For 2007, the Volkswagen New Beetle and its convertible sibling receive some minor enhancements. The New Beetle is only offered with a gasoline engine; Volkswagen is temporarily discontinuing all diesel engines due to new emissions standards, but expect to see an oil burner return by 2008.

The auxiliary input jack has been moved from the lower dash to the middle; the taillights receive a yellow bulb instead of a white one; there is a revised finish on the alloy wheels and new stitching on the “leatherette” seats; and the leather-wrapped wheel receives graining. On the convertible, there is a new special-order cream roof, and a new Speed Blue exterior shade.

Based on the Golf chassis, the New Beetle is available as a coupe or convertible, with a 2.5-litre gasoline engine and five-speed manual transmission that can be optioned to a six-speed automatic with Tiptronic manual mode.

Each engine comes in a single trim line. The coupe includes 16-inch steel wheels, variable intermittent wipers with heated washer nozzles, air conditioning, cruise control, power locks with keyless entry, power mirrors, power windows, CD/MP3 stereo with ten speakers, heated seats, and “easy entry” system for rear-seat access.

The convertible carries the same features, along with a fifth window switch that simultaneously opens and closes all windows, and rear automatic rollover supports.

Available options include a luxury package of alloy wheels, sunroof and fog lights, and a luxury leather package.

The unmistakable “Bug” still stands out in a world of conventional cars. The round design means exceptional front-seat room, but very tall rear-seat passengers will smack their heads on the coupe’s rear window. Be sure any children are old enough to buckle their own seatbelts, as it’s a long way back to reach them, even with the easy-entry system that slides the front seats ahead.

Both New Beetles are fun to drive, with surefooted handling and instant steering response, but the convertible adds to warm-weather pleasure with its drop-down roof. It doesn’t disappear out of sight, but it doesn’t present too much of a problem for rear visibility once it’s down. The lack of a diesel engine (in the coupe) may disappoint some buyers, but expect it to return with an all-new system that will run cleaner than ever before.

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