R-Line drives Beetle mettle

2014-02-01T14:08:00Z R-Line drives Beetle mettleBy Jim Jackson Times Autos Correspondent nwitimes.com
February 01, 2014 2:08 pm  • 

Automakers know a car’s heritage helps sell future generations of particular models.

America’s Chevrolet Camaro, Dodge Challenger and Ford Mustang have current sales success due in part to their styling cues from last century’s originals.

But when Germany’s Volkswagen Beetle was reinvented in 1998 as the “New Beetle”, it left some buyers at the curb over a few of its classic carryovers.

Designers revamped the New Beetle with a modern interpretation of its three-arch body design and stylized interior that includes a dashboard bud vase reminiscent of Beetle’s rolling presence during the ‘flower power’ movement in the 1960s.

“The VW Beetle has an iconic design that people have a personal attachment to,” says Mac Cannon, general sales manager for Team Volkswagen in Merrillville. “Lots of buyers have a story about their first Beetle. Those owners are passionate about their cars and are among our most loyal customers.”

Legions of women were attracted to the endearing cuteness of the second generation Beetle. By the end of its run in 2010, over 60 percent of New Beetle sales were to female buyers.

The following year, VW stylists sought a more balanced approach to the third generation 2012 Beetle buyer spectrum. The “New Beetle” nomenclature became history. So did the bud vase.

Beetle’s familiar look remains but this time the top is flatter, the windshield more upright and the rear roofline longer. The body profile is lower for a ground-hugging stance. It also is six-inches longer and over three-inches wider for more masculine appeal.

For 2014, Volkswagen engineers collaborate with designers to develop the Beetle R-Line for a muscled-up version of the standard Beetle.

“Beetle R-Line customers are looking for sportiness and performance along with all the other qualities they expect from a Volkswagen,” Cannon said.

The 2014 Beetle R-Line is race-inspired with a gutsy 2.0-liter turbocharged in-line four cylinder engine that builds 210 horsepower coupled to a 6-speed manual transmission.

Acceleration is brisk with a strong turbo punch felt at 2300 rpm guided by an electro-mechanical power steering system that delivers fun-to-drive precision control where directed.

With a prudent throttle, fuel economy of 24 miles per gallon/city and 30 mpg/hwy is achieved.

Handling is complimented by a sport suspension that keeps R-Line’s body posture flat though corners.

Beetle R-Line comes with an aggressive front fascia and corning lights that illuminate the road when turning at night.

Inside, the 2014 Beetle R-Line delivers what the outside promises with a competition-style steering wheel and dashboard featuring top-mounted gauges that display turbo boost, oil temperature and clock with stopwatch function.

Textured cloth seats with heated front cushions are standard.

Headroom is enormous for four adult occupants. Beetle’s increased length also creates ample rear legroom.

When unoccupied, lowering the split-folding back seats doubles the cabin cargo capacity to 30 cubic feet.

The 2014 Beetle R-Line with standard sunroof and Fender sound system carries a bottom line of $28,650 with freight.

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