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PERFORMANCE | 6 out of 10
With 3000 pounds to lug around, performance borders on the canine
feels livelier once under way
Reviewers from across the Web had good things to say about the 2008 Volkswagen New Beetle's handling, but less kind words for its engine.
While diesels and turbo fours have been offered in the past, a 2.5-liter in-line five-cylinder is the only engine available on the 2008 Volkswagen New Beetle these days. It's rated at 150 hp and works through either a five-speed manual or a six-speed automatic transmission. According to Automobile, "it runs out of huff well before it reaches its 6000 rpm limit"--unsurprising since it weighs about 3,000 pounds. Car and Driver says, “the VW returns an 8.8-second huff to 60 mph,” not an impressive figure but light-years beyond the performance of the original Beetle. ConsumerGuide reports that the "slow-revving 5-cylinder engine needs full throttle for best takeoffs."
The 2008 Volkswagen New Beetle is offered with a five-speed manual or a six-speed automatic. In this case, the automatic “may be a better choice than the manual gearbox,” Automedia reports. “Spreading the power over six cogs results in smoother, less stressed performance.” However, Cars.com says, “The manual gearbox operates easily, and the clutch is light.” Edmunds says that regardless of whether the vehicle is equipped with the manual or six-speed automatic, "acceleration is merely adequate," while "fuel economy is similarly lackluster for a compact." Gas mileage is good news for fans of the automatic Volkswagen; 2008’s New Beetle gets 20/29 mpg with the automatic transmission in the coupe, and 20/28 mpg with the manual transmission in the coupe and the automatic in the convertible.
Hot handling isn’t the New Beetle’s mission on the planet, but it rides well. Car and Driver says, “this is not a corner bomber.” Torque steer is an unanticipated issue, they say, “when you poke the gas hard.” Edmunds says, “It isn't a spirited experience, but excels at what it was built for--cruising and being seen cruising in,” and “the suspension is on the soft side of sporty.” Cars.com points out that “the car also delivers a superior ride; the suspension absorbs plenty of road imperfections,” and “steering feel and feedback are excellent.”
The 2008 Volkswagen New Beetle is probably more fun to drive in its convertible form--just don't look for sporty acceleration here.