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2005 Volkswagen Beetle Compact Coupe and Convertible

New Car Review of the 2005 Volkswagen Beetle Compact Coupe and Convertible

Base MSRP Range: $16,570 - $26,525

Base Invoice Range: $15,844 - $24,783

MSRP As Tested: Not Available

Versions: 2.0 GL & GLS, 1.9 GLS TDI, GLS 1.8 T.

Vehicle Category: Compact Coupe and Convertible

Engine Location: Front Engine

Drive Wheels: Front-Wheel Drive .

Standard Engine: 2.0-liter, Single Overhead Cam, 8-valves, I-4, 115 - horsepower at 5400 rpm and 125 lb-ft torque at 3200 rpm.

Optional Engine: 2.0-liter, Dual Overhead Cam, 8-valves, I-4 Turbocharged, 150 - horsepower at 5,800 rpm and 162 lb-ft torque at 2,200 - 4,200 rpm.

Transmission: Six-speed automatic, Five-speed manual.

Fuel Economy (city/hwy): Automatic 21/31, manual 24/30.

Optional Engine: TDI: 1.9-liter, 8-valves, I-4 Turbocharged direct injection , 100 - horsepower at 4,000 rpm and 177- horsepower at 1,800-2,400 rpm.

Transmission: Five-speed manual, Five-speed automatic.

Fuel Economy (city/hwy): Automatic 32/43, manual 38/46.

Standard Safety Features: Driver and passenger airbags, Front side airbags, Automatic roll bars (convertible), Four-wheel anti-lock brake system, Front-seat active head restraints, Emergency inside trunk release (convertible).

Competition: Acura RSX, Mini Cooper, Scion tC, Toyota Celica.

Ever since Volkswagen introduced the New Beetle, it's been the cutest car on the road.

Sure, there are other worthy contenders for the cuteness title today -- most notably the Mini Cooper -- but there's still nothing quite as lovable, sweet, darling, precious and adorable as this spunky little Volkswagen. It just makes you want to give it a big bear hug.

There's a problem with this extreme cuteness, though, and it's not the fact that people with even the tiniest speck of macho-man tendencies will refuse to buy it.

The problem? It's a novelty. A toy.

Volkswagen knows this, and that's why the company has rolled out gimmicks each year to keep interest in a car that relies almost exclusively on styling to sell. People can buy a Golf if they want a better interior, bigger cargo space and more practical design, but they can only get the oh-so-cute look from a Beetle.

After its introduction in 1998, a time when Volkswagen could hardly make enough Beetles to meet intense demand, VW has steadily churned out new features to keep public interest after the novelty wore off. In 2000, it was the 1.8T model, followed by the Turbo S in 2002 and the convertible in 2003.

For 2005, the biggest news is a new, high-tech diesel engine designed to get good gas mileage, accelerate quickly and be quieter than other diesels.

With a cumbersome name even for a German car, the $20,010 New Beetle GLS TDI-PD coupe comes with a 100-horsepower, four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine that is rated at 46 miles per gallon on the highway. Those are all figures Volkswagen should be proud of, especially at a time of uncertainty in the oil market and the probability of higher prices at the pump.

VW didn't deliver a diesel model for me to test, so I can't vouch for it.

Instead, I got to drive a version that I like even more -- the 1.8T convertible -- which suited me just fine. It's a fun car to drive, generating 150 horsepower from a turbocharged engine that still gets decent mileage.

It's quiet with the top up, handles well, accelerates fast enough to get you in trouble, and has a solid, high quality interior that's matched by very few cars at its price. Volkswagen and Audi -- VW's parent company -- are known for making the most well-built interiors in the industry, and while the Beetle doesn't quite match some of VW's recently redesigned cars it certainly beats other vehicles in its price range.

Assuming you're fond of its rather feminine styling, there are few reasons to dislike this car. Its back seat is a tad small and there's very little trunk space, but it's a strong offering in virtually all other respects.

The biggest downside this year is that a redesigned Beetle is coming in 2006. If you're a Beetle fanatic who won't mind spending a little more for a better car in a few months, it might be best just to wait for the new version to be released.

In the mean time, the current Beetle is still the cutest car anywhere.

Pros? It's still the cutest car on the road, with great style and good performance with a turbocharged engine.

Cons? A new Beetle is on the way, so people who can live without the convertible top may want to wait for the improved version.

Ratings (1-10)

  • Style: 10
  • Performance: 7
  • Price: 7
  • Handling: 6
  • Ride: 5
  • Comfort: 6
  • Quality: 8
  • Overall: 8

More Data

Where Built: Germany

Major Options: OnStar assistance system, Satellite radio, Leather upholstery, 17-inch alloy wheels, Antiskid system,

Seating: 4-5.

Number of Rows: 2.

Length in Inches: 161.1 - 164.9

Warranties: 4 years/50,000 miles bumper to bumper, 12 years/unlimited miles corrosion protection, 4 years/50,000 miles Roadside assistance.

Weight in Pounds: 2,972 lbs - 3,217 lbs.

Cargo Capacity in Pounds: 780 lbs. - 811 lbs.

Gross Maximum Vehicle Weight in Pounds: Not available.

Towing Capacity in Pounds: Not Available.

Gas Tank Capacity in Gallons: 14.5

Destination Charge: $615