photo by Brenda Priddy
2002 Volkswagen New Beetle Turbo S by Marty Padgett (12/31/2001)
I love it when gender stuff gets into cars. At a recent press preview for the new Beetle Turbo S, executives detailed all the things that make this what they call "a more masculine Beetle." With six speeds, 180 horsepower, lots of leather and stainless steel inside, and a speed-activated rear spoiler out back, I kind of knew what they meant.
Then one of the executives caught himself. "Of course this doesn't mean it's for men only," he said.
"Not at all," said another. "We expect women to buy this car too."
"But it will definitely attract more men to the model," said the first.
"As well as keeping women interested."
"Definitely. My wife loves the turbo Beetle..."
At this stage, all I wanted to do was stand up and say, "Hey guys, it's okay. It's a boy Beetle, and that's fine. Of course you want to get more guys into Beetles, and the Turbo is a great way to do it. You don't have to apologize for it. Really."
I admit, however, that this would have been grossly unfair of me. Because if they hadn't gone through the boy/girl routine, I'd only have gotten on their case with needling questions about what makes the Turbo masculine and the regular Beetle feminine.
Sometimes cargirls can be a pain in the butt.
And the truth is, the regular Beetle hasn't been much of a guy car. If there's one thing that's likely to turn a guy off (so far as cars are concerned), it's the word "cute." And that's what the regular Beetle is.
So is the Turbo, but it has some brawn too. A top speed electronically governed at 130 mph. Zero to sixty in 7.4 seconds. A nicely tuned howl to the engine. A starker, more techy interior. And that satisfyingly driverly six-speed manual shift.
True, it's not exactly a Rambo of a car. More like a Tom Cruise — clean-shaven, charming and fast. But definitely a boy.
So break out the cigars, guys, enjoy the drive, put some hair on your chests, and hope that when the convertible Beetles arrive next fall, some of those will be turbocharged too.