SEDONA, Ariz. — Volkswagen has been thumping the podium with its revival of the Beetle for a full year now in the United States, but Beetlemania shows no signs of letting up.
Give plenty of credit to this cute but competent machine for the marque's triumphant rebound in the North American market: 75,000 have been delivered so far, and countless people have been drawn to showrooms by what VW calls the "magnet for the brand."
Now, to ensure continued sales success and to answer the calls of enthusiasts, the Wolfsburg automaker has stuffed a more potent engine under the Bug's short nose, inspiring the unofficial "Super Beetle" moniker. The Car Connection drove this newly released version recently through the majestic high country of Sedona, Arizona, and we were pleasantly surprised by its potent powerplant.
Iron first, velvet glove
The Super Beetle's iron fist is the remarkable 1.8-liter light-turbo four-cylinder engine best known for powering the Audi A4. With five-valve-per-cylinder technology, it makes 150 horsepower at a zingy 5800 rpm yet delivers its 156 foot-pounds of torque as low as 2200 on the tach. Best, it achieves even greater fuel economy than the base 2.0-liter powerplant. A four-speed automatic is an option over the standard five-speed gearbox.
2000 VW 'Super Beetle' 1.8T interior
Flower power + good ergonomics = New Beetle interior
No Beetle wears model designations on the rear hatch, but the new 1.8T (as it is officially known) sports an active spoiler to set it apart from the base and diesel models. Mounted above the rear glass, it automatically rises at 93 mph (150 kph) to improve stability but can be activated on command via an under-dash switch.