Although the Beetle was always the Volkswagen that traditionally never changed, it does receive some updates for 2006. The new standard engine is a 2.5-litre five-cylinder shared with the new Jetta; the 2.0-litre four-cylinder is gone, and the turbocharged model has been temporarily discontinued.
Styling is tweaked slightly: the headlights and taillights are elongated and restyled, the horizontal reverse lights are connected by a mesh grille, and the front and rear fascias, fenders and side sills are restyled. Inside, there’s a redesigned console with larger, relocated cupholders; chrome trim around the air vents and instrument cluster; and a new cluster design. Electronic stability control and 16-wheels become standard on all models; “leatherette” seating trim is standard, with optional leather. Exterior colours Shadow Blue, Gecko Green and Salsa Red replace Galactic Blue, Cyber Green and Tornado Red, and Harvest Moon is now available on the coupe.
Based on the Golf chassis, the New Beetle is available as a coupe or convertible. The coupe uses either the 2.5-litre gasoline engine or a 1.9-litre turbodiesel engine; the convertible is gasoline-only. Both engines base with a five-speed manual. The gasoline engine options up to a six-speed automatic with Tiptronic, while the diesel options up to a six-speed automatic Direct Shift Gearbox (DSG) with Tiptronic in the coupe, and the six-speed automatic with Tiptronic in the convertible.
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.
In a world of conventional cars, the unmistakable “Bug” stands alone; its facelift modernizes it without compromising its traditional styling. It handles very well, with the same surefootedness and instant steering response of the Golf upon which it is based.
The round design means exceptional room in the front seat, but very tall rear passengers will smack their heads on the rear window. It seems the obvious place for small children, but be sure they’re old enough to fasten their seat belts – it’s a long and difficult reach to the back seat, even with the “easy entry system” that allows the front seats to slide ahead, and it will be tough for parents to put an infant into a baby seat, or fasten a youngster’s seatbelt.
The convertible doubles the fun; the semi-automatic power roof drops down and while it doesn’t slip out of sight, it doesn’t present too much of a problem for rear visibility.