1 Jan 2000
By CHRIS HARRIS
VW’s New Beetle springs from an entirely different inspiration to that which created the original in the late 1930s.
This is no people's car, aimed at putting the working class on wheels. Rather, it is a trendy, niche product aimed at those who can afford to spend quite a bit of money to be different to other motorists.
Underneath beats the heart of a 1998-2004 VW Golf IV.
Where the original used an air-cooled, rear-mounted, flat-four "boxer" engine, the new car is front-wheel drive, powered by a conventional water-cooled inline four-cylinder engine.
Equipment levels include anti-lock brakes, radio/CD player, remote central locking and power windows and rear view mirrors all standard.
Originally the only engine available was a 85kW/170Nm 2.0-litre OHC 8V four-cylinder unit, allayed to a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic gearbox.
Audi’s 110kW/210Nm 1.8-litre DOHC 20V four-cylinder turbo unit was fitted to the Beetle Turbo model from September ’01.
From January ’02 another Golf engine – a 75kW/148Nm 1.6 OHC 8V four-cylinder unit – arrived as the base motor.
VW released a four-seater soft-top version of the New Beetle in the middle of 2003 – with an electric top and powered by a 85kW/172Nm version of the 2.0 OHC 8V engine, and matched to a six-speed Tiptronic automatic gearbox, or a five-speed manual unit.
A minor facelift was introduced in late ’05, with new trim and revised bumpers being the biggest visual change.
VW added yet another engine – a 77kW/250Nm 1.9-litre turbo-diesel four-cylinder unit, but only available in a five-speed manual transmission.
Meanwhile the Beetle Turbo was dropped, and a new Beetle Miami base model, with the 75kW/148Nm 1.6 OHC 8V engine, was implemented after its successful run as a limited edition model in 2004/5.