Confession: I was a New Beetle hater.
Except this guy. That is awful.Which is weird, because it is not like I am a Beetle purist or an anything purist. I like my cars the way I like ‘em, and begrudge no one their tastes or priorities.
While incredibly influential in the retro revival in modern car design, I could gladly stomach the Minis, Mustangs, PT Cruisers and Prowlers, but there was just something about the New Beetle that rang hollow.
I drove one several years ago, and it simply reinforced in me the distaste I had for it. I wouldn’t expect Volkswagen to launch a modern rear-engine, rear-drive, air-cooled car, but the notion that the Beetle was in anyway superior to the Golf on which it was based left me scratching my head, with those commercials that tried to imply the superiority of the dome shape really starting to stretch the limits of this design experiment.
It’s entire purpose was to be cute, quirky and nostalgic without having to subject new buyers to old car problems.
I just hated it. I dreaded the prospect of ever being seen behind the wheel. I avoided it like the plague.
The Ragster and E-Bugster concepts previewed a more ‘aggressive’ second generation of new Beetle, but to me it did little to improve the appeal of this front-wheel-drive image-mobile. Super Beetle and GSR editions just seemed desperate to prove the potency of this cheeky little runabout.
The original Beetle’s modification to drag racer, with its rear weight bias, seems obvious, and Dave Hord’s rally-prepped Rally Bug sounds like a fittingly weird and wonderful use of an original Beetle, and brings to mind Herbie, a character that I will always hold dear from its appearances on Saturday night’s Wonderful World of Disney.
All those things the New Beetle is not. But hey, it has a flower vase in the dash. Flower power, yay….
But this latest generation seems to keep earning fans whose opinions I respect. And Jacob’s Super Beetle Song is still stuck in my head. It goes to the tune of the Super Why children’s show theme song, and despite Jacob denying that he came up with it, I blame him for the idea of singing car’s names to theme songs.