By on October 8, 2015

Volkswagen Beetle 1.8 TSI

This will likely come as a bit of a surprise to those of you who get your news through glass bottles tossed into the ocean and carried by persistent currents to the remote island on which you’ve been stranded by the crash of your FedEx plane, but Volkswagen is in a little bit of trouble due to some questions about diesel emissions. I think it’s a safe bet that the fellow I saw on Route 71 the other day with “TDI LOVE” as the license plate on his Jetta isn’t feelin’ it.

While the New New Beetle — now called just Beetle — was available as a TDI prior to the current kerfuffle, the version that I rented on Monday is powered by the same turbocharged gasoline engine that I liked in the Jetta TSI earlier this year. As tested, it’s $22,615.

So, should you buy one?


20151007_170747

My plans to deliver a comprehensive review of this vehicle to you, the TTAC reader, were slightly sidelined by a motocross injury suffered Wednesday morning. So I’ll be calling on my hospital chauffeur, the infamous Danger Girl, for her input throughout the next few paragraphs.

I drove the Beetle about eighty miles on Monday with one question on my mind: Who would buy this over the equivalent Golf?

20151007_170953

Let’s start with the aesthetics of it. For better or for worse, it looks more like an original Type I Volkswagen than the New Beetle did. I think that’s a good thing; it’s not quite as cutesy and the visual link to other watercooled descendants of the original VW, such as the Porsche 991, is quite apparent. The baby blue paint of our rental car did not make it any more likely to be driven by a man, however.

It’s once you get inside that the revised proportions really pay off. The windshield is close, and it’s nearly vertical. What a lovely feeling, to not have a GM Dustbuster van’s worth of remotely deployed dash surface in a subcompact car! This immediately makes the Beetle feel like a “real” vehicle and not some sort of oddball lash-up. The painted airbag cover with its “Beetle” logo is a nice touch even if it’s not strictly retro-correct.

The rest of the controls are of the same approximate quality that you’d get in a new Golf. It might be my imagination running away with me, but I think they’re from a shelf above the stuff used in the Jetta. The “V-Tex” chairs are supportive. As you’d expect, backseat room is tight but I was still able to fit a 5’9″ female friend back there for a ten-mile trip.

On the move, the Beetle is much like a shorter-wheelbase Golf, which it fundamentally is by 3.8 inches. Steering feel is acceptable. The TSI is cheerful about its work and rarely feels out of breath. VW would like to sell you one of its sunroof-and-sound-system packages and for that reason the base Beetle skimps on everything from auto headlight to a reversing camera. (They’ll have to fix that last omission in the next two model years or so.) Steering and braking effort are high but not obtrusively so.

We’ll now hand the microphone over to Danger Girl. What did she notice?

“I really don’t like the blind spots.” That’s fair — there’s a lot of sail panel on the car and the placement of the passenger headrest manages to obscure the right rear quarter window.

“It goes very fast and I keep speeding by accident.” DG has been driving my V6 Accord, which will obviously perform a bloody vivisection on any TSI Volkswagen including the Golf R in a street race but which doesn’t twist the crank very hard at 2,000 rpm. The TSI, on the other hand, delivers power early and consistently.

“It should have a backup camera”. Agreed; this is not a car with splendid rear visibility.

“I don’t like the knob that adjusts the seats.” Get used to it, kiddo. That’s the Volkswagen Way.

In truth, the manual seat knob is not great for cars with multiple drivers, but if you are, say, a 45-year-old single elementary-school teacher like every Beetle owner in North America it’s not a problem and it offers more precision in adjustment.

“I like how the back seats give the impression of being bucket seats.” Fair enough.

“To use both cupholders, you have to put the little wanna-be center console up.” VW has always struggled with cupholders. Even my Phaeton had lousy cupholders, albeit ones of Byzantine complexity with high-quality veneers in Eucalyptus or California Walnut.

“There’s no Bluetooth.” I think she’s right — most entry-level VWs can’t match Kia in this regard.

Asked the question, “Would you rather have this Beetle or a four-cylinder Accord?” Danger Girl came down on the side of the Beetle. “Four-cylinder Accords are for people who can’t afford a real Accord.” Thinking about the implications of women believing such a thing makes my leg hurt. It also makes me think of the breakdown in the OutKast song “Prototype” where Andre3000 says, “I can’t afford to not record.” DG did, however, say that she’d rather have a Fiesta ST than a Beetle TSI, and that’s a fair price comparison.

Had this car been the first New Beetle, VW might be in a much stronger position today. Since it wasn’t, and since the mothership apparently didn’t care for the idea of meeting emissions standards, and for many other reasons closely related to the company’s occasionally arrogant dismissal of the North American market, they’re in a pickle. The affordable excellence and accidental chic of the Type I saved VW after World War II, but I wouldn’t look for this inoffensive niche model to do much more than temporarily occupy the showroom space typically devoted to its compression-ignition brethren.

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113 Comments on “Rental Review: 2015 Volkswagen Beetle 1.8 TSI...”


  • avatar
    philipwitak

    what is a “bettle”?

  • avatar
    JMII

    “Who would buy this over the equivalent Golf?”

    Someone who wants a “cute” car… IE: women.

    I can see my wife owning a Beetle but not a Golf for sure. My brother has a Golf R and my wife doesn’t see the appeal despite being a hatchback fan herself. Then she had a Golf as rental and came away unimpressed, mostly but the sluggish automatic (I assume it was the non-turbo). In particular she hated the way it lugged. Like most cars these days when you request thrust not much happens as the transmission tries to figure out if you really need to go now or should it attempt to save some carbon credits on your behalf. For reference the wife’s daily driver is a T5 manual Volvo C30. She had the Golf while the C30 was getting a new rear bumper thanks to someone who didn’t understand how to execute a left turn onto a divided road properly.

    Anyway.. glad to hear they fixed the aircraft carrier like dash from the old(?) new Beetle. Also looking at the pictures it seems they ditched the exposed metal at the top of the doors which must have burned the arms of many people trying to look cool while driving the previous model. Basically as mentioned there is nothing wrong with the Beetle per say, its just you might as well get a Golf because then you can at least see out of the back.

    • 0 avatar
      ClutchCarGo

      It could also be someone like me who has some nostalgia for the Type 1 of yore, especially now that they’ve done a better job of capturing the proportions of the original Beetle. But I would still probably balk at the hatchback fail caused by the slope of the back compared to a Golf if I were shopping VW.

      • 0 avatar
        Sigivald

        Yeah, that’s what I like most about the Beetle, despite not liking coupes in general – it reminds me of the Type 1.

        (The hatchback issue doesn’t bother me, because I wouldn’t consider it as a cargo or sole vehicle in the first place.)

      • 0 avatar
        Ryoku75

        The New-New Beetle doesnt really sounds like an old Type 1, nor does it smell like one, nor does it leak oil onto your feet, nor is the gas tank within the crumple zone…

        Only visually does it remind me of my ’75 deathtrap, and I can get that same nostalgia with scale replicas.

  • avatar
    carguy

    “DG has been driving my V6 Accord, which will obviously perform a bloody vivisection on any TSI Volkswagen including the Golf R in a street race”

    I think you may be overstating the capabilities of your Accord over the Golf R.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      I thought this too, even if you assume a roll and the AWD launch is out of the picture. The Golf R is a 106-mph car in the quarter, which the Accord can’t quite match.

    • 0 avatar
      hubcap

      “Are people racing much further than that in a straight line?”

      1/4 mile? Pfft.

      I’m pretty sure BigTrucks uses the entire West Side Drive as his personal drag strip. I’m also sure he’d tell you he eats Beetles and s#its Golf Rs.

      HELLCAT bit#hes!

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Exactly. His Accord coupe would pretty much waste a non-GTI Golf with a manual, but the R is another story. My money would be on the VW in a straight line, or at the track.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      I suspect that the Golf R is a tad better than an Accord V6 in the twisties too. And it for darned sure has MUCH better brakes!

      • 0 avatar
        Power6

        I love how Jack always slips those Accord nuggets in, like a little sign he is not the self assured cool guy he portrays on the Internets.

        “My Accord, which is faster than any Ferrari, is a very fine automobile”

        • 0 avatar
          VolandoBajo

          Actually, those Accord nuggets do not inevitably lead to the conclusion you draw @Power6.

          Absent evidence of a Ferrari outrunning his specific Accord, that is mere speculation.

          It is conceivable that Jack might have some outrageous sleeper mods in his Accord, and is just trolling to get some Ferrari owner to pony up for a showdown.

          Placing money on that challenge would seem to be like playing cards with a stranger you just met on a riverboat…or agreeing to a few games of nineball with someone who spends all their time hanging around a pool hall. You might win almost all the time, but in certain situations, you might be stepping on a beartrap.

          Anyone out there with a Ferrari who wants to try to drub Jack’s Accord? Remember, it isn’t about the ability of a Ferrari to outperform any Accord. It is about running against Jack’s Accord.

          And has any of the B&B actually seen what he might have under the hood?

          All I know is that I wouldn’t be too quick to jump to conclusions…Jack might have a spot or two of insecurity wired into his being, along with all the rest that makes him tick, but I wouldn’t be too sure he doesn’t have a wicked fast, and decidedly non-stock, Accord in his driveway.

          And I haven’t seen anyone yet post back “bring that damn Accord out to play with my Ferrari, and I will give it a proper drubbing.”

          That alone should be enough reason to be a bit more cautious in speculating what it means when Jack says that.

          But if such a challenge is ever mounted, I would love to see the outcome.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    Jack, I hope you recover quickly!

    Those manual seat knobs are tools of the devil. My G8 had one, which was exceedingly stiff, and it made it pretty much impossible for my 5’3″ wife to adjust the seat to her preferences after I had been driving without my help. “Precision in adjustment”… who cares? That’s why you have memory seats; you have to get it right just once.

    And no Bluetooth? In 2015? Wha-huh? That’s just bizarre. I think a base Versa has it.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      Jack’s getting so old and frail these days. Always in casts and crutches!

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      Have to disagree – nothing irritates me more than lever action seatback adjusters. “Just Right” is always something in-between two notches, and if you try to adjust it on the move you risk lying backwards staring at the headliner. Just because Holden can’t manage to do it quite right doesn’t mean the design is bad. All of my VWs had effortless adjusters, though they do take a fair number of turns. Which helps the precision.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        Don’t love the lever action ones either. I’d rather have a power recline function. It irritated me that the G8 didn’t have one when the rest of the seat adjustments (except the lumbar) were power.

        • 0 avatar
          05lgt

          Power with at least 2 memory settings, preferably includong side mirrors please. This has climbed up from nice to must have, since we both drive each others cars.

  • avatar
    j.grif

    Get well soon, young kids in that sport bust bones as well!

  • avatar
    S2k Chris

    “Four-cylinder Accords are for people who can’t afford a real Accord.”

    Interesting sentiment given the prevailing forum/car rag “knowledge” that V6 family sedans are stupid and a waste.

    I’m 50/50 on this; on one hand, both of my “Accords” (TSXs) have been 4cyl, and I’ve always felt them a bit underpowered, but on the other, I’m no fan of 270hp+ going through the front wheels and an open diff.

    • 0 avatar
      Sam Hell Jr

      Same thought. Modern FWD V6 sedans are an application-specific thing. I bombed around in a tarted-up previous-gen Camry SE for a day and had more fun than I would’ve expected. But hustling my dad’s late-model FWD TL, which I don’t doubt would be significantly faster than the equivalent Camry on a track or a back road, feels like pushing a wheelbarrow to me.

      V6 family sedans ARE a waste, but that’s hardly the point, right? They’re about the refinement, in my experience, moreso than a performance advantage which will play out in any meaningful way in the average ownership experience. I’ll grant you I haven’t been out in anything newer than a 2012, so maybe the most recent round of improvements would change my perspective.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        “V6 family sedans ARE a waste”

        Not quite as they can be purchased by the average Joe Sh-moo who has family and responsibilities but still wants a little fun with his beigemobile (which is most of us).

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          The other reason to buy a V6 family sedan over an I4 is that all the current mass market V6s in the US are good engines. They’ve all been around for a bit, with improvements made over time. I’d buy a V6 sedan from Honda, Toyota, Nissan, Ford, or GM. Not Chrysler though. I’ve not been happy with the fit & finish or material durability on the recent Chryslers I’ve driven.

          • 0 avatar

            I don’t know about its long term reliability, but Chrysler’s Pentastar V6 is a pretty stout motor.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            Oh the Pentastar is a great motor. I haven’t been happy with the cars built around it. My next door neighbor’s brand new 300 (Hemi AWD) is very nice, but it has a rattle in the dash the dealership can’t solve and his speakers often cut out. I didn’t like my 200 rental either. Scratch that, I hated my 200 rental.

          • 0 avatar
            VoGo

            I would go the other way on the Accord sedan. The I4 can be had with a stick; the V6 cannot. Given how lovely Honda sticks are, the “real” Accord sedan is the Sport with the I4.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            +1 to bball.

            The Pentastar’s a terrific engine, but I’m unsold on the stuff FCA wraps around it, particularly the 200.

            I will say, though, that as production continues, I’m not seeing the same issues I saw on the early models.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        There are some people, not saying who, that like a larger car with four doors, and don’t want to settle with a busy 4-cylinder pulling all that weight.

      • 0 avatar
        ponchoman49

        Not to me. My 2013 Impala LT W-body is a real hoot when the hammer goes down and often shocks the daylights out of an unsuspecting passenger used to 4 cylinder economy car. The fact that it will put down an easy 31-32 on the open road is icing on the cake and it is a stout solid driving car considering it’s age with virtually no torque steer.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      The answer to that question is TLX SH-AWD. If you skip the Advance package it’s not too much more expensive than an Accord Touring, especially since Acura dealers are a bit more willing to deal.

      • 0 avatar
        S2k Chris

        “The answer to that question is TLX SH-AWD.”

        For a while I was really into the TLX and looking forward to buying one, but I’ve kinda fallen off on it. I moved a lot closer to work, and our roadtrip/distance/family car is my wife’s CUV, so spending $40k on a TLX to drive the 7 miles of surface streets to work just seems silly. And aside from being AWD and 100 more hp than my TSX, it doesn’t really seem any better. I dunno, been struggling with “car plans” lately since I don’t have something to dream about/plan for/look forward to; OTOH I have no money right now (just bought a house) to make any automotive moves anyways so what the hey.

    • 0 avatar
      Ryoku75

      According to forums and car rags the “last real Accord” was the 4th-gen.

      I myself dont mind a V6 as long as its executed well, and the transmission can take the extra hp.

      • 0 avatar
        sgeffe

        Best one — the cost-cutting started with the 5th-Gen and reached it’s nadir in the 8th (2008-2012).

        The 2013+ 9th-Gen is a BIIIIIIG improvement, and only loses a little quality of interior fitments, IMHO (particularly the carpeting) to the 4th.

    • 0 avatar
      05lgt

      How sure are we that DG was in no way intentionally flattering her Accord V6 owning audience? I don’t know her, but that was my first interpretation.

  • avatar
    Sigivald

    I like the *idea* of the Beetle, and keep looking – completely idly – at the Classic Edition one.

    But I generally dislike coupes and have no real use for it.

    But I like the idea.

  • avatar
    06V66speed

    A lady here at my office had one of the early “New Beetles” which, I was surprised to learn was diesel-powered (GASP!!!!!).

    Oh, kwitcherbichin’.

    I presume, aside from its “cuteness”/niche factor, that once it gets out of warranty, reliability is once-again questionable in typical V-dub fashion?

    Meh. GTI or bust for me, seeing as I still have a hankering for such, even after the dirty diesel debacle.

    • 0 avatar
      mason

      My wife has been averaging 25k+ miles a year in a Beetle TDI 5 speed for the last 8 years. It’s required nothing above what you would expect running that many miles a year. The entire front end is still original minus the shocks (front and rear). Not something I would ever buy if i had a need for a daily commuter but I have no qualms about driving it on longer road trips if I dont need my truck. It’s been a great practical little car and has served her very well.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    I do wish VW would go back to making decent economy cars .

    My Daughter In Law bought a 1st. gen. new Beetle and it was O.K. but not overly good, like all of them it needed too much constant repair so they offed it as soon as she became bored with it .

    -Nate

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    This is one of those cars I only could tolerate being around (even if I didn’t own it) in specific trim and color level, with specific wheels.

    The blue doesn’t work.
    The matte dark door trim doesn’t work.
    Interior coloring doesn’t work.
    Bleh.

    Needs full moon chromed wheels, and to be brown or some other adult color. From my window at work, I saw a bronze one with full moons in a parking space outside yesterday which also was a convertible. I thought “Hmm, kind of interesting. Looks alright with a tan roof.” A few minutes later I looked out again, and it had been replaced in the spot with a purple C4 Corvette convertible, black roof, directional alloys. “Oh man, nice, what’s next!?”

    Twenty minutes later, white 2010 Camry. Such failure, third car.

    http://www.liz-turner.com/uploads/1/0/9/7/10979999/253803_orig.png

    • 0 avatar
      FormerFF

      My sister has one of these. It’s dark blue, and has five spoke alloys that are reminiscent of the Fuchs wheels that used to come on Porsche 911s, and it looks great. It’s a fairly snappy drive as well, hers has the DSG and the entire drivetrain works well.

  • avatar
    Pinzgauer

    I bought a used 2012 2.0 TSI Beetle w/ 6MT in March. The reason I bought it – it was cheap. It sat on the lot all winter and the dealer just wanted to unload it. 13k out the door with the VW certified warranty. So far its been a great commuter and turns in up to 35mpg on the highway. I put a diesel geek short throw shifter and a Turbo badge on the dash, otherwise its stock. Its a quirky car but it has definitely grown on me, I dont plan on getting rid of it anytime soon.

    My only complaint is that the steering rack is a bit slow and the tires it came with suck in the rain. Tires can be fixed and I can live with the steering so neither is a big deal.

  • avatar
    Toad

    Good review of an overlooked car. A couple of neighbors in my corner of suburbia have the new model and I have to admit that I like it, inside and out. If nothing else the new(est) Beetle breaks up the monotony of Camcords, Odysseys, and CUV’s, especially when equipped with the dog dish hubcaps.

    Sorry to hear about your recent injury. The agent that signed you up for health insurance surely has been fired or exiled to corporate Siberia.

  • avatar
    energetik9

    I’ve never been fond of this car, but I do believe it is not a bad car.

    It just screams “chick car”. thankfully, even my wife won’t go anywhere near it. I pulled up next to a newer Beetle Turbo the other day, driven by a man in his 30’s. All I could think of was “why?” Why would you do that?

    • 0 avatar
      Andrew717

      As a man in his 30s who often can be seen driving a Beetle: maybe he was driving his wife’s car. She hates the lack of visibility in my Mustang, so when we go somewhere together 85% of the time, it’s me driving her Beetle.

      • 0 avatar
        mason

        Ditto. I Also drive my wife’s occasionally. I’m more than comfortable enough with my masculinity to be seen by all my manly iron worker cronies in a Beetle. Several of them have even rode in it at one time or another and a few of them are even taller than me (I’m 6’2″ and fit comfortably). It’s actually a fun little car to drive. Firm suspension, the 5 speed shifts very crisp and the little diesel engine is very torquey at low RPMs. It’s probably the easiest standard I’ve ever driven. 2nd gear take offs, most corners can be taken in 3rd. It just lugs its little self around so effortlessly its easy to forget your driving a standard.

        And a constant combined 47mpg is a nice bonus.

    • 0 avatar
      April S

      Why is a car that is more likely owned by a female considered a negative?

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        Because men are insecure.

        I can frequently be seen driving a Forester. My wife drives it the majority of the time, but I drive it whenever I’m carrying the munchkin, cargo, or parking somewhere I don’t want to take my shiny LS460. No one in Seattle notices, because everyone in Seattle drives a Subaru. But I’ve gotten quite a few “haw haw lesbian” comments online. The men making those comments are the same men who think they will lose social standing if seen driving a baby blue Beetle.

  • avatar
    SilverCoupe

    I haven’t driven the Beetle TSI, but I just drove a Golf TSI (manual transmission) for a coupe of weeks in Poland and the Czech Republic. My wife and I both found it to be underpowered, compared to her Mini S, though otherwise a thoroughly competent car.

    It was certainly slower than the red Shelby Cobra that came up behind us on a narrow 2 lane road near the Polish border, waited for his chance, then roared past us – twice, as our GPS was apparently better than his on picking the shortest route!

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    My company bought another Audi yesterday. It’s a CPO, which means nothing other than that it is used. They didn’t want to deal on a new A7 TDI yesterday. I wonder how they feel about it today. Oh well. At least now I’ve got a company car that isn’t 21 feet long.

  • avatar
    Fred

    She is right about bluetooth. I’ve only been using it for about 6 months, but I wouldn’t buy another car without it.

  • avatar
    Shawnski

    “Let’s start with aesthetics…” Indeed, first empty the interior out of one unflattering person in passenger seat, sodie pop, and cell phones charging. ‘merica, sigh.

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      Only in America do people drive long enough distances that they need a beverage!

      In the rest of the world, cell phone batteries last forever and everyone is gorgeous!

      Sorry, what were you saying?

  • avatar
    threeer

    Had one of these as a rental a few months back…actually rather liked it (but in all fairness, this came after driving Tahoes for nearly two years in Saudi Arabia). In manual trans, I’d think it would make a unique and even slightly fun commuter. I much prefer the style of this Beetle than the New Beetle. Properly optioned, I’d not be embarrassed to be seen in it.

  • avatar
    Garagezone

    I’ve got the 2013 version. Same Denim Blue color, interior is more blue than the black of the ’15. Mine’s the 2.5 VR5. I Love that little car, great stereo BLUETOOTH and economical. 25 city / 32 fwy. I fail to understand the chick car thing… It does appeal to women. I know that for sure. But with the dog-dish classic hubcaps and wheel rings, it gets nods from the other 50-something males like me who remember the originals from their childhood

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    I’d rather have the Golf myself, why pay more money for less practicality and less greenhouse?

    The Golf is one of the only current cars offered with real windows.

  • avatar
    Chan

    I’ve warmed up to the current Beetle, at least styling-wise. I regret choosing a Jetta over it when I rented a car a few years ago. Due to my experience with the brand, however, I will not be putting down my hard-earned money at a VW dealer anytime soon.

    I understand that it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but I have no problem tooling around in a cute car, even one in a pastel colour. Except pink.

  • avatar
    tbone33

    I don’t think Jack wrote this.

    The Jack Baruth Checklist:

    Reference to a song: Check
    Reference to Jack’s high end guitars & amps: Missing
    Needlessly pointing out the sex of any friend that’s female: Check and check.
    Concern about government overreach presented in an alarmist manner: Missing
    Weak engine shaming: half check because Jack only relayed that critique.

    • 0 avatar
      Chan

      Ahh, you wrote the comment that I wanted to write. So this article scored a 2.5 out of 5 on the JB scale.

      • 0 avatar
        VoGo

        What about:
        -Reference to how he was so rich he could afford 2 Bentleys disguised as Phaetons: Check
        -Humblebrag about getting laid recently: Missing
        -Reminiscence about track driving prowess: Missing
        -Shout out to obscure central Ohio landmark: Missing
        -Discrete picture of self, with extra points for disco jacket: Check, but no extra credit.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Well, he is playing hurt, you know.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      Reference (likely hyperbolic) to J35 Accord capabilities: check
      Superflous assignment of gender to car: check
      Weird conspiracy theory, taken seriously: Missing
      Account of rosily-recalled past fling: Missing
      High word count: Missing

      I think we can only conclude that Jack needs to recover quickly to give us all of what we’re accustomed to (and also to, like, not be in pain).

      • 0 avatar
        VolandoBajo

        Damn, some of you guys really believe in kicking a guy when he’s down.

        It was funny, and in places, a direct hit, though. I will give you that.

        But to me, all of that is what makes a read of a JB article fun…packaging the essential content within the context of its relationship to a real world scenario. Even if it is difficult for me to pen the phrase “real world scenario” in the context of disco jackets.

        But dammit, Jack, there unfortunately comes a time in every man’s life when he finally has to recognize that while he still may be able to do many things that lesser mortals cannot, he can no longer function full-tilt on the way he did when he was younger.

        For me, it was picking up a skateboard again in my forties, to fill up some limited recreation time with something relatively harmless, due to an otherwise busy schedule. It was too soon after my divorce to be looking for a romance on the rebound and I didn’t want to spend my time and money in a bar, feeling sorry for myself, so out came the skateboard.

        All was well, and I was reasonably cautious, for a while. But the day I tried to ollie up onto a curb a couple of hours before an evening grad school class, and ended up hamburgering my outer thigh from the knee to my butt cheek, I realized that while I COULD keep on doing something like this, I was probably better off finding other alternatives.

        Still, I fully understand why you are out there BMX’ing one more time. But consider the possibility of shifting gears at this point in your life. If the next break is your neck, it is going to be difficult to continue writing.

        So please try to keep yourself in one piece. Wisdom consists in part of recognizing that one cannot keep on doing the same things forever, no matter how hard one trains, and tries.

        Doesn’t mean the next stop is a rocking chair, but sometimes things need to be left to one’s past. For me, it was the skateboard. Fortunately, I have found other things in my life to keep me busy and happy. Learning to become fluent in Spanish keeps me more than busy in so-called retirement, and my wife and son keep me happy on a daily basis.

        The fact that I no longer skateboard no longer is a thought that troubles me, though for a while it did.

        But as a reporter once wired to his editor, when the latter had tried to order the former to go into a dangerous war zone: “I regret that I only have one *.”

        I submit that maturity consists in part of our individually recognizing that we only have one *. Though I have never claimed that continuing to grow up, well past the age of 21, is an easy thing.

        • 0 avatar
          Exfordtech

          I ain’t as good as I once was,
          But I’m as good once
          As I ever was …

          • 0 avatar
            VolandoBajo

            First heard that one, in a slightly different form, from a retired NYC detective, who used to tend bar in a Village bar owned by a couple of good looking women, and populated with great waitresses.

            And he would smile at them and say:

            “I’m not as good as I once was, but once I’m as good as I ever was.”

            It’s all in the delivery, and I think he nailed it. Which by all appearances wasn’t all he nailed.

            And he was a helluva good guy, and one of those friends from the past that I wish I was still in touch with. Tommy K.

            Irish as the day is long, and one of the funniest guys I have ever known, pure dry wit that wouldn’t quit.

            Hadn’t thought about him in a while, but that quote took me back more than a couple of decades to another time and place.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Off topic, but the the Beetle and strippo-model two-door Golf can be had with the TSI motor and a five-speed manual, making them first class little hellraisers. That engine is a torque monster at the right RPMs.

  • avatar
    NeilM

    “my V6 Accord, which will obviously perform a bloody vivisection on any TSI Volkswagen including the Golf R in a street race.”

    @JackB: My Golf R’s unfair AWD launch advantage would leave the Accord spinning those front wheels. I put your claim down to medication befuddlement.

  • avatar
    sirwired

    On the comment about how VW would be in a better position today if this Beetle were the one they sold back in ’99 or whenever it was…

    It actually sold pretty well for a nostalgia-mobile. They kept the platform around too long, but it sold pretty well at the beginning.

    • 0 avatar
      johnny_5.0

      Couldn’t you get a 1.8 turbo back then too? And where the heck are all of those old beetles? I realize they’d be pushing a decade and a half now, but they seem pretty rare these days (even by ~15 year old car standards).

      • 0 avatar
        sgeffe

        Instead of a 2000 Accord, I almost grabbed a silver New Beetle GLX Turbo with a 5-speed.

        Thankfully, I passed on that decision; my Mom’s decision to purchase a 2000 Jetta proved my decision right.

  • avatar
    Joss

    Two things:

    do the Deutsche polizie use this beetle?
    I heard they wear NYC in Berlin.

    is the vaaaze with flower still on dash?

  • avatar
    craiger

    I like cute cars. My wife and I are interested in a GTI, but I want an R-line Beetle because I prefer the styling. Wife says “It’s the same thing as a Golf but with less room inside. Plus, it looks stupid.”

    So I suggested a Mini. “No, it’s not 10 grand better than a Golf, the price is stupid.”

    How about a Fiesta ST? “I’ve never heard of that, and it’s probably stupid.”

    We’ve decided to keep our fingers crossed and wait for a Mazdaspeed 3.

    • 0 avatar
      rpn453

      Wow, that’s some serious role reversal!

      I’d be happy to drive any of those vehicles though, despite my opinion that they’re all a bit silly. I can tolerate silly to have fun.

  • avatar
    Maintainer

    I dunno Jack. I’ll wait for the “Bick Skruth” version. He might be less ambiguous.

  • avatar
    spyked

    I’m sure that thing has bluetooth. I just bought a 2012 base model Beetle (5 cylinder, 5 speed manual) and it has bluetooth phone and bluetooth audio streaming. The buttons are on the ceiling since it doesn’t have steering wheel controls in the base model.

    Mine is that same denim blue color, but it has the base black wheels with silver REAL hubcaps. Love it. The 5 cylinder sounds great at 3k and above, the 5 speed feels nice. And I love the body colored dash and door trims. Why does the car in this article have black instead of body colored dash I wonder?

    As a man cresting 40 looking for a commuter to save the miles from my “nice” car, this is a fun alternative to an Accent or Sentra or whatever. Even in denim blue…I feel like with black wheels and squashed roof, it looks gangsta! Of course, I’ve had 2 Miatas and countless small VW’s, so no insecurities here.

    • 0 avatar
      spyked

      Looking more closely, that car has black mirrors, black door handles, and black door trim along the bottom. WHY? Mine has body color mirrors and door handles, with chrome door trim along the bottom. That might be a rental car trim that can’t be bought by retail customers?

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    A fellow co-worker bought a red 2013 last year with low mileage and the 2.5 engine with automatic. He only had it 6 months and traded it in on a 2014 Chevy Cruze LT. The reason- it had 3 very annoying problems that the dealer just couldn’t seem to correct. It vibrated at 60 MPH and tire balances and rotation just didn’t fix this issue. We thought it had a bad wheel but the dealer refused to listen and wouldn’t replace it. Despite having only 21K on the clock it used a lot of oil between changes and caught him off guard while trekking on a long back road with the low oil indicator going off. VW said it is normal for 2-3 quarts of oil use between 3K mile change intervals. Yikes! The third issue was the transmission. It sometimes felt like it was slipping and often hesitated on downshifts and upshifts. Other times it shifts really hard from 2-3. VW re-flashed it but the issues persisted. Seeing this just re-affirmed my suspicions about VW quality and I would personally never recommend one to anybody else after this.

    His 2014 Cruze LT has been flawless BTW and he is thrilled I recommended it to him. No issues to report and it now has about the same mileage as the Beetle as it was a certified used car.

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