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Expert Reviews 2 of 3
By Tom Strongman
April 27, 2007
With white paint, white seats and white trim, the New Beetle convertible looked as sweet as a hunk of cotton candy. It was so bright it almost glowed.
The triple-white model is reminiscent of the last Beetle convertible that was discontinued after 1979. Special features include 17-inch alloy wheels, heated seats, heated outside mirrors and an AM/FM stereo CD player with iPod jack. It has a base price of $25,990, compared to $22,120 for the regular convertible.
Convertible bodies are often less rigid than sedan bodies. It's possible to detect a little cowl shake over bumps, and the doors sound noisy when they are shut.
The engine in the New Beetle is VW's 2.5-liter, 150-horsepower five-cylinder. Most five-cylinder engines have a slightly syncopated exhaust note that leaves me wanting for something more sonorous, but they perform nicely nevertheless. VW's engine has the torque of a six and the economy of a four. It has dual overhead camshafts, four valves per cylinder and maintenance-free hydraulic valve lifters. The Environmental Protection Agency rates the fuel economy at 22 miles per gallon in the city and 30 on the highway.
Acceleration is modest, but then this isn't intended to be a performance car. VW indicates it takes a bit more than nine seconds to hit 60 miles per hour. The engine pulls well from low speeds.
The test car had a six-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission that has both a Sport mode and a manual-shift mode.
It's critical for a convertible top to be easy to operate, and the New Beetle's three-layer cloth top retracts electronically after releasing one latch. The three layers do a good job of absorbing sound when the top is up. When the top is folded, it stacks above the back seat so it doesn't intrude on the already small trunk. A folding mesh wind blocker can be attached over the back seat to keep wind from buffeting the driver and passenger. With the blocker in place and windows up, the cabin is almost draft-free at city speeds.
Two aluminum posts behind the rear seats pop up for rollover protection in the event of an accident.
It took me a while to get comfortable with the New Beetle's driving position because the driver sits well back in the car and the windshield is far forward. The deep dash made me feel almost as if I were driving a small minivan.
The perforated leather seats have good lateral support, and they slide forward for access to the rather small rear seat. The steering wheel tilts and telescopes.
Safety features include side airbags with head protection, anti-lock brakes, traction control and vehicle stability control.
Price The base price of the test car was $25,990. The sticker price was $26,630.
Warranty Four years or 50,000 miles, with a five-year, 60,000-mile powertrain warranty.