Volkswagen Beetle TDI (2013)

  • Pro List Icon Pros
  • Built on the new Jetta platform, this Beetle is bigger and wider than in years past—and it needed to be both. This newer, new Beetle feels less confining than the old, new Beetle it replaces.
  • Impressive diesel mileage. Higher MPG than a gasoline engine—the turbo diesel gets 41 highway/28 city, compared with 29/22 for the gasoline version. (See below, though, for a more detailed analysis.)
  • On the automotive masculinity-femininity scale, the 2013 Beetle moves a few more ticks towards masculinity. Mind you, you’ll never see a WWF wrestler driving this car—until they adopt a few of our suggestions to “man up” the Beetle, that is.
  • Handles well, great acceleration from the turbo diesel, and unlike diesels of yesteryear, there’s virtually no stink.
  • Well-insulated engine compartment resulted in no more noise than a traditional, gas-powered car for the driver and passengers. Outside the vehicle, however, the diesel engine noise is noticeably louder.
  • The Beetle started easily in cold weather, in just a few seconds—unlike diesels of yesteryear, which were often balky during the winter months. Will it start reliably at minus-20F. with 100,000 miles on the engine? Only time will tell.
  • Excellent front visibility, with a traditional, steeper A pillar in the front corners, and a less-raked windshield than the previous Beetle.
  • Retro-looking dashboard is pretty cool. It’s plastic, but it definitely looks like metal. Except what’s the stopwatch in the middle of the dashboard for? You really going to drag race a diesel Volkswagen?
  • Con List IconCons
  • Spews 40 times the allowable amount of NOx pollution into the atmosphere because VW cheated on the emissions tests and deceived millions of customers.
  • Lousy visibility out the back -- and no backup camera.
  • Very short but noticeable automatic transmission lag when starting on an incline.
  • Even with the recent redesign, there’s essentially no room in the back seat. Use it only for children, or adults you really want to make suffer.
  • During very cold temperatures, the engine requires several seconds to warm up. Glow plugs within the engine need time to heat up the combustion chambers, so the diesel fuel will ignite. The delay, after pressing the start button, is a bit disconcerting if you’re not used to it.
  • Once it started, the Beetle ran a bit rougher than normal for a few seconds.
  • Due to the high compression engine, diesels tend to start up a bit more roughly in general, compared to gasoline engines.
  • Be ready to pay more when you do fill up. Diesel fuel currently tends to be a bit more expensive than gas—though not so pricey that it negates the improved fuel economy.
  • Diesel is more expensive than gas per gallon, and the diesel Beetle has a higher up front cost, as well. Those additional costs can take up to ten years to recoup through the higher MPG you’ll see day-to-day—and that assumes the gap between gas and diesel prices doesn’t get larger or smaller. Our conclusion? Don’t buy a diesel if you’re counting on saving thousands, over the life of the car. The savings are unclear.

Other notes:

  • Want more info? Read BestRide's review of the 2013 VW Beetle TDI here.

  • How about a little more speed on the ball? Read the BestRide review of the 2014 VW Beetle R-line 2.0T

  • Ready to look at a VW New Beetle in your area? Click here and let BestRide do the legwork for you.

  • You must be logged in to leave a comment. Login / Signup
    Support for Car Talk is provided by:

    Donate Your Car,
    Support Your NPR Station

    ...and get a tax break!

    Get Started

    Find a Mechanic

    Promo tile

    Rocket Fuel