- Iconic design
- Well-executed convertible
- Roomy front seating
- Lackluster five-cylinder engine
- Unimpressive fuel economy
- Rear-seat headroom
- Concerning side crash results
People flock to the 2009 Volkswagen New Beetle for its looks—but performance, safety, and interior space are not its best attributes.
The 2009 Volkswagen New Beetle coupe and convertible are based on a previous generation of the VW Golf/Rabbit. The Beetle had its last update in 2006, but for the past decade, the Beetle has remained largely the same. It's starting to show its age—despite the fact that its design continues to draw fans.
A 2.5-liter inline five-cylinder is the only engine available on the 2009 Volkswagen New Beetle these days. Long gone are the more exciting turbo and turbo-diesel four-cylinder engines that were both faster and more fuel-efficient. The old-tech five is rated at 150 horsepower and works through either a five-speed manual or a six-speed automatic transmission. It pushes the New Beetle with a minimum of enthusiasm, yet gets only 20 mpg city, 29 highway with the automatic transmission in the coupe, and 20/28 mpg with the manual transmission in the coupe and the automatic in the convertible.
Handling is pretty dull in the 2009 New Beetle, and the engine is somewhat disappointing, but ride quality is a plus; the New Beetle soaks up larger bumps without wallowing.
On the inside, the 2009 New Beetle presents some problems in terms of available space. The dash slopes far away from the driver, and the roofline cuts into headroom in the cramped backseats, as well as into trunk room (the New Beetle's engine is up front, against Beetle tradition). In short, the rounded shape makes the 2009 Volkswagen New Beetle look larger from the outside than it is inside.
The convertible version of the 2009 Volkswagen New Beetle keeps the signature roofline arc and excess of front headroom, as well as a shortage of rear headroom. There's a noticeable decrease in rear cargo space (5 cubic feet in the convertible versus 12 cubic feet in the coupe). The convertible option adds heft but balances it with a sunnier disposition. The three-layer fabric top lowers in 13 seconds.
NHTSA (the federal government agency) rates the 2009 Volkswagen New Beetle at four stars for front crash protection, four for driver side protection, and three stars for passenger side protection. Stability control is standard, along with anti-lock brakes and front airbags.
More advanced features such as a navigation system and Bluetooth are unavailable on the 2009 New Beetle. Front floor mats are no longer standard, while fog lights, leather seating, and rain-sensing wipers are off the equipment list entirely. A Cold Weather Package, which includes heated front seats and heated windshield washer nozzles, is standard for 2009.