VW’s New Beetle soldiers on
Ah, the New Beetle. How little things change.
It’s not a bad thing; really, since it launched in 1998 it’s been through precious few modifications. For 2006, the coupe and convertible were slightly refreshed, with different front and rear bumpers, plus a new engine.
Originally designed and shown as the Concept 1, the New Beetle has had a hard go to match its forbearer, the ubiquitous Beetle. But a production car true to the Concept 1’s raison d’etre, funky styling, and interesting features, certainly helped buyers fall in love with the modern New Beetle.
For 2008, the lineup has been simplified to reflect the reduction of engine options, and starts at a reasonable $22,775.
The one and only engine is VW’s wonderful 150-hp, 2.5-litre, 5-cylinder engine. It’s torquey and well-suited to both city and highway driving — although I hope a diesel will be available in the near future.
Options include several colours, and the choice of either a black or cream-coloured cloth or leather interior. If you’re scratching your head at the high price for its segment, keep in mind the New Beetle comes standard with air conditioning, tilt/telescopic steering wheel, AM/FM/CD player, variable-speed wipers, temperature display, ABS brakes with brake assist, trip computer, traction and stability control, alloy wheels, dual front airbags, dual side airbags, remote door locking, and security system.
The small number of options includes a six-speed automatic transmission for $1,400, the Comfortline package (sunroof, tinted glass, fog lights, alloy wheels) for $1,660, the Highline package (sunroof, tinted glass, fog lights, alloy wheels, leather-wrapped steering wheel, leather-wrapped gear knob, perforated leather seats) for $2,920, and Sirius satellite radio for $450.
If you’re a little more extroverted beyond painting your New Beetle in bright yellow, there’s always the $27,795 convertible model. The standard features list is pretty much identical to the coupe, as are the options. The only difference is the Comfortline option package costs a little less, at $1,475 — and the Highline package a little more, at $2,995.
Just note that each option package adds semi-power electric folding capability to the soft top. Otherwise, it’s up to you to provide the muscle when it starts to rain and the top needs to come up.
In all, the New Beetle is just as cheeky and charming as it was in 1998, and with an updated powertrain and looks it’s still an interesting economy car choice.
Of course, it’s not for everyone. But how many people can lay claim to owning a modern classic?
2008 Volkswagen New Beetle