By David Colman
For: Blatantly idiosyncratic appearance, Porsche 911-look alloys
Against: Jerky DSG gearbox, Limited use rear seat
VW has gone to great lengths to distinguish this 21st Century Beetle from its immediate predecessor, the 20th Century New Beetle. The New Beetle hit the market in 1998, and has had a very successful sales run for the past 13 years. Now, the Newest Beetle debuts as a 2012 model available in 2 versions, base (with 2.5 liter, 5 cylinder engine) and Turbo (with 2.0 liter inline turbo 4). Although eventually, 5 and 6 speed manual transmissions will be offered, first deliveries of both models will include the extra cost DSG automatic gearbox. The base model so equipped retails for $24,495, while the Turbo lists for $27,495.
Our test Turbo Beetle also included leather seat coverings, navigation and sunroof, options which boosted delivery price to $29,865. While the loaded, DSG-equipped Beetle is not limited to the one per center crowd, it’s hardly the People’s Car it once was touted to be. Is a $30,000 Beetle worth the money? On looks alone, it definitely is. This one, especially when finished in red, is an eyeball magnet in a sea of Jelly Bellies. If you don’t want attention, do not buy a Turbo Beetle. The latest version looks like a New Beetle that’s been flattened by a brick. A couple of years ago, a line of diminutive toy cars called Fat Boyz was popular with the Hot Wheels crowd, and this Turbo looks just like one of those intriguing caricatures. It’s been significantly recontoured to the tune of 3.3 inches of extra width, 6 inches of extra length and half an inch less height. Instead of the New Beetle’s tiresomely cute 3 arch design, the new Turbo’s flapjack proportions look more menacing than cute. The substantial rear wing, flattened roofline, laid back windshield angle, and porky 18 inch alloys make the new Turbo look like something George Barris would have done to the old one.