My connection with Volkswagen and the Beetle go back to 1972 when I bought what we would call today a Vintage 1965. It was a pretty rough looking car, but it was probably one of the most reliable cars I ever owned, and the foundation that built Volkswagen today into one of the largest auto makers in the world.
The second generation of what I still call the “New Beetle” is roughly similar mechanically to the Jetta and Golf lines. The rest of the car is reminiscent of the vintage Beetle. Now if you are wondering about its connection with the first New Beetle, the new car is much better in all respects. First off, the styling is more evocative of the vintage Beetle with the flatter but slightly rounder-looking roof giving more head room in the back seat – something the first generation new Beetle lacked. Also, the trunk room appears to be bigger, and is a big plus if you have to carry things with you.
The car I was given to test was the “Classic Beetle” in the Beetle line-up. This car is a little different than the other cars in the line, as it has alloy wheels that look like the old steel wheels on the old air-cooled Beetles. These wheels even have little hubcaps to add to the vintage look. Another item that makes this car appear a little different is the rear spoiler mounted beneath the back window adding better aerodynamics to the Beetles rounded shape.
First thing you will see opening the door of the Beetle is the interesting two tone cloth and leatherette seats. The checked beige/brown cloth is interesting; during the time I had the car, people’s feelings were mixed as to its appearance. To my surprise, the front seats are quite comfortable and hold you quite well in spirited during driving. Due to its classic looks, the vehicle is just a four-seater, which means the back is only for two.
The dash styling is indicative of the vintage Beetle with a binnacle housing a large speedometer with a small Tachometer and fuel gauge on either side. All other controls are close at hand on the dash and simple to use.
Power for this Beetle is the 1.8L double overhead cam in line 4-cylinder turbo charged engine with 170 hp and a very healthy 184 lb. ft. of torque. This pulls the 1350 kg quite well, and it impressed me even on steep grades. My test car was equipped with the 6-speed tiptronic automatic, similar to what the Porsche had a few years back. This combination gives the car a good pull and makes it very responsive in city traffic of which I spend most of my time during testing.
If you’re the travelling type, the Beetle has just under a half cubic meter of storage space in the hatch area, which is better than its processor. Now, with rear seatbacks folded flat, the usable storage space goes up to about 0.8 of a cubic meter which is good for a car with an odd shape like this.
Having been a little disappointed with the last “New Beetle”, I have to say I didn’t know what to expect with this car. I really like the shape and styling of the new model. Power and handling in this car were much better than I expected.
In conclusion, I have to say I enjoyed my time with the latest rendition of the Beatle. Like the vintage models that I owned, there is not a lot of cargo room, but that’s really not a problem for me. What I really like about this car is the looks. It has captured more of the vintage Beetle look, which makes it very different than other cars on the market today.