July 13, 1998
"Dude Magnet" was one of the best descriptions offered for the 1998 Volkswagen New Beetle.
The New Beetle provides the driver with immediate positive self-esteem, instant popularity and a fresh attitude. People collect around the car where ever you park, want to talk about it and take a ride. When you are driving down the street people honk and give you a thumbs up and a big smile. And the manufacturer's suggested retail price of between $15,200 and $21,685 may beat a collection of self-help books, dating service fees and psychological therapy.
Driving this car was the most fun I have had in my many years of test driving. It was like having a community car. Almost everyone related to it in some way. I heard Beetle stories from the 60s, met more new people than I could imagine and with a bright red test car I felt like a ray of sunshine on the street.
The shape resembles the old Beetle but it is a brand new design inside and out.
The engine is in front and the car is larger at 161.1 inches in length, 67.9 inches wide, and has a wheelbase of 98.9 inches.
It is a one color, one smooth body design with the headlights and tail lights integrated into the body. From the back, the lines make it appear as if the car is smiling.
Two engines are available: the 2.0 liter115 hp 4-cylinder gas engine and a 1.9 liter 90 hp Turbo Direct Injection 4-cylinder diesel.
It can be ordered with 5-speed manual or a 4-speed automatic transmission.
The gas mileage is impressive. With the 5-speed, the gas mileage is 23 mpg city and 29 mpg highway; diesel is 41 mpg in the city and 48 mpg highway. With the 4-speed, gas mileage is 22 mpg (city) and 27 mpg (highway), and diesel mileage is 34 mpg (city) and 44 mpg (highway).
Equipped with front wheel drive, four-wheel disc brakes, air conditioning, six-speaker stereo and the front dash mounted flower vase which comes standard on every car, you are ready to go.
The drive is smooth and solid. The car corners well and the visibility is good.
It is comfortable to sit in the front seats. The front seats can be easily flipped forward for back seat access.
Trunk space is good. The back seats fold down for increased cargo space.
The gauges are illuminated in indigo blue with red indicator needles which gets your attention.
The New Beetle has side airbags that are integrated into the front seats, and in case of an accident, new technology provides crumble zones that help protect the central structure. This is definitely a car to test drive yourself. You can't help but smile and the world will smile back at you.