The VW Beetle is all new for model year 2012 and sees the introduction of the TDI for 2013. The last year the New Beetle TDI was sold was 2006. The Beetle will be sold as 2.5, 2.0T, and TDI. This article focuses on the VW Beetle TDI and shows stuff that you won't find on the manufacturer's website. In addition to invoice and MSRP pricing, standard equipment and options, FAQ, and reviews, it also touches upon things about the TDI from real world TDI owners and drivers. This article is regularly updated as more information comes out so please check back for updates and register to the free forum to join our community of TDI enthusiasts!
The last New Beetle was introduced in 1998 as a mk4 generation car and lasted through 2010 with trim and cosmetic updates. There were no Bugs for model year 2011 and the first year of the new style 2012 Beetles didn't have the TDI engne option. By the time the mk5 generation cars came around, the Beetle was getting long in the tooth but still found a following. By 2010, the mk4 design Beetle was still being sold alongside VW's mk6 cars, a design two generations newer. The 2012 mk6 Beetle is so different from the last year of the New Beetle TDI (2006) that it's not worth comparing them - it's a totally new car and VW even dropped "New" from the Beetle's name for 2012+ models. To the right is a thumbnail showing the overall dimensions of the Beetle. For the Jetta, Sportwagen, or Golf buying guides, please refer to the home page.
recent updates as of Dec 4, 2012: convertible details added
Base VW Beetle TDI: $23,295. Includes 9w7 bluetooth, 4 wheel disc brakes, 17" alloy wheels w/anti theft wheel locks, RCD 310 base radio w/8 speakers and MDI ipod adapter, SiriusXM sat radio w/3 month trial subscription, MDI ipod interface, power windows, leatherette seating, leather steering wheel, and gauge pack (oil temperature, turbo boost, and stopwatch) and KESSY keyless entry and start. Electric assist power steering (instead of hydraulic). Front and rear disc brakes.
VW Beetle TDI w/sunroof : $24,895 . Adds the pano sunroof. It's a large panel sunroof that is 80% longer than the previous model's normal sunroof. This also adds the RCD 510 6 cd color touchscreen radio w/8 speakers and SD card reader.
VW Beetle TDI w/sunroof, sound, and navigation: $26,195. Removes the RNS 510 radio and adds the RNS 315 touchscreen GPS system and Fender Premium audio (400w + trunk subwoofer) to the sunroof trim line.
Base VW Beetle TDI convertible: $27,895. Similar trim level as the Beetle w/sunroof so you're paying around $3000 for the convertile. All TDI Beetle convertibles also add multilink rear suspension. Add $1,100 for DSG.
VW Beetle TDI convertible w/sound and nav: $29,195. Removes the RNS 510 radio and adds the RNS 315 touchscreen GPS system and Fender Premium audio (400w + trunk subwoofer). Add $1,100 for DSG.
9w7 bluetooth: The standard OEM bluetooth on the Beetle is the 9w7. The 9w7 module allows AD2P streaming bluetooth music, ringtone choice, voice control, caller ID, outgoing call capability. If you have the navigation it displays the phonebook or dial pad on the touchscreen display. It will work with the iphone. For more on bluetooth functions and differences between modules, see 1000q: mk6 bluetooth FAQ. For specifics of the 9w7 module including screenshots, see 1000q: 9w7 bluetooth module.
RNS 315 GPS system: For detailed info on the RNS315, see 1000q: RNS 315 GPS system FAQ. The larger screen RNS 510 hard drive system can be swapped in as parts later if you want that - see 1000q: RNS 510 VW GPS system FAQ for more info on that system.
The midline radio and Fender panasonic system: The midline RCD 510 premium 8 radio is touch screen (shown below), 6cd in dash
changer, color, and
accepts SD cards for music. It also does a2dp streaming bluetooth music
(like playing music from your iphone over the radio). There are 8 speakers. If you get the premium fender system, made by panasonic, it adds an amp, trunk mounted subwoofer, and ambient light rings on the front door woofers. The speaker layout is shown below right. Total power with the amp is 400w.
Clean diesel: The TDI engine is a common rail 2.0L 140hp, 236lb-ft torque common rail engine. It's emissions legal in all 50 states and Canada. See 1000q: common rail engine vs. pumpe duse and direct injection for some technical details on the new systems. It's advertised as a clean diesel because it meets emissions standards in all 50 states and Canada. The biggest difference is the diesel particulate filter which collects soot and burns it off during a self clean cycle. See 1000q: DPF FAQ for more details. The filter is why the car is not recommended if you take only 5-10 minute short trips where the car never warms up and never goes on the highway. It won't blow up but this type of driving habit will shorten the life of the filter.
EPA fuel economy: The Beetle TDI is rated at 28 city/41 highway manual and 28/38 DSG. This is a little less than the Golf-Jetta-Sportwagen. The convertible is rated the same.
DSG transmission: The dual shift gearbox is the optional automatic transmission. This is basically an automatically shiting manual transmission with two gearsets and clutches to provide seamless power delivery. It doesn't drive like a conventional planetary gear type automatic. See 1000q: DSG FAQ for details. Regardless of what the EPA rating is, everything else being equal, the manual will get slightly better mpg due to lighter weight and less parasitic losses under real world conditions. A leadfoot will always get lower mileage regardless of transmission. The fluid must be changed every 40,000 miles. See 1000q: DSG fluid service for the DIY service.
KESSY keyless entry start and exit system: KESSY unlocks the doors if you pull on the handle and if the key fob is within 5 feet. It also enables the start button. This means you can leave the key in your pocket or purse and enter/start the car without touching the remote fob. You can lock the car by (with the key fob outside of the car), touching the door lock button on the exterior door handle. A common mistake is to grab the handle when locking the door - just press the button on the outside. One quirk of KESSY that isn't mentioned is that the doors won't stay locked from the outside if you lose a key inside the car. Also, if the key leaves the car without shutting the engine off, the engine will continue running. If the first driver with the key goes somewhere else, the second driver won't notice that they don't have the key until they try to restart the car (won't start without the key). There is a warning on the cluster if this occurs.
Other misc stuff to know before ordering
TDI are very responsive to chip tuning because they are all turbocharged and have some room for improvement. However, since this exact engine type is relatively new, there is still room for further maturation of chip fine tuning. Chip tuning is producing an estimated 160 hp and 290 lb-ft torque on the 2.0 liter TDI engines. The DSG transmission programming can be a limiting factor without a transmission reflash so if you want the easiest engine reflash, get a manual.
Biodiesel in a VW Beetle TDI
The Beetle uses the 2.0L CBEA model TDI engine. Although it will run on biodiesel, VW only allows up to 5% biodiesel (B5) due to the emissions system and engine oil dilution. You may be able to use a higher percentage but I would suggest having oil wear analysis done to know the best time to have the oil changed vs. following VW's 10,000 miles change interval. The difference vs. older TDI engines is the diesel particulate filter (DPF) system. It traps particulates and burns them out in a self clean cycle (post combustion injection). During a post combustion injection cycle, the engine injects a little extra fuel after the engine combustion cycle. The properties of biodiesel mean that it will not evaporate out of the oil and can also wash the cylinder down during post combustion injection. This leads to an accumulation of biodiesel in the engine oil. On average, this self clean cycle occurs every 4-600 miles or once/tank. For more basic information about biodiesel and VW, see 1000q: intro to biodiesel. For pictures of the emissions system and details of how it works, read 1000q: DPF filter FAQ.
These issues are not specific to the Beetle but affect all engines of this type. Keep in mind that problems can get blown out of proportion on the internet and your car does have a warranty. In addition, there will always be a few lemons regardless of brand.
Some TDI have some minor problems with hiccupping or hesitation. There are theories that this is related to the emissions tuning: the exhaust flap creates backpressure exhaust flap for the low pressure EGR system and it could cause a temporary hesitation when combined with certain throttle positions. It appears to be most common when cresting over a hill or lifting off the pedal at a certain position. If it happens to you, please post it in the VW TDI help forum.
A few engines of this type have had high pressure fuel pump (HPFP) failures. It's not yet known what the exact causes are but there are some good theories involving low fuel lubricity in the US, misfueling with gas, water contaminated fuel, or a weak design. There are enough reports to suggest that there is a design issue that has resulted in some failed fuel pumps. VW-Bosch have revised the pump design a few times since introduction to the US market in 2009. Symptoms include stalling, running problems, and metal flakes in the fuel system. See 1000q: fuel filter change article to see some pictures. There is no break-in of the fuel system that will produce flakes of metal large enough to be visible.
While the DSG is an automatically shifting transmission, it doesn't feel like a conventional automatic transmission. One of the most common complaints is hesitation from a stop. If you quickly take your foot off the brake pedal and press hard on the accelerator pedal, it can take the clutches a second to engage. The most common situation this is encountered is if you're trying to pull out before traffic reaches your intersection so learn how the transmission behaves and plan accordingly. Many report that if you wait a split second or gently press the first inch of the accelerator pedal, it won't hesitate. The same thing will happen in a manual transmission car if you slip the clutch - remember, this is basically a manual transmission that automatically shifts. Engine braking will also feel more pronounced than in a conventional automatic.
Please read 1000q: DSG FAQ for maintenance, quirks, and other common issues with the DSG transmission. VW has extended the warranty on some DSG in the past, see the DSG FAQ for more details. The fluid must be changed every 40,000 miles if you want the transmission to shift well. See 1000q: DSG fluid service for the DIY.
Other misc things to know about the car
Front roll bar diameter is 22mm. Front suspension is strut, rear suspension is torsion beam. Front brakes are 11.3" diameter, rear brakes are 10.7" diameter. The convertible adds multilink rear suspension w/18mm anti roll bar.
Coefficient of drag = .38 convertible, .367 for the sedan. Sedan frontal square area is 2.25 sq. m.
Power steering is electric power assist with crosswind correction. This saves energy, reduces maintenance, and uses no power steering fluid.
In the US, regularly scheduled maintenance is included for 3 years or 36,000 miles.
The OEM HID headlights aren't available on the TDI trim, only the top Beetle turbo model. It has 15 white LED lights around the edge of the OEM HID headlight housing. The HID beams turn into corners with the steering wheel at driving speeds. You can add them as parts later but it'll be pretty expensive. Parts required would be the control modules for cornering, headlights, level sensors, and a retrofit wiring harness to plug them in.
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