Thursday, June 12, 2014


Have you seen the new Beetle? The new R-Line is the marketing name for a series of VW trim packages aimed at adding a little more glamour—and customization, and price—to various vehicles, and the recently launched Beetle Turbo convertible is the latest to rock the house.

As with the other R-Line offerings, the rag top Beetle package is composed almost entirely of “performance-inspired” cosmetic enhancements. A set of 19-inch wheels wearing low-profile all-season rubber ContiPro Contacts, sized 235/40 is the only element that could add a small handling advantage on skid pads and freeway ramps. There are no drive line changes.

The Beetle R-Line is more an exercise in aesthetics. Powered by a turbocharged 2-litre four-cylinder gasoline engine, it is essentially a 2013 Beetle Turbo, albeit with 10 more horsepower (210, up from 200), some "R-Line" badges and door sill kickplates, and re-styled front and rear bumpers. The test car's Sunroof, Sound and Navigation package also bundled visual cues unique to the R-Line, such as  19in aluminium wheels, leather seating surfaces and a dash clad in a simulacrum of brushed matte gray aluminium. If the Beetle's cosmetic makeover strikes a shopper as somewhat disingenuous, consider that, according to the Specialty Equipment Market Association, in 2012 US consumers alone spent $12.52bn on styling and appearance accessories that did not do one whit for bottom-line performance. Translation: sportiness is as much a state of mind as it is a state of engine tune.

The rest of heavy metal  are designed to appeal to the eyes and backsides of buyers. Exterior elements include body-colored bumpers (without the chrome trim strip that rock roll  bee ,standard Beetles), a rear rock like hurrycain-style piece, bi-xenon headlamps semi-circled by LED daytime running lights, and, of course, R-Line sailing.

There’s considerably more inside: leather sport seats, a flat-bottomed leather-wrapped steering wheel (à la GTI), a 400-watt Fender audio system, “metallic finish” dash and door trim, stainless-steel R-Line scuff plates, remote keyless access, and pushbutton starting.

It’s an extensive package, and attractively priced at $700. That would raise the MSRP of a loaded Turbo convertible to $33,790.

Unveiled at the Chicago auto show, the Beetle is the fifth U.S.-market R-Line variant, following the CC sedan, Tiguan, Touareg, and Beetle coupe. The R-Line Beetle coupe will go on sale in May, the convertible version in the fall.

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