Volkswagen New Beetle (1998)
The new Bug is basically a new VW Golf with some awesome plastic surgery.That makes it a perfectly acceptable, very nice little car.
But, it's the new Bug. When you walk up to it, you get giddy. Everyonewho sees it has the same experience. It's different and it's fun, plainand simple. VW did a great job designing this next-generation Bug. Peoplewere stopping us on the street, pulling up next to us and smiling. Thiscar makes people happy, and that alone affords it our recommendation.
The new VW Bug is an absolute babe magnet. If you had this car and apuppy...well, you'd need a stick to beat the babes away. In fact, it's notonly a babe magnet, it's also a hunk magnet, an old person magnet, kidmagnet, geek magnet...you name it. You can't help but smile and stare whenyou see one driving by.
This is a wonderful car for two people. VW has placed the front seatsright in the middle of the hump of the classic VW body design. So thefolks in the front have tons of headroom. That also makes it safer thanmost small cars, because the driver is right in the middle of the car.
On the downside, the rear seat is terribly cramped. Anyone over about fivefeet, nine inches will have a tough time being comfortable back there. Ifthe people in the front are willing to put their seats forward enough, youmight be able to slouch and get somewhat comfortable. Otherwise, we'drecommend you forget about the back seats. Leave the back for your dogs!
The new Bug has some great touches--for example, a simple speedometer inthe middle of the instrument cluster--with great purple lighting. They'veeven brought back those old straps above the front windows, just like theold Bugs.
The new VW Bug has two major downsides. First, the A pillar--that frontstructural member that runs between the roof and the body alongside thewindshield--is dangerous. It's too wide, and VW has placed it too farforward. This problem was created when VW placed the seats in the middleof the hump, effectively moving the A pillar forward, from the point ofview of the driver. If the driver is making a turn--particularly a leftturn--it's difficult to see if anything is in your way. Another drawbackto having the A pillars so far sloped out? The dashboard is about fivefeet deep. We wouldn't be surprised to hear of people losing luggage,small children and pets in that forward space. Heck, there's room therefor a bookshelf.
Second, the underhood area is extremely tight. This was a compromise tomake the shape of the car "Bug-like." This car is going to be verydifficult to service. Moving the A pillar back also would have correctedthis problem, by creating more room in the engine compartment, but it wouldhave taken away from the good looks and babe-magnetism.
Who should buy this new Bug? If you're at a time in your life when youdon't need to worry about making room for kids, or if you're just lookingfor some fun, basic transportation, then take a look at the new Bug. Or,if you've decided to get a small car, and want a particularly safe one,this car is also worth considering.
The VW Bug has certainly benefited from a 20-year hiatus. VW has done awonderful job. It's instantly recognizable as a Bug, but it's also beenbeefed up and modernized. This car has all kinds of things that the oldBug never had--like body integrity, for starters. And air conditioning.And a much safer design. Finally, as you've probably heard, the new Bugcomes with a bud vase. What more could you possibly want?
View cars.com model report on this vehicle.