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STYLING | 7 out of 10
handsome, competent, and well finished
a wholly appealing automobile that still draws smiles
a cute alternative to more traditional compacts
The rounded, insect-like shape that endeared the original Volkswagen Beetle to a generation of Americans is alive and well in the 2008 Volkswagen New Beetle. Two years ago, the New Beetle got a subtle reskin that “has the Beetle's ovoid form looking a little more buffed. Fender and bumper lines are cleaner and wheel arches more sharply defined, while head and taillights are re-shaped,” notes Automedia.
The Volkswagen New Beetle is available as a two-door hatchback or a two-door convertible. Kelley Blue Book says the 2008 Volkswagen New Beetle "remains a popular choice among those seeking a less conventional mode of transportation." Cars.com gets it right in saying that "nothing else on the road looks like the modern-day Beetle." They add, it’s “cute and appealing.”
Car and Driver, though, says the New Beetle has been “garnering adoration and unnerving otherwise confident men since 2003,” and points out “its inherent and flamboyant femininity” while noting that even the convertible is “losing its head-turning ability.”
Edmunds describes the car as "aged," too. The New Beetle is based on the old VW Golf and was first rolled out in 1994 as a concept car, hitting the U.S. in 1998. Edmunds says, "the New Beetle's oh-so-cool veneer has worn thin as it faces strong competition from more modern rivals." There’s a change in tone when it comes to the convertible: "the Beetle convertible makes an especially classic and polished statement" with its “retro chic.”
Inside the Volkswagen, 2008’s New Beetle uses cuteness as a weapon. There’s a dash-mounted bud vase, blue lighting, and round, bulbous dash shapes that are friendly in appearance. “Inside, driver and front passenger are removed from the windshield by a vast expanse of a flat dash top,” Automedia says. The most recent upgrades to the interior include “a new single-bezel instrument cluster with chrome accents, and a redesigned center console with upgraded cup holders.” Kelley Blue Book reports that the instrument panel configuration "takes some getting used to as it spans the considerable distance between the windshield and the driver and front-seat passenger."
TheCarConnection.com has sampled many New Beetles from Volkswagen, 2008 through 1998 editions. Based on a previous generation of the Volkswagen Golf/Rabbit, the New Beetle coupe and convertible were updated in 2006 in a very subtle way. While the bubbly shape remains instantly recognizable--and the interior as well trimmed as ever--the New Beetle is showing its age, particularly now that other heritage cars like the Ford Mustang and MINI Cooper have undergone complete transformations.
The 2008 Volkswagen New Beetle is trapped somewhere between “aged” and timeless.