The 2014 Volkswagen Beetle R-Line is the sporty version of the Beetle that replaces the Turbo edition from last year. This model year of the Beetle is marked by the same manly stance of the previous year, but includes more standard features to go with the same screaming Porsche-like performance.

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Specs:

  • Manufacturer: Volkswagen
  • Year, Model: 2014 Beetle R-Line
  • Class: Compact Coupe
  • Powertrain: 2.0L i4, 6spd auto
  • Base Price: $31,395
  • MSRP as tested: $32,215
  • Availability: Now

Overview

Last year, we drove the 2013 Beetle Convertible and called it the “Poor Man’s Porsche.” This proved an apt description for the turbocharged retro VW. The same little powertrain and sport chassis that underpinned that 2013 model is in this 2014 rendition, but we found that the hard top coupe, as we drove it this time around, is a little faster, but far more cramped for big boys like me.

Specific updates to the Beetle lineup this year include the limited-edition GSR coupe that harkens to the 1970s racing Beetle and the new R-Line name change for the Turbo edition comes thanks to a new, turbocharged base engine replacing the naturally aspirated engine before it. Standard features in the base Beetle model are added and VW’s Car-Net and a rearview camera are now offered.

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Under the Hood of the 2014 Beetle R-Line

Like the 2013 convertible, our 2014 Volkswagen Beetle R-Line had the 2.0-liter turbocharged TSI which outputs 210 horsepower and 207 lb-ft of torque. This translates into excellent speed given the small size of the Beetle it’s in. The automatic transmission, as we drove it, has been tested at 7 seconds in a 0-60 by other journalists, but fur us, it delivered a whopping 103 mph on the freeway onramp test. Jokingly, we timed the R-Line in a 0-60 foot test and it returned a 3.6 second time on dirt.

The transmission defaults to a 6-speed manual while our test model had a six-speed automated manual (aka DSG). This can be shifted through either paddle shifters on the column or with the stick with “up-down” movements.

The chassis is really where it’s at with this 2014 Beetle R-Line, though. The tight, well-tuned steering and suspension make for a spirited, tight-turning ride that handles very well.

Interior of the Beetle Coupe

For a large man like myself (6’3″, 250 pounds), the interior of the 2014 Beetle is a bit cramped. It is not untenable, however, and there is still ample shoulder and leg room so long as you have no plans for putting anyone in the back seat. As a 2+2 coupe, this is the norm, and it should be noted that headroom and hip room is ample, though knee room on the driver’s side is a little slight.

Every control, thanks to the small cabin, is within easy reach. When driving with performance in mind, the tight quarters are welcome and the lack of a large screened infotainment system is actually a plus, as it minimizes distractions while still allowing for easy access to audio controls. The size of the screen in the updated infotainment system is perfect for the Beetle.

Speaking of audio, as with all Volkswagen models, we highly recommend the Fender Audio upgrade for one of the best audio offerings in the industry. The leather trim seating and comfort amenities in the upper trims is also a good bet, though the sunroof is not likely to impress most with its limited opening and odd control knob.

Cargo space is far larger than the size of the Beetle would indicate. The 2014 Beetle’s hatch opens to reveal an open space that holds much more than anticipated. Few buying in this segment will think the Beetle lacking in the cargo compartment.

Behind the Wheel of the 2014 Volkswagen Beetle

As mentioned, the 2014 Beetle R-Line is a wonderful drive with an emphasis on sport in both speed and tuning. It’s truly a poor man’s Porsche as it corners tightly, accelerates well, and begs the driver to do this often.  Even long highway drives devolve into quick lane changes and a looking forward to the next curve, no matter how gentle.

Those who do not want the tight ride and bounce of a sports car, of course, should forego the R-Line for the more sedate base model Beetle.

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Competition

Most of the competition for the Beetle series are the “cute” European offerings like the 500 and the Mini. Both have directly competitive models for the 2014 Beetle R-Line to include the Fiat 500 Abarth and the Mini Cooper S. The Beetle handles far better than does the Mini and the Abarth, while it feels faster, is not actually speedier than the Beetle R-Line. The Beetle is larger than the 500, but not necessarily roomier while it’s smaller than the Cooper on all counts.

Strong Points

Excellent handling characteristics for a low-cost speedster.

Great look that appeals to a wider audience than expected, though it’s still polarizing.

Weaknesses

Spendy for the segment, though not out of the question.

Conclusions

The 2014 Volkswagen Beetle R-Line is a well-done sports coupe whose main appeal, beyond its retro look and nostalgic feel, is in its close attention to performance handling. The 2014 Beetle R-Line is manlier than its outer appearance might indicate and is a true joy to drive.

Test Period Length and Limitations
The Beetle R-Line was a manufacturer’s press loan for about a week, during which time we drove it in town, highway, and freeway situations as well as some speed and maneuverability testing. A total of 338 miles were put on the Beetle.

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An automotive enthusiast for most of his adult life, Aaron has worked in and around the industry in many ways. He is an accredited member of the Rocky Mountain Automotive Press (RMAP), the Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA), and freelances as a writer and journalist around the Web and in print. You can find his portfolio at AaronOnAutos.com.

8 thoughts on “2014 Volkswagen Beetle R-Line – The Manly Beetle”

  1. This car rocks! It truly is a poor man’s porsche. I own a 2014 r line and it is the best car I have ever owned.

    This car is almost perfect. I love it.

    It rocks. And the 911-like looks really are its main virtue.

    1. 911 looks might be stretching it, but this is definitely a surprisingly nimble and fast little car. I thoroughly enjoyed driving it for a week and laughed when others scoffed when I said it was a fast Beetle.

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