2020 BMW 2 Series vs. 2019 Volkswagen Beetle

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

The 2 Series has standard City Collision Mitigation, which use forward mounted sensors to warn the driver of a possible collision ahead. If the driver doesn’t react and the system determines a collision is imminent, it automatically applies the brakes at full-force in order to reduce the force of the crash or avoid it altogether. The Beetle doesn't offer collision warning or crash mitigation brakes.

The 2 Series offers all-wheel drive to maximize traction under poor conditions, especially in ice and snow. The Beetle doesn’t offer all-wheel drive.

The 2 Series’ lane departure warning system alerts a temporarily inattentive driver when the vehicle begins to leave its lane. The Beetle doesn’t offer a lane departure warning system.

The 2 Series offers optional Park Distance Control to help warn the driver about vehicles, pedestrians or other obstacles behind or in front of their vehicle. The Beetle doesn’t offer a front parking aid.

The 2 Series’ driver alert monitor detects an inattentive driver then sounds a warning and suggests a break. According to the NHTSA, drivers who fall asleep cause about 100,000 crashes and 1500 deaths a year. The Beetle doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.

Both the 2 Series and the Beetle have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, plastic fuel tanks, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, daytime running lights and rearview cameras.

A significantly tougher test than their original offset frontal crash test, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety does 40 MPH small overlap frontal offset crash tests. In this test, where only 25% of the total width of the vehicle is struck, results indicate that the BMW 2 Series Coupe is safer than the Beetle:

2 Series

Beetle

Overall Evaluation

GOOD

MARGINAL

Restraints

GOOD

POOR

Head Neck Evaluation

GOOD

GOOD

Head injury index

269

293

Peak Head Forces

0 G’s

0 G’s

Steering Column Movement Rearward

0 cm

2 cm

Chest Evaluation

GOOD

GOOD

Max Chest Compression

17 cm

23 cm

Hip & Thigh Evaluation

GOOD

GOOD

Hip & Thigh Injury Risk R/L

0%/0%

0%/0%

Lower Leg Evaluation

GOOD

GOOD

For its top level performance in all IIHS frontal, side, rear impact and roof-crush tests, with its optional front crash prevention system, and its available headlight’s “Acceptable” rating, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the 2 Series the rating of “Top Pick” for 2018, a rating granted to only 104 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The Beetle was not even a standard “Top Pick” for 2018.

Warranty

The 2 Series comes with free roadside assistance for 4 years unlimited miles. BMW will send help if you run out of gas, need a jump-start, lock your keys in or need any assistance on the road. Volkswagen doesn’t give free roadside assistance for the Beetle.

The 2 Series’ corrosion warranty is 2 years longer than the Beetle’s (12 vs. 10 years).

BMW pays for scheduled maintenance on the 2 Series for 3 years and 36,000 miles. BMW will pay for oil changes, lubrication and any other required maintenance. Volkswagen doesn’t pay scheduled maintenance for the Beetle.

Reliability

The battery on the 2 Series is in the trunk, which protects it from hot underhood temperatures that can degrade battery life. By keeping the 2 Series’ battery 20 to 30 degrees cooler, its life is increased by years. The Beetle’s battery is in the hot engine compartment.

J.D. Power and Associates rated the 2 Series second among small premium cars in their 2018 Initial Quality Study. The Beetle isn’t in the top three in its category.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2018 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that BMW vehicles are better in initial quality than Volkswagen vehicles. J.D. Power ranks BMW 11th in initial quality, above the industry average. With 16 more problems per 100 vehicles, Volkswagen is ranked 24th, below the industry average.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that BMW vehicles are more reliable than Volkswagen vehicles. J.D. Power ranks BMW 7th in reliability, above the industry average. With 9 more problems per 100 vehicles, Volkswagen is ranked 12th.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that BMW vehicles are more reliable than Volkswagen vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks BMW 8 places higher in reliability than Volkswagen.

Engine

The 230i’s standard 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. produces 74 more horsepower (248 vs. 174) and 74 lbs.-ft. more torque (258 vs. 184) than the Beetle’s 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. The M240i’s standard 3.0 turbo 6 cyl. produces 161 more horsepower (335 vs. 174) and 185 lbs.-ft. more torque (369 vs. 184) than the Beetle’s 2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

As tested in Car and Driver the M240i is faster than the Volkswagen Beetle (automatics tested):

2 Series

Beetle

Zero to 60 MPH

4.3 sec

7.9 sec

Zero to 100 MPH

10.3 sec

22.7 sec

Quarter Mile

12.7 sec

16.1 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

111 MPH

86 MPH

Top Speed

155 MPH

118 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

Regenerative brakes improve the 2 Series’ fuel efficiency by converting inertia back into energy instead of wasting it. The Beetle doesn’t offer a regenerative braking system.

In heavy traffic or at stoplights the 2 Series’ engine automatically turns off when the vehicle is stopped, saving fuel and reducing pollution. The engine is automatically restarted when the driver gets ready to move again. (Start/Stop isn’t accounted in present EPA fuel mileage tests.) The Beetle doesn’t offer an automatic engine start/stop system.

Transmission and Drivetrain

The 2 Series offers a manual transmission for better acceleration, control and fuel economy. The Beetle doesn’t offer a manual transmission.

An eight-speed automatic is standard on the BMW 2 Series, for better acceleration and lower engine speed on the highway. Only a six-speed automatic is available for the Beetle.

All wheel drive, available in the 2 Series, provides the best traction for acceleration in wet, dry, and icy conditions. In corners, all wheel drive allows both outside wheels to provide power, balancing the car. This allows for better handling. The Volkswagen Beetle is not available with all wheel drive.

The 2 Series Automatic’s launch control uses engine electronics to hold engine RPM’s precisely in order to provide the most stable and rapid acceleration possible, using all of the available traction. The Beetle doesn’t offer launch control.

Brakes and Stopping

For better stopping power the 2 Series’ brake rotors are larger than those on the Beetle:

230i

M240i

Beetle

Front Rotors

12.3 inches

13.4 inches

11.3 inches

Rear Rotors

11.8 inches

13.6 inches

10 inches

The 2 Series’ standard front and rear disc brakes are vented to help dissipate heat for shorter stops with less fading. The rear discs on the Beetle are solid, not vented.

The 2 Series stops much shorter than the Beetle:

2 Series

Beetle

70 to 0 MPH

155 feet

178 feet

Car and Driver

Tires and Wheels

The 230i’s standard tires provide better handling because they have a lower 50 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Beetle S’ standard 60 series tires. The 2 Series’ optional 225/40R18 front and 245/35R18 rear tires have a lower 40 series front and 35 series rear profile than the Beetle’s optional 45 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the 230i has standard 17-inch wheels. Smaller 16-inch wheels are standard on the Beetle S.

Changing a flat tire near traffic can be dangerous and inconvenient. The run-flat tires standard on the 2 Series can be driven up to 50 miles without any air pressure, allowing you to drive to a service station for a repair. The Beetle doesn’t offer run-flat tires.

Suspension and Handling

The 2 Series has standard front and rear gas-charged shocks for better control over choppy roads. The Beetle’s suspension doesn’t offer gas-charged shocks.

The 2 Series offers an optional driver-adjustable suspension system. It allows the driver to choose between an extra-supple ride, reducing fatigue on long trips, or a sport setting, which allows maximum control for tricky roads. The Beetle’s suspension doesn’t offer adjustable shock absorbers.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the 2 Series’ wheelbase is 5.8 inches longer than on the Beetle (105.9 inches vs. 100.1 inches).

The M240i Coupe xDrive handles at .94 G’s, while the Beetle Coupe pulls only .84 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.

Passenger Space

The 2 Series Coupe has 4.9 cubic feet more passenger volume than the Beetle Coupe (90 vs. 85.1). The 2 Series Convertible has .3 cubic feet more passenger volume than the Beetle Convertible (81.7 vs. 81.4).

The 2 Series Coupe has .7 inches more front headroom, .2 inches more front legroom, 1.6 inches more rear legroom and 4.4 inches more rear shoulder room than the Beetle Coupe.

The 2 Series Convertible has 1.2 inches more front headroom, .2 inches more front legroom and .4 inches more rear legroom than the Beetle Convertible.

Cargo Capacity

The 2 Series Convertible has a much larger trunk with its top down than the Beetle Convertible (9.9 vs. 7.1 cubic feet). The 2 Series Convertible has a much larger trunk with its top up than the Beetle Convertible (11.8 vs. 7.1 cubic feet).

With its coupe or convertible body style, valet key, locking rear seatbacks and remote trunk release lockout, the 2 Series offers cargo security. The Beetle’s non-lockable folding seat and non-lockable remote release defeat cargo security.

Servicing Ease

The 2 Series uses gas struts to support the hood for easier service access. The Beetle uses a prop rod to support its heavy hood. It takes two hands to open the hood and set the prop rod, the prop rod gets in the way during maintenance and service, and the prop rod could be knocked out, causing the heavy hood to fall on the person maintaining or servicing the car.

The engine in the 2 Series is mounted longitudinally (North-South), instead of sideways, as in the Beetle. This makes it easier to service and maintain, because the accessory belts are in front.

Ergonomics

When two different drivers share the 2 Series, the memory system makes it convenient for both. Each setting activates different, customized memories for the driver’s seat position, outside mirror angle, climate settings and radio stations. The Beetle doesn’t offer a memory system.

If the front windows are left open on the 2 Series w/Comfort Access the driver can close them at the outside door handle. On a hot day the driver can lower the windows from a distance using the keyless remote. The driver of the Beetle can only operate the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.

In case of a sudden change of weather, the 2 Series offers an optional remote convertible top that can be raised from a distance to protect the interior of the vehicle from damage. The Beetle doesn’t offer a remote top, so the driver will have to run to the car, get in, turn the ignition on and raise the top to prevent the interior from being damaged.

The 2 Series’ rain-sensitive wipers adjust their speed and turn on and off automatically based on the amount of rainfall on the windshield. This allows the driver to concentrate on driving without constantly adjusting the wipers. The Beetle S’ standard manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.

In poor weather, headlights can lose their effectiveness as grime builds up on their lenses. This can reduce visibility without the driver realizing. The 2 Series offers available headlight washers to keep headlight output high. The Beetle doesn’t offer headlight washers.

The 2 Series has a standard automatic headlight on/off feature. When the ignition is on, the headlights automatically turn on at dusk and off after dawn. The Beetle only offers an automatic headlight on/off feature as an extra cost option.

While driving with high beams on, sensitive light sensors available for the 2 Series detect other vehicles which could be blinded and automatically switch to low beams. The Beetle doesn’t offer automatic dimming high beams.

To help drivers avoid possible obstacles, the 2 Series offers optional cornering lights to illuminate around corners when the turn signals are activated. The Beetle doesn’t offer cornering lights. The 2 Series also offers optional adaptive headlights to illuminate around corners automatically by reading vehicle speed and steering wheel angle.

When the 2 Series is put in reverse, the passenger rearview mirror tilts from its original position. This gives the driver a better view of the curb during parallel parking maneuvers. Shifting out of reverse puts the mirror into its original position. The Beetle’s mirror doesn’t automatically adjust for backing.

The 2 Series offers optional automatic dimming rear and side view mirrors which automatically darken quickly when headlights shine on them, keeping following vehicles from blinding or distracting the driver. The Beetle offers an automatic rear view mirror, but its side mirrors don’t dim.

On extremely cold winter days, the 2 Series’ optional heated steering wheel provides comfort, allowing the driver to steer safely and comfortably before the car heater warms up. The Beetle doesn’t offer a heated steering wheel.

The 2 Series has a standard center folding armrest for the rear passengers. A center armrest helps make rear passengers more comfortable. The Beetle doesn’t offer a rear seat center armrest.

The 2 Series has a standard dual zone air conditioning allows the driver and front passenger to choose two completely different temperatures so people with different temperature preferences won’t have to compromise. This makes both the driver and front passenger as comfortable as possible. Dual zone air conditioning is only available on the Beetle SE/SEL.

Both the 2 Series and the Beetle offer rear vents. For greater rear passenger comfort, the 2 Series has standard rear air conditioning vents to keep rear occupants cool in summer or warm in winter. The Beetle doesn’t offer rear air conditioning vents, only heat vents.

To keep a safe, consistent following distance, the 2 Series Auto offers an optional Active Cruise Control, which alters the speed of the vehicle without driver intervention. This allows the driver to use cruise control more safely without constantly having to disengage it when approaching slower traffic. The Beetle doesn’t offer an adaptive cruise control.

The 2 Series’ standard steering wheel mounted cruise control is close at hand. The Beetle’s standard cruise control is on an over-crowded turn signal stalk.

To quickly and conveniently keep personal devices charged without cables tangling and wearing out, the BMW 2 Series offers an optional wireless phone charging system (Qi) in the center console. The Beetle doesn’t offer wireless personal charging.

The 2 Series’ optional Parking Assistant can parallel park by itself, with the driver only controlling speed with the brake pedal. The Beetle doesn’t offer an automated parking system.

Economic Advantages

The 2 Series will cost the buyer less in the long run because of its superior resale value. The IntelliChoice estimates that the 2 Series will retain 47.46% to 51.69% of its original price after five years, while the Beetle only retains 40.49% to 41.25%.

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the 2 Series is less expensive to operate than the Beetle because typical repairs cost much less on the 2 Series than the Beetle, including $53 less for a muffler, $134 less for a fuel pump, $25 less for front struts and $358 less for a power steering pump.

Recommendations

Consumer Reports® recommends the BMW 2 Series, based on reliability, safety and performance.

J.D. Power and Associates rated the 2 Series second among small premium cars in owner reported satisfaction. This includes how well the vehicle performs and satisfies its owner’s expectations. The Beetle isn’t in the top three in its category.

The M235i/M240i was chosen as one of Car and Driver’s “Top Ten” for 3 of the last 5 years. The Beetle has never been a Car and Driver “Top Ten” pick.

The 2 Series was chosen as one of Automobile Magazine’s “All Stars” in 2015. The Beetle hasn’t been picked since 2000.

© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.

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