2010 Volkswagen New Beetle Coupe Review

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The Car Connection Expert Review

Bengt Halvorson Bengt Halvorson Deputy Editor
February 6, 2010

The 2010 Volkswagen New Beetle still has an attractive shape, but not much else about this car is very appealing.

Here in this Bottom Line covering the 2010 Volkswagen New Beetle, the editors of TheCarConnection.com have brought you their own take on this small coupe and convertible, based on multiple driving experiences and comparisons to rival vehicles. And to give you the most complete picture of how the New Beetle stacks up to top rivals, TheCarConnection.com has also combed the Web and included some of the most useful excerpts from other source in a full review.

Based on a previous generation of Volkswagen’s Golf/Rabbit, the 2010 New Beetle is no longer remarkable in any way but with respect to styling. It remains available as a coupe or convertible, and the convertible is one of the better choices for two who want to cruise in comfort.

The Beetle has been around for about 10 years and has seen no major changes to its exterior in that time; that’s a good thing, as the iconic design has held up well, even if it’s no longer a head-turner. Its interior, however, could have used a more serious spruce-up long ago (it got a minor dress-up for 2006). The interior design comes across as a little plasticky and gimmicky for most tastes, and the long expanse of dashboard between the driver and windshield is a sign that the New Beetle was designed from the outside in.

The more exciting turbocharged and turbodiesel (TDI) four-cylinder engines that used to power the New Beetle are long gone; all that remains is a 2.5-liter inline five-cylinder that neither performs well nor impresses for fuel economy. Through either a five-speed manual or a six-speed automatic transmission, the engine is relatively smooth but comes up short when you ask for brisk performance. EPA fuel economy ratings are just 20 mpg in the city and 28 or 29 mpg on the highway. Handling is pretty dull, too, but it’s very maneuverable. The convertible is noticeably heavier, so performance suffers a bit.

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With a design that clearly favors the exterior silhouette over interior accommodations, the 2010 Volkswagen New Beetle makes pronounced sacrifices in terms of backseat space. Headroom in back is severely limited, though it's acceptable in coupes. In convertibles, you’ll be hard-pressed to fit any adult back there as the contour of the seat is different. Although there’s plenty of space in front, the driving position can take some getting used to, as the dash slopes far away from the driver. Ride quality is a plus; the New Beetle soaks up larger bumps without wallowing.

The New Beetle convertible is one of the best-executed drop-tops for those who simply want a practical vehicle that accommodates two for open-air cruising. The 2010 New Beetle convertible retains the coupe’s distinctive roofline but in addition to the reduced backseat space sacrifices quite a bit of cargo space (5 cubic feet versus 12 for the coupe). The three-layer fabric top lowers in 13 seconds.

The 2010 Volkswagen New Beetle sorely lacks other features. In a clear admission that VW is no longer putting any significant development into the model (it plans to discontinue the model in a year or two), no factory navigation system is available, and Bluetooth hands-free isn’t even an option. Many of the features once offered on the New Beetle, such as leather upholstery, fog lamps, and rain-sensing wipers, are no longer available. A Cold Weather Package, which includes heated front seats and heated windshield washer nozzles, is now standard, and two special editions for 2010—a Red Rock edition and the aptly named Final Edition—add a few extra features.

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