get all the goodies, including Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth, VW’s Car-Net smartphone integration and navigation. With the top down, convertibles can get loud, so we were also pleased to have the thumping 400-watt, Fender Premium Audio system on board.

Still Fahrvergnugen!

Remember that ad campaign? While the VW hardcore enthusiasts should still aim for the GTI, The Beetle Convertible is plenty fun to drive – in a more laid-back kind of way.

Under the hood is the turbo 2.0-liter, 4-cylinder that replaced the 1.8-liter last year. Putting out an ok 174 horsepower you can see it’s not built as a performance engine. The 184 lb-ft of torque comes in at just 1,500 rpm, and is feed through a 6-speed automatic, that gives a nice perky pull away from stoplights, but seems to run out of breath and interest once you’re at freeway speeds.

We found little improvement in putting our Beetle into Sport mode, or hand-shifting the transmission, so we just left it to its own designs, and it did a fine job. And that job is quiet, effortless cruising and wafting around town. The EPA says 29 mpg combined, and we came close with 27 mpg in our time with the Beetle, which is quite good.

The ride is supple and well controlled, and even large bumps and dips are handled smoothly – no small feat with such a large open area. Think excellent engineering and a solid platform. The steering has the typical VW feel; light, direct and precise. And those large 18-inch wheels give plenty of grip.

It all makes sense when you drop the top, which happens quickly at the touch of button. You can even do it a low rolling speeds so you won’t completely anger traffic behind you. The open sky, fresh breezes, and little or no wind turbulence make this one of the best – and quietest – top-down cruisers on the market. All the better to enjoy that excellent Fender premium audio system!

The large convertible top does hinder visibility whether up or down, but VW brings tech to the rescue, with a nice rearview monitor – the camera pops out of the VW badge on the rear deck, a great party trick to impress your friends – as well as standard Blind Spot Warning and Rear Cross traffic alert on SE models. Our SEL added to that with standard front and rear Park Distance Control.

A friend has an earlier Turbo Convertible and was clearly envious of the driver assistance technology. She’s owned hers for 5 years and loves it dearly – Beetles create those kinds of relationships.

 A big visit to Der Deutsche Bank?

Nein! Er, no. The Beetle Convertible strikes as quite reasonably priced. The S model starts at $25,995 and you get goodies like 16-inch alloys, heated seats, power top, 2.0-liter Turbo motor, 6-speed automatic transmission, cruise control, blind spot warning, rear traffic alert, and more.

We’d probably step up at least to the Final Edition SE, which starts at $27,295. You get some unique color choices, special 17-inch alloy wheels, and cool interior upgrades, including cloth and leatherette rhombus pattern seats, the upgraded 6.3-inch touchscreen infotainment system, ambient interior lighting and dual-zone climate control. It’s even $1,100 less than the standard SE convertible which starts at $28,395. A no brainer.

We’re kind of partial to our Final Edition SEL tester, though. Starting at $29,995, you also add those stunning 18-inch alloy wheels, diamond-stitched leather seats, upgraded info-tainment with navigation and the Fender Premium audio system. It’s loaded, and our tester had no other options. Add in $895 for destination, and we came in at $30,890. Here’s a shocker – it’s even less than the Beetle Dune Convertible we tested in 2017!

Finding competition is not easy. The closest might be the Mini Cooper S, comparably equipped a pricey $39,750. We went easy building our BMW 228i Convertible, and still came in at $46,200. An Audi A3 was a little easier to swallow at $41,695. The BMW and Audi are certainly more serious, and seriously priced. The Mini is sportier, but notably smaller. And still 30% more. We’ll call the Beetle a bargain here.

Wonderful style, a chic and upscale interior, and a great drive. We say get one before VW kills this bug dead!

VW truly has saved the best for last with the 2019 VW Beetle Convertible 2.0T Final Edition.