New Beetle fad
VW’s 2000 Beetle has none of the old-time blues, writesGRAHAMSMITH
IT SEEMS we were on a nostalgia trip when the new millennium arrived. Carmakers unleashed a raft of born-again models aimed at rekindling our passion for the past.
It’s always a risk recreating a classic. If it works you can look like heroes, but if the world has moved on and you fail to inspire a new generation you can end up on the dole queue.
The most notable recreations of the time were the BMW-built Mini and VW’s new Beetle. Neither has set the world on fire; they could both be considered curiosities rather than modern classics.
WITH a capacity of 2.0 litres the Beetle’s four-cylinder engine had a single overhead camshaft, was fuelinjected and put out 85kW at 5200 revs and 170Nm at 2400 revs.
It had a five-speed manual gearbox or four-speed auto, with power going to the front wheels.
There were power windows, power mirrors, power steering, remote central locking, adjustable steering column, six-speaker CD sound, fog lamps and floor mats.
A turbocharged model was released in 2001 and had extra zip in the form of a 1.8-litre double overhead camshaft turbocharged four-cylinder engine with 110kW and 210Nm.
A more affordable 1.6-litre version came a year later. It had a single overhead camshaft four-cylinder engine with 75kW and 148Nm.
The range was completed in 2003 with a Cabrio. It had an 85kW 2.0-litre engine.
ON THE LOT
THE Beetle is not a practical car for a family. It’s aimed at the young and young-at-heart who don’t have to transport more than a couple.
The 1.6-litre Beetle hatch and its better-equipped Ikon cousin can be bought for $10,000-$20,000.
To have the 2.0-litre performance you need to spend $9000-$22,000.
For the 1.8-litre turbo model you’ll need to spend $13,000-$25,000.
Then there’s the open-top fun of the Cabrio, and for that you’ll spend $22,000-$26,000.
IN THE SHOP
THE build quality is good and there are no major problems. The only irritation could come from rapid brake wear. It’s no worse than other European cars and comes from the soft pads used for good braking performance.
CONFIDENT handling gives the new Beetle a huge edge over its old cousin, and the safety picture is improved with anti-skid brakes standard, along with electronic brakeforce distribution.
Dual front airbags, seatbelt pretensioners and seatbelt force limiters are a second line of crash protection.
AT THE PUMP
Look to get 7.0-9.0 litres/100km from the 1.6-litre Beetle in normal use, and 8.5-10.0 litres/100km from the larger 2.0-litre model.
THE BOTTOM LINE
CUTE hatch marries the past with the present without any old-time blues.
Beetle mania: a modern Volkswagen Beetle with leopard paintwork and (below) a Beetle cabrio.