2014 Volkswagen Beetle TDi - Bug Imitating Camel - Review

“Drive…He Said” recently put Volkswagen of America’s Mark Gillies on the spot. We asked whether every VW offering in the U.S. would eventually feature torque brimming diesel powerplants. Gillies winked and said Americans should expect diesels across the entire VW line by the next model cycles.

For Now: Americans make do with six VW models receiving a spark-less-compression engine option. Last fall we filled the 18.5 gallon tank of a 2013  Passat TDi   with clean, low-sulfur diesel in Chicago for a 610 mile trip to its hometown of Chattanooga. Had we the time and the inclination, there was enough left over to make it Atlanta. At an average speed of just under 70 miles-per-hour, 46 miles per gallon made “Diesel Believers” out of us.

Simple Extrapolation: The 2014 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible TDi has but a 14.5 gallon hold. It needs no urea injection. And at 3300 lbs. it’s no lighter than the Passat TDi. Our reliance on the instrument cluster Multi-Function indicator won’t meet  Wayne Gerdes’ “Clean MPG”   stringent standards of certifying fuel levels and sealed filler doors. Let it be said, that at “Drive…He Said” we rely on the same in-vehicle consumption calculators for all vehicles we test, resorting to math only when we absolutely have to.

Behold the 37 miles per each gallon of diesel fuel, in an equal mix of urban/ freeway use of the Beetle Convertible TDi.

Shove Off: In “VW-land” the much-respected 6-speed Dual Shift Gearbox is normally reserved for the sportiest gasoline -powered offerings: Jetta GLI, Golf GTI and CC. Yet 240 pound-feet of torque from the Beetle Convertible TDi’s 2.0L SOHC turbocharged inline-four diesel is more than in any of those gas models. No human foot can match the speed of microprocessor engagement and disengagement of twin clutches for dispatching spin to the front tires at 1750 rpm. For the “Pinball Wizards” out there, the DSG can be slap-or-paddle shifted.

Our Candy White “Kaefer“, with thick-padded black soft retracting top won’t induce much rear-view mirror intimidation. However, watch out as the Beetle Convertible TDi easily “peels out” on front Hankook Optimo all-season tires. Notwithstanding always-on stability control. A 4-legged scurry to 60 mph happens in less than 8 seconds. The modest power rating of 140hp from the 16.5:1 compression ratio confines all the excitement to under 4500 rpm.

Drop the Beetle TDi top and there is little wind or motor noise at 50 mph. At least not the kind that would drown out nuances in the optional Fender audio system.

At idle-speeds valves cackle, a birthmark of high-compression engines. The front strut/ rear multi-link suspension returns a very civilized ride, favoring gentler inputs.

As to the remainder of our assessment of the Beetle convertible we more-or-less stand by our assessments of an  unleaded-drinking Beetle cabrio from earlier this year.

It just so happens that adding a torquey spark-less. compression engine to the Beetle adds some pep to the “drop top” retro “People’s tourer. Starting at $29,595 with DSG, the 2014 VW Beetle Convertible TDi, is $2800 steeper than a comparably equipped gas 2.5L 5-cylinder model.

Only that this diesel-powered “Bug” is to fuel what a “Camel” is to water.


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  • I really like your blog :) thanks for sharing

  • In reply to john steve:

    Thanks for your support! If there is any car or technology that you'd like to see a review on just let us know.

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