The Volkswagen Beetle has undoubtedly been around for a long time and a favorite in the small car market. In 1998, when the Volkswagen New Beetle made its debut in the North American market, Beetle enthusiasts rejoiced at the return of "The People's Car." It had been almost two decades since the last VW Beetle had been sold in the United States and to complicate things further the original Beetle was still being sold in Mexico and wouldn't be discontinued until 2003. After more than 10 years of the New Beetle does it still excite consumers or are the days of a long running design gone?

The New Beetle (now the not so New Beetle) has had a long run for a modern production car and with fairly minor changes to the exterior and the interior. In fact, things are being removed from the New Beetle options list instead of being added. For 2006, Volkswagen took away both the 1.8T and TDI versions of the New Beetle and replaced them with a single option—A 2.5-liter five-cylinder inline engine that produces about 150 hp. This setup continues for the 2009 model year as do the comments from reviews that the five-cylinder motor lacks performance and tops out well before the 6000 RPM redline.

2007 Volkswagen New Beetle Convertible 2dr Auto PZEV exterior front upper left

2007 Volkswagen New Beetle Convertible 2dr Auto PZEV exterior front upper left

To be completely honest it feels like Volkswagen has neglected this once very popular throwback design. With the engine option reductions the New Beetle can’t capitalize on the Clean Diesel market like the 2008 Jetta TDI (see Green Car of the Year Award) does or capitalize on the sports car market since the five-cylinder lacks the punch of the Turbo New Beetle (what happened to the cool Turbonium?). This is further punctuated with the fact that a number of options have been taken off the options list like: front floor mats as a standard option, fog lights, leather seating, and rain-sensing wipers. Personally, I think the only thing keeping this car alive in Volkswagen’s line up is the New Beetle Convertible. Otherwise it appears that the Beetle may be destined for another extinction.

Bottom line—It is sad to say, but the New Beetle may be in the same position as the 2009 Chrysler PT Cruiser, a forgotten icon of the late ‘90s. Just my hunch, but I doubt even the 2009 Volkswagen New Beetle Blush will be able to save the Beetle from the inevitable. 


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