I want TDI, not TSI - 2012 Volkswagen Beetle Long-Term Road Test

2012 Volkswagen Beetle Long Term Road Test

2012 Volkswagen Beetle: I want TDI, not TSI

March 12, 2013

2012 Volkswagen Beetle

Variety is one of the better aspects of the current generation Volkswagen Beetle. You can order it as a coupe or convertible. Next you have the choice of three engines: a 2.5-liter five-cylinder, a 2.0-liter Turbo like our long-term car, and a 2.0-liter Turbo Diesel. If it were my money, I'd choose the Beetle TDI. Here's why.

The 2.0 liter TSI engine in our long-term Beetle is a great engine, but it feels out of character in this car. If I wanted that engine, I'd buy a GTI. As a hypothetical Beetle owner, I'd be more concerned with buying a stylish coupe that gets good fuel economy. And the TDI is about 28-percent more fuel-efficient than the other engines (32 combined mpg vs. 25 mpg). I like the wheels better on the TDI too. The Turbo's rear wing and 18-inch wheels are a bit too much for my tastes.

That's just my opinion, but let me make a more objective case for the TDI. I can buy a Beetle TDI with sunroof, sound, and navigation for $200 less than our Beetle Turbo without nav. My monthly fuel costs would be $50 less than the Turbo, according to the Edmunds comparison tool.

What about the higher cost of diesel? Here in California, the average price of a gallon of diesel ($4.37) is less than the average price of the premium gas ($4.40) that's recommended for the Turbo, according to the latest AAA Fuel Gauge report.

There's one option I'd want, but which cannot be had on a Beetle TDI: the Fender Edition package. I love the wood trim on this version, and it is the only way to get bi-xenon lights on a Beetle.

Which Beetle would you pick?

Ronald Montoya, Consumer Advice Editor @ 15,353 miles


  • rjett rjett Posts:

    I would completely agree with you IF the TDI had more power. 140 HP is just too low for my taste. But that's just my opinion.

  • matt_a matt_a Posts:

    I would choose the TDI hands down. It may only make 140hp, but it makes 236 ft-lbs of torque. That more than makes up for the lower hp figure. It really isn't much slower than the 2.0T, and the fuel economy bump is definitely worth it.

  • fordson1 fordson1 Posts:

    I have a GTI and I've driven a Jetta with the TDI. It's way slower than my car. It's tough to say what engine I would get in a Beetle, because I really can't see getting a Beetle.

  • nippononly nippononly Posts:

    Fender edition turbo, no question. It doesn't help that in my area diesel is consistently $0.40/gallon more than premium unleaded.

  • alex_e_ alex_e_ Posts:

    Glad you posted this - I am looking at a number of replacement options for my 2008 Mini Clubman (non-S). Aside from another Mini, I was considering the VW options (GLI, GTI, and Beetle). I like the idea of a TDI Beetle, for the robustness of the engines (don't diesels last longer generally), and the efficiency. I agree about the xenons - sad that they aren't even an option on the TDI.

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