History/Description: Creating mania with the public when it re-launched in the late nineties, the Volkswagen New Beetle hit the market and began readily flying off dealer lots around the globe. This insanely popular model was a smash-hit with driving enthusiasts and car buffs alike in its most successful years, and is still moving well today. Years come and go – but this is one car that’s timelessly cool. The Beetle crosses all boundaries of age and gender and connects with car lovers of all walks.
The New Beetle crosses three separate decades now, and came with a plethora of engines, packages, drivelines and special model variants. Available from 1998 and on, shoppers can look for a New Beetle with features like a power sunroof, fog lamps, leather interior appointments, upgraded audio systems, heated mirrors, heated washer fluid nozzles, Bluetooth, automatic climate control and lots, lots more.
All units were two-door models, with coupe and cabriolet variants available. Note that 2012 saw an updated Beetle launched, which dropped the New Beetle moniker. This update saw revised styling, a car that’s wider, longer and lower, and also fitted with a more upscale cabin.
2014 Volkswagen Beetle GSR, 2013 Beetle Turbo, 2013 Beetle Convertible. Click image to enlarge
Engines/Trim: Look for a used beetle with gas or diesel power, manual, automatic or Direct Shift Gearbox (DSG) transmissions, and front-wheel drive. Many used models will pack Volkswagen’s 2.5L five-cylinder gas engine, while sportier models got the 2.0T gas engine. A four-cylinder turbodiesel engine powered TDI models.
What Owners Like: Not surprisingly, styling, exclusivity, a sense of community, and generous headroom thanks to the dome-shaped body were commonly praised attributes of the New Beetle. On many models, especially those with TDI diesel power, the fuel mileage was rated highly. Performance was rated highly on models with turbocharged gas engines, too.
What Owners Dislike: Typical complaints centre around a plasticky cabin on older models from this generation, a small rear seat, a sometimes clumsy DSG gearbox, if equipped, and an overly-soft suspension on some models.
Here are some owner reviews on autoTRADER.ca.
The Test Drive: With so many variations of the new-age Beetle possible over the years, we’ll focus primarily on some standard checks that are applicable to the model’s unique characteristics, drivelines and body styles, as well as a few specifics.
2013 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible. Click image to enlarge
In any used Beetle, start with a check of all powered windows and door locks, the controls for each, and ensuring proper functionality of the remote keyfobs. Power windows that that work from one switch but not another will require a new switch or some attention to the wiring. Windows that don’t work at all, or seem to be binding or straining, are likely suffering from a mechanical failure of some part, possibly the regulator, inside of the door. Also, be sure the glass panels aren’t scraping against one another when the windows are in motion, which could result from power window components that were bolted into the door without sufficient fastening.
Move onto checks of all other electronics. Turn signals, headlights, the stereo system, heated seats, the navigation (if fitted) and any other electrically-powered system should be scrutinized for proper operation.
Check that the climate control system works as expected, especially when it comes to changing the temperature. Some owners have reported a failed blend door, which will make changing system temperature difficult. Confirm proper operation of the fuel door release latch, several times, too.