On The Road

Ending on a high note

Mike Hagerty/Special to the Town Crier
The 2019 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible 2.0T Final Edition SEL features a turbocharged engine with 174 horsepower. VW recently announced it’s ending production of the Beetle.

You probably saw articles and videos earlier this summer with headlines like “Volkswagen Beetle ends production after 70 years.” I hate to be a buzzkill, but I hate hype and inaccuracy more, so indulge me a moment, please.

The Volkswagen Beetle that started production 70 years ago ended production 40 years ago. There was a big farewell for that one, too – in 1979. And the triple-white Final Edition convertibles are still on the street in a lot of Peninsula cities.

Once that one went away, there wasn’t a Beetle for sale in America for 19 years – until the arrival of the 1998 New Beetle, which had zero in common with the original apart from a rounded body. The engine was in the front, not the back, and it was water-cooled, not air-cooled; it was a rounded Beetle-inspired body on the chassis of a Jetta. But we’re not mourning the retirement of that car after a 21-year run, either. Its last year was 2011.

No, the model that we’re saying goodbye to is the current Volkswagen Beetle, which has been in production since 2012. But “Volkswagen Beetle ends production after seven years” isn’t much of a headline, is it?

And that’s too bad, because the 2019 Volkswagen Beetle is actually the best of the bunch – and never really got its due. Just how good it is was driven home to me in August with a week in the 2019 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible 2.0T Final Edition SEL. Yes, that’s a mouthful, but basically, it’s explaining that the top goes down (there’s also a hardtop Final Edition), it has a turbocharged engine (174 horsepower), it features VW’s top trim level and it’s the last one.

VW has a history of special Final Editions, and they’re usually quite good. In the case of the 2019 Beetle Final Edition, the company is offering a couple of colors you can only get on the Final Edition Beetle: Safari Uni and Stonewashed Blue (if you want the standard Platinum Gray Metallic, Pure White or Deep Black Pearl, they’re available, too). You can get a Final Edition in SE or SEL trim, with the SEL (the one we drove) running on 18-inch white-painted wheels with a center chrome disc and diamond-patterned stitched leather seats (available in either black or black and tan). There’s also a tan-colored dash insert, gloss black upper-door panels and center console, and stainless-steel trim on the pedals.

It’s sharp. Even a friend of mine who owns a BMW was impressed by the overall look and the quality of the materials involved.

Bells and whistles

I drove it from Folsom to San Carlos, San Carlos to Monterey, back to San Carlos and home to Folsom over a period of approximately 40 hours. It was comfortable, fun to drive, got great gas mileage (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency-estimated 26 city/33 highway) and drew looks on the street in Monterey during car week. It is especially sharp looking in Stonewashed Blue Metallic with a beige top.

This car is also an exceptionally well-equipped machine. Some of the standard equipment includes automatic Bi-Xenon headlights; halogen fog lights; LED daytime running lights and taillights; heated, foldable, power-adjusted outside mirrors with integrated turn signals; dual-zone automatic climate control; heated front seats; an automatic-dimming rearview mirror; and a Fender Premium audio system.

Best of all is the price: $29,995. Add the $895 destination charge and you’re at $30,890.

Where else can you get a new convertible- – much less a loaded, stylish, limited-edition one – for 30 grand? The 2019 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible 2.0T Final Edition SEL feels like a great deal.

Mike Hagerty has been writing about cars since 1997 and is vice president of membership for Western Automotive Journalists (waj.org). Read more of his auto reviews on his website (tirekicker.blogspot.com) and follow him on Twitter (twitter.com/mikehagertycars) and on Facebook (

facebook.com/ mikehagertywritesaboutcars

). He also co-anchors the KFBK Afternoon News (93.1 FM/1530 AM) in Sacramento.

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