2020 BMW 4 Series Convertible vs. 2019 Volkswagen Beetle

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

The 4 Series Convertible 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 4 Series Convertible offers all-wheel drive to maximize traction under poor conditions, especially in ice and snow. The Beetle doesn’t offer all-wheel drive.

The 4 Series Convertible’s 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 4 Series Convertible offers an optional Side and Top View Cameras to allow the driver to see objects all around the vehicle on a screen. The Beetle only offers a rear monitor and rear parking sensors that beep or flash a light. That doesn’t help with obstacles to the front or sides.

Both the 4 Series Convertible 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, blind spot warning systems, rearview cameras and rear cross-path warning.

The BMW 4 Series Convertible weighs 798 to 1283 pounds more than the Volkswagen Beetle. The NHTSA advises that heavier cars are much safer in collisions than their significantly lighter counterparts.

Warranty

The 4 Series Convertible 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 4 Series Convertible’s corrosion warranty is 2 years longer than the Beetle’s (12 vs. 10 years).

BMW pays for scheduled maintenance on the 4 Series Convertible 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 4 Series Convertible is in the trunk, which protects it from hot underhood temperatures that can degrade battery life. By keeping the 4 Series Convertible’s battery 20 to 30 degrees cooler, its life is increased by years. The Beetle’s battery is in the hot engine compartment.

A reliable vehicle saves its owner time, money and trouble. Nobody wants to be stranded or have to be without a vehicle while it’s being repaired. Consumer Reports rates the 4 Series Convertible’s reliability 21 points higher than the Beetle.

J.D. Power and Associates rated the 4 Series Convertible first among compact 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 430i Convertible’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 440i Convertible’s standard 3.0 turbo 6 cyl. produces 146 more horsepower (320 vs. 174) and 146 lbs.-ft. more torque (330 vs. 184) than the Beetle’s 2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

Fuel Economy and Range

Regenerative brakes improve the 4 Series Convertible’s 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 4 Series Convertible’s 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.

The 4 Series Convertible has 1.3 gallons more fuel capacity than the Beetle (15.8 vs. 14.5 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups.

Transmission and Drivetrain

An eight-speed automatic is standard on the BMW 4 Series Convertible, 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 4 Series Convertible, 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.

Brakes and Stopping

For better stopping power the 4 Series Convertible’s brake rotors are larger than those on the Beetle:

430i

440i

Beetle

Front Rotors

13 inches

13.4 inches

11.3 inches

Rear Rotors

11.8 inches

13 inches

10 inches

The 4 Series Convertible’s 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.

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the 4 Series Convertible has larger standard tires than the Beetle (225/45R18 vs. 215/55R17).

The 4 Series Convertible’s standard tires provide better handling because they have a lower 45 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Beetle S’ standard 60 series tires. The 4 Series Convertible’s optional 225/40R19 front and 255/35R19 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 4 Series Convertible has standard 18-inch wheels. Smaller 16-inch wheels are standard on the Beetle S. The 4 Series Convertible’s optional 19-inch wheels are larger than the 18-inch wheels optional on the Beetle.

Changing a flat tire near traffic can be dangerous and inconvenient. The run-flat tires standard on the 4 Series Convertible 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 4 Series Convertible 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 4 Series Convertible offers an available 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 4 Series Convertible’s wheelbase is 10.5 inches longer than on the Beetle (110.6 inches vs. 100.1 inches).

For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the 4 Series Convertible is 1.6 inches wider in the rear than on the Beetle.

Chassis

The 4 Series Convertible’s standard power retractable hardtop allows a seamless transition from an open car, to a completely sealed coupe. The Beetle doesn’t offer a retractable hardtop.

Passenger Space

The 4 Series Convertible has 8.6 cubic feet more passenger volume than the Beetle Convertible (90 vs. 81.4).

Cargo Capacity

The 4 Series Convertible has a larger trunk with its top down than the Beetle Convertible (7.8 vs. 7.1 cubic feet). The 4 Series Convertible has a much larger trunk with its top up than the Beetle Convertible (13.1 vs. 7.1 cubic feet).

A low lift-over trunk design makes loading and unloading the 4 Series Convertible easier. The 4 Series Convertible’s trunk lift-over height is 26.2 inches, while the Beetle’s liftover is 27.9 inches.

To make loading groceries and cargo easier when your hands are full, the 4 Series Convertible’s available trunk can be opened just by kicking your foot under the back bumper, leaving your hands completely free. The Beetle doesn’t offer a hands-free gesture to open its trunk, forcing you to put cargo down if your hands are full.

Servicing Ease

The 4 Series Convertible 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 4 Series Convertible 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 4 Series Convertible, 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.

The 4 Series Convertible offers an optional heads-up display that projects speed and other key instrumentation readouts in front of the driver’s line of sight, allowing drivers to view information without diverting their eyes from the road. The Beetle doesn’t offer a heads-up display.

If the windows are left open on the 4 Series Convertible the driver can close them all at the outside door handle. On a hot day the driver can lower the windows at the outside door handle or 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.

The 4 Series Convertible’s 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.

While driving with high beams on, sensitive light sensors available for the 4 Series Convertible 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 see further while navigating curves, the 4 Series Convertible offers optional adaptive headlights to illuminate around corners automatically by reading vehicle speed and steering wheel angle. The Beetle doesn’t offer cornering lights.

When the 4 Series Convertible 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 4 Series Convertible has standard 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.

The 4 Series Convertible 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 4 Series Convertible and the Beetle offer rear vents. For greater rear passenger comfort, the 4 Series Convertible 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 4 Series Convertible 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 4 Series Convertible’s 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 4 Series offers an optional wireless phone charging system (Qi) in the center console. The Beetle doesn’t offer wireless personal charging.

The 4 Series Convertible’s optional Parking Assistant can parallel park or back into a parking spot by itself, with the driver only controlling speed with the brake pedal. The Beetle doesn’t offer an automated parking system.

Model Availability

The BMW 4 Series comes in coupe, convertible and four-door hatchback bodystyles; the Volkswagen Beetle isn’t available as a four-door.

Economic Advantages

The 4 Series Convertible will cost the buyer less in the long run because of its superior resale value. The IntelliChoice estimates that the 4 Series Convertible will retain 45.78% to 47.7% 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 4 Series Convertible is less expensive to operate than the Beetle because typical repairs cost less on the 4 Series Convertible than the Beetle, including $140 less for a fuel pump and $182 less for a power steering pump.

Recommendations

The 4 Series Convertible was chosen as one of Car and Driver’s “Top Ten” in 2014. The Beetle has never been a Car and Driver “Top Ten” pick.

The 4 Series Convertible was chosen as one of Automobile Magazine’s “All Stars” in 2014. The Beetle hasn’t been picked since 2000.

The BMW 4 Series outsold the Volkswagen Beetle by over two to one during 2018.

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

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