COAL Comparison: Three Generations of Beetle

Having purchased a 2013 Beetle TDi Convertible earlier this year, I am now on my third major platform/generation of Volkswagen Beetle. When I purchased my former 2000 New Beetle TDI (later to become “Herbie”), I had the presence of mind to photograph a number of common details before Eeyore, my ’64, was picked up by his new owner. I’ve now shot the same details from the ’13, and present them after the jump as a study in how the Beetle has changed over the past 50 years.

1964 Type I 2000 New Beetle TDI 2013 Beetle TDi Convertible
Length 160.0″ 161.1″ 168.4″
Width 60.6″ 67.9″ 71.2″
Height 59.0″ 59.5″ 58.5″
Weight 1,629lb 2,712lb 3,296lb
Displacement 1.2l 1.9l 2.0l
HP (DIN/net) 34 90 140
Torque 65 ft-lb 155 ft-lb 236 ft-lb
Avg. Fuel Economy 28 mpg 44 mpg 41 mpg

Before we get to the photos, let’s take a quick look at some key stats on the three cars. The New Beetle gained over 7″ in width over the Type I, but length and height stayed relatively unchanged. The 2013 Beetle, on the other hand, grew substantially both in length and width, and its weight is more than double the ’64 (some of which is attributable to the convertible body). Interior headroom is excellent in all three vehicles, even for someone in the 98th percentile, height-wise.

More telling is a comparison of horsepower and torque… while displacement only increased 1.7x from 1.2l to 1.9l (TDI) to 2.0 (TDi), net horsepower and torque increased by 4.1x and 3.63x respectively.

Driving dynamics are completely different between the cars as well. The swing-axle RWD Type I, with its torsion-bar suspension, is not to be thrashed in the curves unless you really know the car well and are prepared for sudden and aggressive trailing throttle oversteer. Its light steering feel, on the other hand, always brought a smile to my face – it’s a car in which you still really “feel” the road. The New Beetle is easily the best of the three from a handling standpoint, and after replacing the whole suspension with Audi TT and other performance components, had very neutral characteristics in turns, with sure and immediate turn-in and no drama at the limits. The Beetle convertible benefits from independent rear suspension (as compared with the New Beetle’s beam), but noticeably oversteers, and is much more at home “touring” rather than “hooning.”

So enough with the facts and data. Here are the photos (click to embiggen).