I originally went to the VW dealer to buy a GTI but I didn't like the car. It looks great and the GTI title suggests that it's a grand touring car but it's more of a track car, not what I was looking for. So, after testing the GTI, I rested my back a little bit (the GTI suspension is rock hard) then tried the Beetle S. And, I loved it. It's a solid sports coupe with the perfect mix of performance and comfort. Also, it's quite a good value. These are the key features: an Audi derived turbo charged four cylinder (smooth and powerful), automatic transmission that can be shifted manually, Hankook GT tires (great performance tires with a lot of grip), multilink independent rear suspension, and a radiator grill done NASCAR style (positioned down low). You can get all this for about $21,000. It's hard to find another brand that offers all this at that price point. Bottom line, it's a lot of fun to drive. I drove a 2007 VW Rabbit for 10 years and the only maintenance, other than routine, was the replacement of transmission driveshaft boots. So, I think it's reasonable to expect this car to be just as reliable. Also, just a final note, VW engineers chose this car to race in Red Bull Global Rallycross in which it won two championships.
The looks of the Beetle are great, but the driving experience is very underwhelming. Tons of road noise & not that easy to see out of the rear. Car handles & accelerates ok but the interior fabric & armrests feel rather cheap. Much nicer feeling small cars on the market like the NIssan Sentra & Honda Civic, they just don't have the Beetle look.