By on July 6, 2007

vw_specials_01.jpgThere are only two reasons why anyone would buy a New Beetle convertible: a craving for cute or a need for nostalgia. Once you rule out these emotional drivers (so to speak), you're far better off in any number of more economical and practical machines. But that's OK, isn't it? Acquiring a Ferrari isn't exactly a rational decision. So analyzing the New Beetle's desirability comes down to this: does it suck enough to put off the retro- fashionistas?

The New Beetle's (NB) exterior remains unchanged since the model's '06 refresh. Pedants will immediately note that our Triple White special edition tester has a black convertible top. The top's cover– a fundamentally useless bag that encloses the lid when it's in the open pram position– justifies the moniker.

Drop-top notwithstanding, the NB remains as perkily rounded as ever. As the design approaches its tenth anniversary, I'm sure its admirers are ready to pronounce it iconic. Me? Not so much. At best, the NB is inoffensively attractive in a boy-band-loving heart-doodling sweet-sixteen sort of way.

vw_specials_15.jpgUnlike the re-Germanized VW Rabbit/Golf, the NB remains resolutely ‘hecho en Mexico.' Its interior offers occupants the usual low rent mariachi medley of nice looking, cheap feeling plastic. In fact, the NB's materials and fit and finish are to the GTI/Rabbit's what a wool scarf is to a cashmere Pashmina. How much does this car cost again?

The NB's price may not be out of reach for its target market, but its switchgear is. Thanks to a disproportionately large dash, no matter what control my fingers sought, I had to stretch that extra uncomfortable inch to attain it. And when my digits arrived at their destination, the NB's nasty switch snickery and imprecise button pokery played like a toy piano.

Though lacking in lumbar adjustment, the NB's seats are comfy and supportive. Unfortunately, with the lid flipped, the warm leatherette seems to melt on your burning flesh. (Back sweat. Gack!) With the top up, and the flattened roofline renders the backseat inaccessible to all but masochistic Romanian gymnasts. On the positive side, the NB's backseat doubles as cargo space, and the trunk is larger than you'll find in most convertibles.

vw_specials_04.jpgFire-up the NB's engine and savor the roar of the diesel… wait… gas-fired 2.5-liter five. Lidless at low to moderate speeds, the powerplant's sonic strain eclipses any chance of blissing with the birds and bees. With an erected hood, the NB packs silence all around.

All that noise provides very little in the way of motivation. Pitted against 3200 lbs., the mill's 150hp and 170 ft.-lbs. of torque isn't… enough… to… get a move on. Whacking the NB's six-speed manumatic tranny helps the hunt for power, but even at full chat, the New Beetle Convertible remains irredeemably fat and obstinately lazy.  

Guide the NB onto a twisty piece of tarmac and the drop top's lofty price tag begins to make some kind of sense. The Beetle's superb suspension, touchy yet powerful brakes and safe, predictable handling bring on the happy whilst carving corners. Punch the NB's throttle and the fun stops– if indeed it ever got started. Unless you're driving downhill, all the McPherson struts and stabilizer bars in the world can't make this A-platformed bug boogie.

vw_specials_02.jpgLike many German cabrios, the NB's thick A-pillars serve as a roll-bar– which is just as well given their effect on visibility. Should the emergency braking assist, ABS, traction control and safety-oriented handling fail, a pop-up roll bar and a slew of airbags will save your Speck.

Minus a few hundred pounds, plus a few ponies, the NB would provide serious hoonage. Or, if we're being demographically correct, a little extra oomph would summon more of that traditional VW virtue called "fun."  A brief look at the engine compartment reveals a stunning amount of unused space. Why VW hasn't thrown a bigger engine in the NB's nose is beyond me.

Did I say bigger? How about "more powerful and efficient." If you consider the fact that the similarly priced current gen GTI's four-cylinder 2.0-liter turbo stables more horse AND gets better mileage than the NB's miserable lump, you gotta wonder if the NBTW should have been called the NBMFW (New Beetle Miami Fashion Victim).

vw_specials_26.jpgAt $26,630, the Triple White New Beetle Convertible is no bargain. For less money, a style-conscious sun seeker could purchase a better driver's car (Mazda MX-5), a genuine show stopper (Pontiac Solstice) or split the difference (MINI convertible). This is, of course, exactly what tens of thousands of sensible American car buyers have done, and will continue to do– especially when they consider VW's atrocious reliability record.

In fact, the only buyer who'd be happy in a NBTW is someone who really, really wants one. While it's hard to understand the urge, you gotta admire their dedication.

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78 Comments on “Triple White New Beetle Convertible Review...”


  • avatar

    awesome, VW can’t even do triple white correctly anymore…

    VW cabriolets have always gotten the most anemic engine possible though, that’s par for the course.

  • avatar
    yournamehere

    my mother had a NB drop top and it fits her needs perfectly. she is in her early 40s, and uses it to go to work and run errands. she loves it. and as all convertible owners know…everything is better topless. this car was never meant to be a GTI. she gets high 20s at the pump which is a nice bump over her old Touareg. On long trips they take my dads Jetta TDI (48mpg). As for me…I enjoy my GTI, 2.0T and 6spd manual. But for what my mom asks the NB to do it fulfills it perfectly. (and after 8k miles 100% reliably)

    It sounds like you should have taken an Eos out for a ride.

  • avatar
    AKM

    Maybe it’s my European side, but I can’t help getting upset every time I hear someone complaining that 150hp is not enough, and that a 0-60 time of 8 seconds or so is slow. How many people actually use the power of those engines? Geez, my 60hp 1989 Fiat Uno carried me all over small winding Irish roads more than fast enough (Granted, the car weighed less than 1,900lb, but still). This said, and as you pointed out, the 2.5 5-cyl is not a good engine…
    Beside that, spot-on review. I don’t get the point of getting a New Beetle when you can more car for less money, like its platform donor the Golf, which also has a much nicer interior.

  • avatar
    GS650G

    I thought they had a niche when they first came out, now the car is stereotyped as a “chick car
    ” or worse. It does have a lot of head room (no pun intended) but beyond the 60′s retro look why own one?

    VW could put diesels in these things and try and sell them as economy masters but the crowd that buys them waves the global warming flag so that’s out. maybe an electric beetle, that sounds like a plan.

  • avatar
    starlightmica

    Previous model years had the spiffy 2.0L turbo, but I forget why VW dropped it. Cost?

    I suppose the NBTW could be the official car of Cute Overload.

  • avatar
    gfen

    Previous NBs came with one of the following engines:
    The base 2.0l, 115HP. A TDI diesel good for either 90 or 100HP. A turbo 1.8 for 150 (this was the “Turbo Beetle”). A turbo 1.8 good for 180hp (the “Turbo-S”). ‘Verts came with either the 2.0 or the 150hp 1.8t.

    The 2.5l has, on paper, 150HP but evidently lots of people who dyno ‘em in Rabbits and Jettas claim 166HP. THen, I read it on the Internet, so take that for what its worth.

    I have not driven a ‘vert Beetle nor a 2.5l Beetle, but I do know that the old 2.0l 115HP model was more than enough to put a smile on my face, and my wife absolutely cried when we had to trade it in.

    That is why people buy them. Because they’re more than cars. They’re something special.

    Now, in dealing with the last model, I saw very little difference in the interiors between the NB, the Golf, or the GTI that we’d owned. Perhaps there was some great leap forward, but from what I understand the mk5 VWs have less interior quality than the mk4, so at that I just have to wonder if people are finding reasons to not like the car because its “cute” or some other bizarre reason.

    Fortunatly, for you folks there’s Miatas and Minis, and you can have ‘em. When the kids are big enough to strap themselves in, I look forward to introducing them to another New Beetle. I guess my family drank the Kool Aid, but I’m perfectly fine with that.

  • avatar
    Blunozer

    “Triple White?”

    I guess “2.3 White” would be closer to the truth.

    Even the most superficial and fashion conscious would go for the more trendy MINI cabrio over this passe thing. The New Beetle Cabrio is about as cool as “mom jeans” or “hammer pants”.

    Lousy reliability, awful interior, ugly exterior, and a powertrain that is neither thrifty nor powerful…

    This car simply has NO reason to exist. 2 out of 5 stars seems INCREDIBLY generous.

  • avatar

    I actually have driven one of these myself, and have to respectfully disagree with parts of this review, (and agree with AKM’s comment above.)

    I was in Miami both on business, and to see my son off on his student exchange to Chile last winter… I had reserved a convertible with the rental car agency. We stumbled bleary-eyed into the parking lot after a red-eye flight from the Pacific Northwest. The rental agency guy said “just go out and pick one!” We were confronted by a row of convertibles:
    Sebring, PT Cruiser, Pt Cruiser, PT Cruiser, New Beetle, PT Cruiser, & PT Cruiser. My son and I looked at each other and said “The Bug”…. we were after all… in Miami.

    I have driven a New Beetle before, as my family had one from 99 until last year. I found the Cab to be quite peppy and fun to drive… much more peppy than my wife’s old New Beetle ever was. After my son flew off later that night I had to drive halfway up Florida and back. I got on the freeway and proceeded to drive the Beetle drop-top like I was on the Autobahn. I had to open the hood and count spark plugs (five… one more than our old one) to confirm what I suspected.

    Yes, I would not want to enter this car at Le Mans, and the body roll in very tight corners was, while better than most cabs, was still more than a coupe, so this is not an autocross car by any stretch… BUT. For zipping about, top down with a grin on your face? Can’t be beat

    As a wise man once said: “There is great joy to be found in driving slow cars fast.”

    Among “slow” cars that are fun, the New Beetle is at the top of the range, both faster than your average slow car, and more fun than most.

    –chuck

  • avatar
    NICKNICK

    If I recall, last generation’s TT was described on TTAC as having an “entirely flappable suspension.” The last Golf was likened by Farago to Shrimp and Cassava (ummmm). Then the NB was called a surprisingly competent corner carver. And the NBTW is now said to have supurb suspension. These cars are all on the same platform, and the TT ought to be the best with all the aluminum bits…

    AKM: I use all 180 of my HP every day and I am constantly wanting for more. With short passing zones and tricky on-ramps with cognitively disabled mergers, you almost can’t have enough power. 0-60 is somewhat important, i guess, but I worry more about 60-90. If I drove a 60hp anything, I’d be dead by now. FWIW my car weighs 2750lbs. It needs 300hp. The only good part is that it sounds nice at WOT at redline.

    Blunozer: Hammer pants are awesome.

  • avatar

    I never got the free pass people give VW on the flimsy, counter-intuitive interiors it puts on its lower end cars.

    It’s nice to see TTAC is summarily putting an end to that.

  • avatar
    Sajeev Mehta

    AKM: if you haven’t already, come visit Texas sometime. The sheer amount of paved roads will blow you away…and you’ll quickly realize why so many Americans demand bigger motors to effortlessly cover large distances.

    Nice review, Megan.

  • avatar

    NICKNICK:

    If I recall, last generation’s TT was described on TTAC as having an “entirely flappable suspension.” The last Golf was likened by Farago to Shrimp and Cassava (ummmm). Then the NB was called a surprisingly competent corner carver.

    Contrary to popular belief, TTAC is not a monolithic enterprise run by a monomaniacal maniac. (Flash dance that!) Megan, like all our reviewers, is free to call it like she sees it.

    Besides, this wouldn’t be the first case where similar underpinnings yield different results.

  • avatar
    NICKNICK

    “…monomaniacal maniac. (Flash dance that!)”

    Like the Shrimp and Cassava comment, the flash dance joke didn’t make sense right away–and then it did…right when I was supposed to be serious I picture Chris Farley, gasoline, and a NBTW. You’re going to get me fired, Robert, but at least I’ll be laughing all the way to the door.

  • avatar
    fellswoop

    As I’ve posted on the other NB review here on TTAC, I’m the proud owner of a 2002 NB Turbo S, with the 6 speed manual and 1.8 turbo engine putting out 180hp/180′-lbs. I’ve not chipped it yet (the chip game for the engine is totally sorted, and will immediately bring on 200hp & >200′/lbs)but after 1 year of driving it has been an absolute hoot. When “chippin’ time” comes, its about 5 bills for all that extra juice, and all the suspension bits for the NB’s GTI brethren fit just fine.

    My GF and I LOVE this car. It handles great, its comfy, even un-modded the engine is torqualiscious and is great away from lights and on the highway. For MPG We get low 20′s in town, and about 30 on the highway, driving in a manner that ensures we are never passed, anywhere (thank you V1.)

    With the rear seats folded down, there is 27 cubic feet of storage space through the hatch. Lots of interesting junk fits back there no problems. With the big ass windows and sunroof, its like a convertible, without any of that impracticality. Front wheel drive, ABS & traction control made it great in the snow.

    Since 75% of folks think its a girl/homosexual car, theft rates are low, (I hate 75% of people anyway, and BTW, FU) and the looks on peoples faces when they get blown away by a GTI with a cool/different body are priceless.

    Fun car. Everybody missed it.

  • avatar
    AKM

    AKM: if you haven’t already, come visit Texas sometime. The sheer amount of paved roads will blow you away…and you’ll quickly realize why so many Americans demand bigger motors to effortlessly cover large distances.

    How should I take that? i don’t come from mud country, thank you. Come visit Europe, and you’ll see that they cover great distances effortlessly with 130hp engines. Oh, and with speed limits much higher than American ones. Furthermore, once you cruise, the power of the engine matters less than the aerodynamics, and Texas pick-up trucks (and 300Cs) are famous for their aerodynamics, are they not?
    It’s really more a matter of driving smartly rather than depending entirely on an overpowered engine. Big engines are useful when
    - towing big loads
    - racing on the track

    For the rest, yes sure, it’s nice and fun to have one, but let’s not pretend we need them.

  • avatar
    Pelle Schultz

    I never got the free pass people give VW on the flimsy, counter-intuitive interiors it puts on its lower end cars.

    The interior of my wife’s ’05 (last-gen) GTI (

  • avatar
    Pelle Schultz

    Cut off. I love cut-rate html editors.

    shames that of anything from Japan or the US that’s comparable (and 99% of those in cars that cost twice as much, which in this case would be 40K USD). It’s arguable whether this is a lower-end interior, but it’s cloth (1.8T) and has a lot more in common with the same era’s Golf than the Passat or more expensive models. Better materials, design, and–brace yourselves for TTAC’s favorite buzzword–’haptic’ qualities.

    I will agree–the 2.5L five in VW’s entry level models is loud and unrefined.

  • avatar
    GEMorris

    TTAC also said the R32 was amazing and the TT Quattro wasn’t all that, funny since they are basically the same car.

    My MKIV Golf TDI interior is best in class, you show me any car with that nice of an interior for the same cash.

    The NBs have always been a small step down in terms of interior quality, guess since america is the primary market VW thought it would be ok.

    150hp is plenty. The 90hp/150ftlbs gets my MKIV golf moving, and the 160 in my wife’s Mazda3 is more than enough to get me into trouble.

    Also, I think reviewers are a bit too easy on VW’s suspension. The A-Platform cars all have a tendency to understeer heavily unless you remove the front sway and add a rear one. A shine suspension kit completely transforms the car however, and that’s only $1k

  • avatar
    Steve Biro

    “Samir Syed:
    July 6th, 2007 at 10:14 am

    I never got the free pass people give VW on the flimsy, counter-intuitive interiors it puts on its lower end cars.”

    You’ve got that right. And it’s not just the New Beetle. The switchgear in the latest standard Rabbit (not sure about GTI) could have come straight out of a Chevy Cobalt. I’m not kidding.

  • avatar
    NoneMoreBlack

    It looks like there’s some incipient point-missing going on here. The NB may be a decent car, a fine one, etc, but any car taken entirely in isolation can be justified. For NB money (especially TW) you can get, as the review points out, alot of car. Hell, it’s a stone’s throw from a base Eos. The opportunity cost of that retro effluvium body is enormous.

  • avatar
    Sajeev Mehta

    Come visit Europe, and you’ll see that they cover great distances effortlessly with 130hp engines.

    I have and (to be frank) they don’t.

    For the rest, yes sure, it’s nice and fun to have one, but let’s not pretend we need them.

    Agreed. But Texas has the land and I have money to satisfy my wants (not needs) for a 300hp Lincoln.

  • avatar
    Megan Benoit

    The NBTW weighs over 3200 lbs. Rotund *and* porky. Those 150hp don’t go far when your car weighs more than a LGT. Perhaps it’s adequate for some people (old ladies and such) but when you compare it to the MX5 and Mini convertible, it’s seriously wanting. When you realize how much you’re paying for it, you’ll think twice.

  • avatar
    SherbornSean

    Good review. I think I read somewhere that VW was upping the HP on the 2.5 to 170 this fall. Doubt it will help. The 2.0T would be a much better answer.

  • avatar
    jerseydevil

    I also disagree with parts of this review. My golf has about 100 hp on regular, and it is fast enough to get me in all sorts of trouble. It can hop to it on the on ramps, thrill me on the curvy bits, and cruise comfortably at 90 all day. 180HP? OK by me, but premium gas is expensive. Go faster? Of course, but why? The NB is at least as much about show as go, and truthfully, around here, the average speed of all my driving, is about 30 mph – hardly a reason to need more power.

    I like this little car, it does what it says it will do – get u from point a to b with a little style, and god forbid – a smile. Much like the Miata and the Mini Cooper.

  • avatar
    gfen

    The curb weight of my own Golf TDI-PD is 2972#. The 100HP do a more than efficent enough job of pulling it around, included on entrace ramps and highway passing.

    I guess I must be an old lady, then, as I have no interest in driving a Legacy GT (the only vehicle you seem to fall back on, repeatedly, in almost every comment you make). Wait, no.. I just checked, I qualify as “and such.” I’ll let the wife know she’s an old lady, though, as she has 0% interest in Minis or Miatas.

    The other benefit of a VW New Beetle is the ridiculous amounts of front headroom. At 6’4, I don’t easily fit into every car; the NB, with sunroof, affords me room for not only myself sitting bolt upright, but a hat as well.

  • avatar
    jerseydevil

    Sajeev Mehta:

    I was not aware that you need more horsepower if you want to cover long distances. I thought horsepower was for getting to speed a little faster, and greatly exceeding the speed limit. Neither of which is of any interest to me, regardless of the distance traveled.

  • avatar
    AKM

    As a matter of fact, horsepower is detrimental to distance covered, as it increases consumption.
    Oh well, I guess for some it’s better to drive 100 miles at 75 mph with a 300hp car than to drive 150 miles at 130mph with a 130hp car….

  • avatar
    gfen

    Just one last comment.. I went and did some 2007 price checking, and it would appear that:
    Triple White: 26,000 (with AT, 150hp).
    NB Convertable: 22,250 (with AT, 150hp).
    Mini Convertbale: 23,400 (with AT, 115hp).
    Mini-S COnvertable: 26,700 (with AT, 170hp).
    Miata: 23,000-25,750 (with AT, and I gave up caring about options coz there’s like multiple versions, so whatever).

    You’re also basing your opinion of the whole thing on the Triple White’s cost which is, in case you didn’t realize, a “special edition” on par with the “Farenheit GTI” or the “20th Anniversery GTI” of 2002 (not to be confused with things like the GTI R32 or GTI 337 which have more than cosmetic differences). The NB also shares teh same A platform and engines as countless other VWs and the incredible array of post-purchase modifications available (if thats your thing).

  • avatar
    Sajeev Mehta

    I was not aware that you need more horsepower if you want to cover long distances. I thought horsepower was for getting to speed a little faster, and greatly exceeding the speed limit. Neither of which is of any interest to me, regardless of the distance traveled.

    Long distance cruising is less about HP and more about big engines, big torque and tall gearing. HP comes into play, but that’s because its a function of torque. (mathematically speaking)

    That’s how you cover long distances effortlessly…be it a Beetle or a Buick.

  • avatar
    kestrel

    I’m with AKM on this one.
    My beater is a 3500 lbs minivan with 162 hp when my parents bought it 15 years ago. I’m sure it has lost some of that since I bought it from them, and yet, I have not come into any danger from lack of power even on the San Francisco Bay Area highways. Just because a car is slow doesn’t make it a bad car. And I don’t think VW is marketing the NB as an AutoX winner.

  • avatar
    vento97

    As someone who currently owns 3 VWs (5 total over 25 years) and as a former mechanic/current engineer, the reliability of cars has improved across the board over the years. The reliability of automobile owners however, has steadily gotten worse.

    Every VW I’ve owned has gone at least 200,000 miles (my 1987 Golf has gone 624,000 miles). The secret – they are properly MAINTAINED.

    30 plus years ago, the knowledge of properly maintaining the family car was a rite of passage passed from father to son (and in many cases, father to daughter). Back then, the average autombile owner knew how to change the oil, replace headlights, replace the air filter (I’ll give a mulligan on replacing the spark plugs, since the mid-1970s emission controls took up more room in the engine bay and made that task damn near impossible), etc.

    Nowadays in this age of convienience, entitlement, and electronic leashes (including the mind-control device called a bluetooth), if a light bulb goes out, today’s driver will go to the dealership, throw a fit, and constantly complain until the issue has been resolved. No wonder society is going soft these days…

  • avatar
    AKILEZ

    I agree everthing you said Sir Vento97.

    It is the owner of the car that really needs improvement not the car itself. VW is one of the best design “People’s Car” since WW2. My friend bought an old 76 beetle and installed a double weber carburator used by Ford Cortina U.K. and still on the road with 550,000 miles on the dash.

    Mexico City and Brazil still Manufacture the old VW and I think they still do and still very very popular with those countries. There is a Specialty Shop in Boston specializing in fixing VW and they are still around fixing Beetles.

    As I wrote before on this site that it is really the owner of the car not the car itself that needs Improvement and knowledge of simple car maintenance but we compain about how we can buy a faster and nice looking cars.

    But in fact all of them are reliable and descent.

    Look at the Philippine Jeepney they are still around after Willy’s stop making those jeeps.

  • avatar
    Megan Benoit

    gfen

    The NBTW is the same price as any similarly-specced NB convertible (leatherette, premium audio, etc). There was no premium for it, unlike the Farenheit GTI, where you were paying more for the rims, etc.

    I simply pointed out that a significantly larger, all-wheel-drive-equipped vehicle weighs less than the NBTW. I’m sorry that seems to upset you so much. I could look up the weights of more cars, but I think I’ve made my point. Look at the weights of the competition — it doesn’t take a lot of horsepower to move something like a Miata or Mini. You’re quoting straight horsepower numbers, which are very misleading as most of those vehicles weigh substantially less than the NB convertible. I’ve done the math, and for that price, that weight, and that power, you can do far better.

    If you like the NB, and it meets your standards, then good for you. Be glad you’re happy with your purchase because everyone I know with a NB hates the terrible reliability. But don’t pretend it’s a great deal, or that there isn’t better out there for less.

  • avatar
    NICKNICK

    jerseydevil:
    well, to each his own, i suppose.
    My average speed getting to work is 60mph with daily bursts, uh, beyond 60. yes, premium is expensive, but so is other gas. I drive a lot, so I burn 100 gallons a month. That means my premium surcharge is just $20/month. For a normal person, it would be around $5/month–NBD.

    If i lived where you did and averaged 30mph, i don’t think i’d give a hoot about HP, but torque is always nice.

  • avatar
    AKILEZ

    By the way Triple White means three type of white colors are combined to make a one great white color for this Beetle..

    the price of the car is high

    what do you expect for a German car?
    They’re always expensive to buy and fix

  • avatar
    stimpy

    Vento97,
    You must be an incredibly sharp guy with a scientific laboratory for a garage if you can fully maintain today’s cars. The last time I checked, VWs were getting reliability hits for poor electronics, funky engine management glitches, windows that fell out of their tracks, etc. etc. etc. Any moron can change his own car’s oil and replace its air filter, but that isn’t the thing that these cars are being nailed for by their owners and the automotive press. VWs poor reliability record is a result of sub-par manufacturing processes and oversight. That’s how Toyota consistently nails high reliability ratings and how similarly engineered Audis do far better. They have sweated the details endlessly in their manufacturing processes and it shows (well, only recently for Audi). VWs are at least as well engineered as other “good” cars – they are just poorly assembled. That’s why one guy can have one with no problems whatsoever, while another can be plagued with constant dealer visits. Ask 10 VW owners and 5 will love them, 5 loathe them.

  • avatar
    johnf514

    I understand that it’s a convertible, and therefore needs more bracing, more bits, and has a larger engine than it’s predecessor.

    But at 3200lbs, it weighs a quarter ton *MORE* than my Mazda3! And I have the same amount of horsepower, a generous backseat, and a boot with plenty of room!

    Lose the fat, NB.

  • avatar
    carguy

    With a heavy cast-iron low-tech for-the-USA-only engine up front and riding on the last generation Golf platform, this was never going to be a sports car. The NB is aimed at a demographic that doesn’t care that much about handling and performance and views it more as a fashion accessory that gets you from A to B. While it did that well in the past, fashions are fickle and more trendy options are now available to the fashion conscious car buyer. The NBs 70s hippie cred has all but run its course – this thing just screams EOL. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the NB was discontinued in the next couple of years.

  • avatar
    Sajeev Mehta

    VWs were getting reliability hits for poor electronics, funky engine management glitches, windows that fell out of their tracks, etc. etc. etc.

    That’s right stimpy, only a few of VWs problems have a direct correlation to proper upkeep. My friend’s Jetta went through more than one MAF sensor and window mechanisms.

    Even the engine sludging problem isn’t an owners fault, VW’s combination of long service intervals and premium gas (higher carbon, IIRC) makes it their fault.

  • avatar
    Mcloud1

    I have found the New Beetles to be nothing more than cheerleaders cars. it had its heyday back in 1998, but it is now becoming seriously dated and VW needs to either update it or drop it. I also agree with the review, The New beetle is too overpriced, and fro a whole lot less, you can get a Golf or go all out and get a GTi. or you can go outside of VW and get a Mini, or any one of the other more generic econoboxes, like the Corolla or Focus.

  • avatar
    AKILEZ

    Stimpy the guy is explaining his own experiences with the bug and because he own and still drive a
    beetle. Especially for an Engineer and Mechanic

    he is just being honest and that’s the fact.

    Every cars out there have their own manufacturing issues like falling windows etc etc and it always a problem.

    Don’t blame the Company who made and design the car blame the person who assembled the car.

    A Moron can never change oil because it says what that person is A Moron. Not all people can change oil or change a wiper blades or what size to fit on their wipers. because not all of you can drive and change oil. That is a fact.

  • avatar
    kjc117

    I saw this Beetle in the showroom while at the dealer for service couple of months ago and agree this is not worth the asking price.

    You have to really love this car or have special incentives to move these.

  • avatar
    GEMorris

    That the A-platform VW is a porker is not news. The Convertible NB is 250lbs heavier than my 4dr Golf TDI. I think 250lbs is an acceptable tradeoff for having an optional roof.

    Now the real question is, why is the base A platform so damn heavy. The answer is in your standard options list. As the VW comes with side impact airbags standard they are weighed. As the Mazda3 comes with side impact airbags as options, they are not weighed. This could account for quite a bit of weight discrepency. However the Mazda3/Volvo c30/s40/v50/Eurofocus platform is one of the best sorted platforms made to date that drew on the expertise of three different large automobile manufacturers. It has reason to be better.

  • avatar
    Martin Albright

    The whole New Beetle thing seems to me to be a great example of the triumph of form over substance. The old, original beetle was a success because it was simple, inexpensive and cute. The new beetle only hits one of these 3 points, and it is by far the least important one.

    I guess the good news about the NB is that because of the new beetle, high school girls stopped begging their daddies to buy them Jeep Wranglers (a la “Clueless.”)

    So any word on when VW is going to resurrect the old split-windshield VW bus? They can sell the “hippie edition” with the flowers and the peace signs already on it.

  • avatar
    dolo54

    I’m really amazed people are defending the low horsepower. I mean sure you don’t NEED it, but cmon, for that money you could get just about any car with more hp. I have a 96 teg which came in at about 150hp stock (I haven’t dynoed it lately) and that was never enough hp for me. Not that it can’t accelerate fast enough… It’s just I want more. Ok I’m a glutton. I’m not really satisfied until a car actually scares me (and I don’t scare easily). I’ve always thought the new beatles were really unpleasant looking. I like the old beatles, especially when converted to a dune buggy, but the new ones look like you’re trying too hard to be hip or something, like wearing a white belt. It’s not like you’re buying the car for anything BUT its looks, so I think that’s valid. And I’m sure a mechanic can keep a vw in running order, but look at any and I mean any 10-year-old jetta. Every panel on those cars is loose, falling off, or in the wrong place. Don’t know what’s going on under the hood, but I imagine it’s not good.

  • avatar
    geeber

    AKILEZ: Don’t blame the Company who made and design the car blame the person who assembled the car.

    Detroit tried that for decades, and look where it got them…

    Won’t work for VWs, either.

  • avatar
    Paul Niedermeyer

    What no one has pointed out about the NB Cabrio is that it gives much more true convertible feeling, because the windshield is so far forward. So many of today’s converts have very sloping windshields that practically meet your eye-brows (if you’re tall), and really impact the open air feeling. Folding hard-tops (EOS, etc.) are even worse for that.

    This is the NB Cabrio’s major redeeming quality, and it is not insignificant if you’re going to be driving top-down for considerable amount of time.

  • avatar
    Dr. No

    I dig this VW Bug and not from any LSD/nostalgia trip. I think the review was unduly harsh. The reliability described as “atrocius” is hyperbole. I do think a guy has to be a metrosexual to own one, but that doesn’t mean I can’t like it nonetheless.

    And another thing –the Pontiac Solstice ain’t no “show-stopper.” To these eyes, I cringed, whereas the Bug has a timeless, European design that bests the GM attempt at “cool.”

  • avatar
    Terry Parkhurst

    By almost any objective standard, the “new Beetle” is a much better car than any of the original ones; and this is coming from someone who owned a ’65 and a ’66 Beetle, albeit at different times.

    In the spring of 1998, I did a photo shoot of a ’98 Beetle with a ’67 Beetle, that a local VW salesman borrowed from someone in the service department of the dealership where he worked. I was allowed to drive the older car back to the store.

    It had been 18 years since I’d driven an old Beetle and when I hit the brakes, it was akin to stepping on a sponge; so I kept my foot on it, long and hard and almost kissed the inside of the windshield.

    The handling, with that twitchy rear tail was a bit of all right but made me glad we did not go out on the freeway to get back (from the park where we did the shoot).

    In 2002, I drove a turbo-Beetle and that’s what one should have, if that is available on the new convertible; but my hunch is that it is not. Convertibles are really about being seen and to be taken best advantage of in that regard, require a slow ride, just as in that old War song, “Lowrider.”

    Does it makes sense? Not really. But you have to ask yourself, then why do all manufacturers feel compelled to offer a convertible, as soon as they can?

  • avatar
    Steven Lang


    The convertible market has always served a more fashion conscious clientele. This New Beetle and the Cabrio of times past are classic examples of cars more focused on presence and cruising than on outirght sports car performance. For those seeking presence, uniqueness, and four seats, and could care less about sporting pretensions, this VW may be a candidate.

    In short, I think a lot of folks here are comparing apples to oranges because they want a sports oriented car. The roadster folks here who are looking at a car under 30k will have their eyes on a Miata, Solstice, Sky or even a Mini. The Beetle isn’t designed with that market in mind… which is one of the reasons why this car has received so many negative comments.

    I also don’t think it’s going to be cross shopped with those looking for a luxury cruiser. It doesn’t have the size or interior materials needed to make that work. The Beetle thankfully has avoided the executive stupidity that lead to the current Passat and the once lauded Phaeton.

    Muscle car convertible??? Not unless it gets a new engine implant and loses a few hundred pounds. There’s also that decades old issue that I call ‘VW/Audi Syndrome’. Most vehicles they sold right up to the mid-90’s were consistently underpowered and overpriced. This model continues that tradition… but there are other models over the years that have been far far worse.

    Again, this Beetle attracts those looking for a four seater which offers a bit of euro handling and a nicer shape than most of the luxury convertibles out there. This would actually be a do-able proposition if the Beetle was around the $22,000 price range. Unfortunately, with the Euro closing in on $1.40, this model is simply not economically viable.

    The only models it compares well to is the PT Cruiser… and that one is based on a plebian wagon that sells in the same price range as the Caliber. The internal gear is even cheaper and… how shall I put this… ah, yes. That car is ka-rap!

    I despise VW for their continued unwillingness to admit their mistakes with their new car offerings and in the used car market. It used to be that Passats commanded a premium over Camrys and Accords. Now they are flourishing in wholesale heaven thanks to the parent companies overall incompetence. It’s a shame because if there were any company at the turn of this century which had the chance to establish an affluent and young clientele, it was VW.

    They still offer some great niche vehicles but the mainstream for them has more or less become an upstream battle.

  • avatar
    Megan Benoit

    I will say that the same car with the 2.0T engine that’s in the GTI and made in Germany (i.e. with the fit and finish of the GTI) would probably garner more like 4 stars. VW could do better, they just choose not to and that is very sad.

  • avatar
    confused1096

    This is a classic ‘love it or hate it’ car. If you’re not totally smitten with the looks then you’ll spend your money (more wisely) elsewhere. I can’t see paying 26K for this thing. I can get a much better, larger car for that kind of outlay. When an economy car is at the same price point of a nicely equipped Altima…something’s not right.

    To put the NB’s mass in perspective: I drive a Crown Vic P71…that weighs only 7 or 800 pounds more than this car.

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    I will give them credit where credit is due….the VWNB is one of a handful of true four place convertibles that offer a manual transmission….the club includes the MINI, Mustang, 3-series, 9-3 and I believe the Eos. Slim pickings if you’re looking for a combination of value, room, fun-to-drive, safety, and reliability….

  • avatar
    tincanman99

    I never understood what the problem is with “cute” cars. Does it make you less of a man or something? Not every car needs to have 500 horsepower and be a muscle car. People need to understand this was not meant as performance car – its for cruising and general driving. If you want that go buy a Mustang GT.

    Personally I like little cars including the New Beetle and the Mini Cooper. I am of the opinion that in the US you either like em or you dont. Bottomline.

    As a sidenote I dont see the Mini Cooper being that affordable. I have visited the BMW dealer a few times. Can you say the word LIST PRICE and BMW charges you through the nose for any of the options that make the car look cool. Chrome bezels – $500 or whatever it was.

    BTW, the hood scoop on the new Mini Cooper is fake as the engine doesnt need it and it was put on because the last one had a supercharger. So much for form over function.

    As a side note people

  • avatar
    Mcloud1

    But look at how high the price is. For $26,000 I can buy a nicely equipped model of the new Ford Taurus, and get a huge trunk, huge interior, style, and a all around five star safety rating. What is the more logical choice?

  • avatar
    tankd0g

    I would love to know how these cars with no roll over protection are allowed to be sold but I can’t get a Mitsubiti Evo 6 in this country because it lacks some reinforment in the bumper.

  • avatar
    boredlawstudent

    Reliability issues on the NB are certainly not hyperbole; they are well documented by JDPOWER, CR and the many owners on vwvortex. The car is an embarrassment for VW.

  • avatar

    My wife’s 99 NB went 120,000 miles, trouble-free. I performed regular maintenance, and it went through 3 sets of tires and two batteries. I sold it on eBay for $5k to a woman in Alaska who loves it and drives it every day.

    My 2002 Jetta TDI has 110,000 miles on it, also trouble-free (except for two recall issues, the window mechanism and the brake light switch. And a clogged EGR due to a really bad batch of Diesel fuel… my mistake, NOT VW’s!) I expect this car will last a quarter million miles.

    Not *all* VW’s have quality issues. Maybe I’ve been lucky, maybe a few people have been unlucky and whine really loud. Based on my experience so far, I’d buy another VW in a heatbeat.

    –chuck

  • avatar
    boredlawstudent

    Chuck,

    Judging by the swarms of users over on vwvortex complaining about significant problems w/ their NB (I was one of them), i’d say you have been very lucky. Both mine and my friend’s VW experience’s have been awful. Best of luck w/ the TDI.

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    “But look at how high the price is. For $26,000 I can buy a nicely equipped model of the new Ford Taurus, and get a huge trunk, huge interior, style, and a all around five star safety rating. What is the more logical choice?”

    Umm…. to be perfectly frank I would choose the Beetle. I can always put a chip in or replace the engine if the power deficit bugged me that much.

  • avatar
    vento97

    For the record, I don’t own a beetle (nor will I ever).

    I’ve owned the following VWs:

    1975 Mk1 Scirocco
    1987 Mk2 Golf
    1997 Mk3 Jetta
    2003 Mk4 Wolfsburg Jetta 1.8T
    2003 B5 Passat GLS 1.8T

    The only exception is a 1977 Datsun 280z whose transmission bearings went out not once, not twice, but three times… Hated to get rid of the car, but it was eating me out of house and home…

    The beetle is not only the LEAST reliable of the lot, it also lacks any semblance of practical function except to bring attention to the cheerleader, Barbie types that drive them.

    B.T.W. – With the exception of the 1975 Scirocco, every VW that I’ve owned were purchased near the end of the production cycle (after all the bugs are worked out). I prefer letting others volunteer as guinea pigs by being the first on the block to own a brand-new fresh-out-of-the -factory 1st-year production model.

    You must be an incredibly sharp guy with a scientific laboratory for a garage if you can fully maintain today’s cars.

    Let’s just say that I have the VAG-COM diagnostic plug-in module/software (the same VAG-COM software the dealer uses), as well as the Bentley factory manuals (paperback and CD-ROM) covering VW models from 1985 through early 2005. As a matter of fact, I just finished rebuilding the cruise control system and modified the ECU (the cars electronic brain) for better performance on my 1997 Jetta.

    As a former Air Force C-141 aircraft mechanic, each aircraft that I’ve worked on has a compete compliment of technical manuals covering every system on the aircraft right down to the bolts. Since the manuals have worked for me tremendously in the aircraft maintenance arena, I figured I could apply this knowledge/experience in the automotive arena as well.

  • avatar
    vento97

    Oh yeah – having a Master’s Degree in Software Engineering (to go along with a mechanical background) also helps…;)

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    On a side note, I love the mid-80′s VW’s. It’s amazing how interchangable the parts are for VW’s and the durability of their vehicles was far beyond the norm of that time.

  • avatar
    labrat

    I’ve never been a fan of the New Beetle. I’ve always found it to be too girly, and the interior proportions are incredibly awkward (minivan distance to the windshield, too much front/too little rear head room, etc). Function follows form to the extreme.

    That said, I admire VW for bringing this car to the market. When it appeared on the scene in the late 90′s, the state of automotive design was pretty bleak. We can thank VW for paving the way for PT Cruisers, Thunderbirds, Mini Coopers, Solstices, FJ Cruisers, and just probably, giving designers throughout the industry the cojones to stretch their imaginations a little. Cars of today are more inspired, design wise, than they were ten years ago, eh?

  • avatar
    andrewg

    I had a ’99 New Beetle: white w/ black interior. 2.0 liter four. Lasted 7 yrs & 115,000 mi. I use the term “lasted” advisedly.

    It was far too heavy for its engine, got so-so mileage and was prone to fouled injectors. The O2 sensor was recalled, then failed one year later, the fuel gauge failed under warranty, the gas cap actuator failed under warranty, the cable link to the newly replaced actuator then failed, the vanity mirror light failed under warranty (this killed the battery prematurely and that was NOT covered under warranty), the headlights were a pain to service, the converter failed under warranty (check engine light never came on), the AC failed at 60k, was replaced w. OEM equipment and then failed two months out of its one-year warranty. Dealer service sucked. While under warranty the dealer changed the oil and did not replace the drain plug properly, causing a loss of oil pressure on a busy freeway and, later, the service writer did not know the timing belt change interval to give just two examples.

    I now have a Toyota.

  • avatar
    Mrb00st

    best way to make a beetle cool that i’ve seen: coupe with 1.8T, GT2871R turbo, FMIC, meth/water injection, a good clutch, peloquin LSD, coilovers and some wheels, go smoke some mustangs.

    Even though i have a Jetta 2.5 (which by the way, i do LIKE the engine! jees you are all rough; have you driven a 2.5 with a 5 speed?) i recognize it was a step down for the beetle from the 1.8T.

  • avatar
    vento97

    Even though i have a Jetta 2.5 (which by the way, i do LIKE the engine! jees you are all rough; have you driven a 2.5 with a 5 speed?) i recognize it was a step down for the beetle from the 1.8T.

    You can add 20 hp (up to 170) with software mods to the ECU. There are also turbo kits available to give the 2.5 some extra kick…

  • avatar
    ash78

    I’m a lifelong dubber (if two cars over 12 years counts as lifetime) as is my dad, currently on number 17 or 18 or so…

    Honestly, this vehicle doesn’t even enter our radar screens, not even slightly. Nor have I ever seen any male under the age of 70 driving one. This is not meant to be stereotypical, just an observation. There is a whole sub-market of retirees out there–mostly in FL, CA, and AZ–who are effectively responsible for the existence of the Sebring convertible and NB convertible (and maybe the Eos, jury is still out). There isn’t a lot of rhyme or reason, just an excess of disposable income and a “life is short, let’s have fun” mentality.

    It doesn’t have to be powerful and sporty, that’s for the midlife crisis crowd. I’m talking about the late-life crisis folks ;)

  • avatar
    TaxedAndConfused

    Are we back in 1991 ? We have an all white VW and Crowded House have a new album.

    Arrgh.

  • avatar
    guyincognito

    My sister has one of these. I think it is a horrible piece of crap. The convertible top squeaks and rattles bad enough to justify putting it down in any climate. The chassis is flexy and the handling is downright scary going through canyons (although it could be my sister’s driving). And damn is it slow. I slammed on the gas and had to check to make sure I had pressed the right pedal. To make matters worse the proportions of the car and giant blind spots combined with sub par parking ability have left hers a wreck.

  • avatar
    jurisb

    The bug is everything that embodies the desperation of masses yearn breathing style with the bitter aftertaste of cheapness and extravertness. The beetle looks amateur to me, look at those doors, they look 2 dimeensional as if cut from a steel board and bent a notch. look at those fenders- there is no single line that would make them blend with hood ,doors, you name it.it looka assmebled from alien parts. If you look at new nissan micra, it is far better built in terms of design. the windows look square, but at the same time headlight are round, as if taken from somewhere else.huge dissonance in aesthetics.well the same i could tell about the britsh pervert mini, that costs like sports car, drives like tuned up golf, weighs like sports car, and looks like… stinginess or second hand beanmobile.people have always enjoyed freaks, doesn`t mean they love them. ditto the french citroen duck. do people love those cars/ don`t know, but a head turner it is for sure, like a three boob chick. being interesting, and being coveted is not the same. i call the bug interesting.does it drive good? don`t care. would you ask a girl for a date with no front teeth? well if you wouldn`t, would you be interested in her big beautiful inside world of hers? I am nasty, aren`t I?

  • avatar

    3200 lbs???! Good grief. That’s what my Accord weighs. The old Beetle weighed less than 2,000 lbs.

    The irony of the New Beetle is that the old one eschewed fashion for practicality, and it’s practicality made it fashionable. The new one eschews practicality for fashion.

    The other irony is that the old Beetle had true artistic integrity–something I discovered only after I began photographing classic cars.

  • avatar
    ktm

    Judging by the swarms of users over on vwvortex complaining about significant problems w/ their NB (I was one of them), i’d say you have been very lucky. Both mine and my friend’s VW experience’s have been awful. Best of luck w/ the TDI.

    That’s because people love to complain, but no one ever makes a post saying how trouble free their car is. You only ever hear about their problems.

    My old B5 S4 was in the shop for 24 days in a 6 month period. I was a member of Audiworld.com and VWVortex. I never once complained about my car because I knew what I was buying. Far too many people gripe about the slightest inconvenience these days.

  • avatar
    vento97

    I never once complained about my car because I knew what I was buying. Far too many people gripe about the slightest inconvenience these days.

    Thank you!!! My sentiments exactly…:-)

  • avatar
    IronEagle

    fellswoop

    Sounds like a cool ride. There is one here in Metro Atlanta called “The Orange” lowered and tuned and it looks great. I would have loved to have seen an new Beetle AWD performance version with more power out of the 5v Turbo engine. With the right bodykit/wheels/tires it would have been a mini 911 Turbo basically. INstead we got the R32 Golf.

    I am curious though, did you remove the flower vase? Or do you just put pens and stuff in it?

  • avatar
    gfen

    There already was a performance version of the NB akin to the R32, it was the 2001 New Beetle RSi, and there were 250 produced.

  • avatar
    terry meade

    Well, I just bought the car – on looks only. It is beautiful and then I was surprised to feel how heavy it is – that was a plus – it goes too fast for me – I am 75 – but a VW fan from1969 – even before. I have had the great bus with the mickey mouse windows, the ghia, the cabriolet for the last 25 years – one for 10 and one for 15 and it still runs like a top – but this little baby – I have named her Alice – as she totally has to be female – she will be my last car. She is totally lovely.

    The Eyes made it mine – I loved the PT Cruiser convertible (only the convertible) because it looked like it came off a 1937 movie set but it was a little too long or something – and besides my mechanic who makes my cars run perfectly – would not agree to handle anything but a VW. Be nice to this baby – only 3,000 made and one day she will be worth a bundle. I love the rag top. It should have been white but then it would not wear as well??? maybe???

  • avatar
    jdmartinjax

    And what in the world is with you people acting as if anyone who goes outside of your generalizations and stereotypes is some sort of freak???

    People are allowed to like what they like, or did Cheney eliminate that law?

    I swear I am not retired, and I am a man’s man, love women–before you start casting aspersions–love to drive a car that was built to drive, and not built to sell to a demographic.

    My NBC turbo is Galactic Blue with a tan interior, and a truly beautiful car, but hey what do I know? I just went to art school, and then later graduated from the university (Of WV, not VW)

    The stereo with 10 speakers and a Blaupunkt blaster is all I need to rock out, the roof is silent, and the only thing that rattles is whatever I happened to leave in one of the side door pockets–otherwise it could not be tighter, and I am looking at 81,000 miles.

    VW ROCKS!


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