ROCK N’ ROLL
Volkswagen Beetle Fender Edition
This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!
Published on Sun, Nov 17, 2013
By: The LACar Editorial Staff
By Zoran Segina "It's a 1954 Strat Sunburst," Robert exclaims after a single glance at the dashboard of the 2013 Volkswagen Beetle Fender Edition. Robert should know. He shows me a book with all of Leo Fender's guitars, and sure enough there it is—a legendary Stratocaster with a beautiful dark mahogany finish which lightens into an orange-yellow palette. The Beetle Fender resembles a classic Bug improved by aftermarket parts. The dashboard is beautifully inlaid with the Sunburst Edition wood. Three large dials—a speedometer, with a circle of electronic information on the bottom, a large tachometer and a fuel consumption gauge are in front of the driver. Above the dashboard in the center sit oil temperature gauge, stopwatch, and turbo pressure indicator. A large screen below could house the satellite navigation, but on the tested model contains all media information. The audio can be controlled with the buttons on the steering wheel. A start/stop engine control button is in front of the floor shifter. A standard VW automatic shifter called VSG allows driving in fully automatic mode, or becomes a sequential manual shifter when pushed to the right. Driver can also use paddle shifters on the steering wheel. Once they are engaged the Beetle Fender will automatically switch to the manual/electronic mode. A classic round rear view mirror with a simple mechanical adjustment for day/night setting brings back memories. A large curved windshield begs for bigger sun visors especially when driving against the setting sun. The space above the rear view mirror houses cabin lights and a control button for a very large sunroof. The roof is shielded by a mesh cover, similar to the fabric of the Fender amplifiers. Slide the mesh back, and the entire roof becomes transparent. The seats are mechanical but have multiple adjustments and hug the body well. They are covered in a patterned cloth similar to the one that covered Fender products. With a thick, leather-clad steering wheel that has telescopic and rake adjustment, it is easy for the driver to find a perfect position. Two cup holders are placed behind the shifter. The adjustable elbow rest—with a small storage space inside—can be lowered for relaxed cruising, or moved out of the way for spirited driving. As it befits the Fender Edition the speakers are everywhere. Two large ones (that can be made to glow in different colors) are in the front doors, with two more behind the A pillars. There are four speakers in the back, and big subwoofer in the trunk. Radio has slot for CD. I could not easily find the audio adjustments for bass treble and fade until I located two inconspicuous buttons on the upper right. With the redesigned interior, the dashboard and the angled windshield are much more proportional to the overall dimension of the car. Chromed rear view mirrors have blinker control lights. The steering wheel contains audio and car status information controls. Pushing the button with a picture of a speaker, however, activated a very authoritative female voice which gave me a stern lecture on how to connect my phone. I was simply too intimidated to continue. The B pillars are pushed rearward to provide ample visibility from the front seats, but require a contortion to reach for a seat belt. A traditional plastic handle adds an emotional touch. In this Beetle Fender all the amenities of the modern car are discretely incorporated into the design of the old Bug. The nostalgia is ever present, but in a measured and discreet dose. Once underway, everything seems to be within the driver's reach and at the right level making driving intuitive. Two stalks on each side of the steering column contain all the controls. The pedals are brushed metal with sticky inserts. Left foot rests on a very functional dead pedal. Thick A pillars are placed sufficiently forward so as not to obstruct visibility. The rounded fenders—which on the old Bugs carried dents, dings, and scratches as a badge of honor - are not so damage-inviting. It is easy to gauge the outside dimensions of the car. Robert, Tom and I are taking the Beetle Fender for a lunch-hour test drive. On a freeway ramp, a car on the right is blocking our way. Quick switch to the left, a step on the gas, the turbo kicks in, and we are passing on the outside with a controlled slide on the Hankook Optimo 235/45 R 18 H rated tires. Even with three passengers the Beetle Fender is very agile. The turbocharged five-cylinder- inline engine has the same horsepower as the standard Beetle, but is much more agile and responsive. Turbo lag is barely noticeable. From the very first moment the driver is left with reassuring feeling that he can push the car to the limit without any surprises. On the twisty road above the Dodgers' stadium I shift to the VSG, and we go on a spirited run. The VSG setting has a "sport" position which changes shifting points and the engine management without any additional manual input. In the back, Robert is enjoying every moment of it. In the front, Tom's ashen face reflects the thoughts about his children, and whether he will live long enough to see them graduating. Even while commuting, the extra peppiness allows for a more determined drive which can significantly shorten traveling time. The weight just under three thousand pound makes the Beetle Fender very responsive. If cars were evaluated on the nimbleness, this guy would score very high. Spoiler. The Tall Girl, however, remains underwhelmed: " I don't have to see more than one Fender sign on the car. It's ostentatious." She finds the seats and suspension too firm. The Beetle Fender reminds her of the Deux Chevaux - a legendary Citroen 2CV compact. "I could only use it for local travel." When I explain that this car was specifically designed to appeal to male customers, she retorts: "Because they are ready to buy anything?" She finds that digital and analog counters on the stopwatch have too many moving parts ( I reluctantly have to concede this point.) The redesigned Beetle Fender Edition is a happy compromise between a modern car and nostalgia. The monochromatic front design with fog lights underneath looks solid and compact. The rear spoiler is undoubtedly functional, but also adds to the overall harmonious design. Eighteen inch tires not only make the frontal section—designed to house the engine - visually smaller, but are nicely complemented by the traditionally looking hubcaps. In the rear, big round lights are gone, but the new assembly can be easily seen from the side. Two big chrome-covered exhaust pipes bring back the Bugs of yore. Big headlight assembly contains a line of LED lights. Main Bi-xenon headlights are positioned under covers that look like little hats. With the big VW badge on the front the Beetle Fender resembles a Bug with droopy eyelids and a mischievous smile. With every reason to do so. For more information about Volkswagen products, go to www.vw.com SPECIFICATIONS Name of vehicle: 2013 Volkswagen Beetle Fender Edition Price MSRP: $25,235 (base) - Every Beetle Fender® Edition comes with eight speakers, a subwoofer, and a 400-watt amplifier $30,300 (as tested) EPA mileage estimates City/ Highway: 24/30 mpg Engine type: Turbocharged gasoline in-line four cylinder 2.0 liter engine LA Car observed: 24.6 mpg Horsepower: 200 @ 2300 rpm Torque: 207 pound-feet @ 1700 rpm Drive configuration: Front wheel drive Transmission type: Automatic with DSG electronic Tiptronic shifter Suspension Front: Strut type with lower control arms, telescopic dampers and 22 mm diameter anti-roll bar. Rear: Multilink, coil springs, telescopic dampers, 18 mm diameter anti-roll bar Steering: Rack and pinion, hydraulic power assist Wheels and tires: 18-inch x 8J aluminum alloy wheels with 235/45R18H Hankook Optimo tires Brakes Front: 11.3 x 1.0 inch power-assisted vented discs Rear: 10.7 x 0.4 in. sold rear discs Dimensions Length: 168.4 inches Width: 71.2 inches Height: 58.5 inches Curb weight: 2,939 pounds