In this 2007 Volkswagen New Beetle convertible, white with "white leatherette" interior, I was fully aware that it looked as though I was driving my 17-year-old daughter's car.
I don't have a 17-year-old daughter, but if I did, I probably wouldn't buy her a 2007 Volkswagen New Beetle convertible. I mean, it's a nice car, but with her grades? She'd be lucky to inherit Grandma's Pontiac. She needs to learn a little discipline and fiscal responsibility before she's ready for a car like this.
Admittedly, girls do look cute in VW Beetle convertibles. My first girlfriend, Wendy, drove one, a 1967 model. But it was so much trouble putting the top up and down, she'd just leave it in place. That way, in the rain, it leaked less, but only slightly.
Not a problem with the 2007 model: Flip a lever above the rear-view mirror and press a button, and the top goes down, assembling itself into a big lump in the back, as most convertibles used to. It's quite different from the Volkswagen Eos tested here in October. The Eos uses a retractable hardtop that stows itself in the trunk. That is one reason that the Eos costs $36,985, and this New Beetle convertible costs $26,630. That still isn't cheap, but the Eos wasn't $10,000 more fun to drive.
This New Beetle worked pretty well, though I'm still not a fan of its 2.5-liter, 150-horsepower five-cylinder engine. There are smoother, more spirited engines in the VW inventory, and even with a hard-working six-speed automatic transmission, acceleration was tepid. Fuel mileage is EPA-rated at 22 miles per gallon city, 30 mpg highway.
Though the regular New Beetle convertible has a base price of $22,240, this one was the special "Triple White" edition, which started at $25,990 and had no options, only a $640 transportation fee. In automotive parlance, "triple white" means white car, white interior, white top, but the test model had a black top. "Double white," then. It comes with a "protective top cover" that slips over the top when it's down, but who would bother? This package adds some otherwise optional features, such as an automatic transmission and 17-inch alloy wheels.
The New Beetle convertible has a nice roster of safety features, including side air bags and "automatic rollover supports," which are two steel beams hidden under the rear headrests that pneumatically deploy as soon as a rollover is detected. Anti-lock brakes and electronic stability control are also included. Handling is crisp, and the ride is fine.
The top-down profile of this New Beetle may be startlingly similar to Wendy's 1967-model old Beetle, but this is a thoroughly modern car. With a better engine, my imaginary daughter might stand a chance of getting one someday. If her grades improve.