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Volkswagen Beetle GLS (2000)

SEE ALSO: Volkswagen Buyer's Guide

By Tom Hagin

Volkswagen Full Line Video footage (14:04)

     Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price              $ 16,850
     Price As Tested                                    $ 17,685
     Engine Type               SOHC 8-valve 2.0 Liter I4 w/SMFI*
     Engine Size                                 121 cid/1984 cc
     Horsepower                                   115 @ 5200 RPM
     Torque (lb-ft)                               122 @ 2600 RPM
     Wheelbase/Width/Length                   98.9"/67.9"/161.1"
     Transmission                              Five-Speed Manual
     Curb Weight                                     2847 pounds
     Fuel Capacity                                  14.5 gallons
     Tires  (F/R)                             P205/55R16 H-rated         
     Brakes (F/R)                          Disc (ABS)/disc (ABS)
     Drive Train                  Front-engine/front-wheel drive
     Vehicle Type                        Four-passenger/two-door
     Domestic Content                              Seven percent
     Coefficient of Drag (Cd.)                              0.38


     EPA Economy, miles per gallon
        city/highway/average                            24/31/28
     0-60 MPH                                       10.0 seconds
     1/4 Mile (E.T.)                     17.5 seconds @ 77.5 MPH

    * Sequential multi-port fuel injection

After nearly three years on the market, Volkswagen's New Beetle continues to be a smash hit with retro looks that still turns heads and sparks interest. It doesn't draw nearly the attention it did when it first arrived but VW is cranking them out by the thousands in Mexico.

Available in base GL, mid-trim GLS and top-line GLX trim with three different powertrains, the 2000 New Beetle has changed little from its resurrection in 1998.

OUTSIDE - The three-year engineering feat of turning what was basically a concept car into automotive reality must be a record and its goal of creating public nostalgia and showroom traffic was achieved. Though their shapes may be remotely similar, the New Beetle is much different. Created and designed at VW's California design studios, its bulbous shape looks sleek and aerodynamic, but its coefficient of drag is only 0.39. The fenders and bumpers are made of dent-resistant plastic, while the body is rigid, tight and fully galvanized to prevent rust. The standard GLS wheel setup includes full wheel covers atop 16-inch steel wheels and a full-sized spare. Our test vehicle came equipped with optional alloys.

INSIDE- The New Beetle's radically arched roof line creates lots of headroom in the front seat, but taller passengers seated in the rear will brush the roof. Room in back is better than many subcompacts and since the front seats slide forward and raise upward when the seatback is released, climbing in back is easy. One complaint we have stems from its deep dashboard and wide roof pillars, which makes it hard to see the front corners of the car from the front seat. It's a design necessity, however. The plastic and fabric materials that make up the interior are of good quality and texture. A clever ratchet-type height adjustment for the front seats, along with a tilt and telescoping steering column, makes it possible for a driver of almost any size to find the "sweet spot." Standard equipment includes air conditioning, an anti-theft alarm, rear seat ventilation, speed-sensitive wipers, a rear window defroster, powered and heated side mirrors, illuminated visor mirrors and an AM/FM/cassette stereo. GLS trim adds power windows and door locks, cruise control and a center console.

ON THE ROAD - Where the original Beetle was developed around a rear-wheel drive platform with a rear-mounted, air-cooled 40 HP engine, the New Beetle has its powertrain installed up front. In standard form, it's powered by a water-cooled 2.0 liter inline four cylinder engine that puts its power through a front-wheel drive transaxle. It produces 115 horsepower and 122 lb-ft of torque and while it won't be impressing power-loving hot-rodders, it provides ample power to propel the car to freeway speeds easily. Optional power comes from a 150-horse 1.8 liter turbocharged four cylinder engine that makes the New Beetle even more fun. Also available is an economical 90-horse turbodiesel. A five-speed manual transmission is standard and a four-speed automatic is optional. Traction control is optional on turbocharged gasoline models only.

BEHIND THE WHEEL - Most know by now that the Beetle was developed to use an existing Volkswagen Golf chassis. With its typical compact- car suspension, MacPherson front struts and a twist-beam rear axle, the ride is well-controlled and comfortable. Coil springs and tubular shocks provide the damping, while front and rear anti-roll bars help provide reasonably flat cornering. Its steering is crisp and precise, thanks to its remarkably accurate rack-and-pinion steering, while braking is handled by four-wheel disc brakes with a standard anti-lock braking system (ABS). Volkswagen purposely dialed-in softer settings for the suspension so the ride wouldn't be punishing. Some diehard enthusiasts are hoping that a more "sporting" GTI version is be in the works. Fortunately, the aftermarket business has immediate solutions for impatient handling aficionados.

SAFETY - Dual dashboard airbags, side-impact airbags, steel door beams and ABS are standard.

OPTIONS - Alloy wheels: $310.