By KBB.com Editors
The 2008 Volkswagen New Beetle remains a popular choice among those seeking a less conventional mode of transportation. Touting a shape based on the original Beetle (popularly known as the "Bug"), the New Beetle's easily recognizable shape results in the most lop-sided interior dimensions of any car in its class. While the sloping hatch creates a nearly unusable rear seat, the arching dome roof provides an unbeatable 38 inches of front headroom, making the New Beetle the friend of the tall and very tall. Unfortunately, the roof design also creates some massive blind spots around the windshield pillars. Strict emission standards force the removal of the fuel-miserly TDI diesel engine, leaving the 150-horsepower 2.5-liter gasoline engine as the sole choice.
The most significant aspect of the 2008 Volkswagen New Beetle is its familiar and friendly shape but, as a bonus, it is actually quite comfortable as a daily driver as well. Even taller drivers will appreciate the quantity of front-seat headroom.
If you need on occasion to carry four adult passengers, the New Beetle's rear seats offer very little headroom and the cargo area is tiny. The instrument panel configuration takes some getting used to as it spans the considerable distance between the windshield and the driver and front-seat passenger.
The new trim level names are S and SE. Volkswagen has deleted fog lights, leather seating and rain-sensing wipers from all models, but has added a tire pressure monitoring system as standard equipment.
Driving Impressions Because it's based on the Golf platform, the 2008 Volkswagen New Beetle exhibits most of the same ride and handling attributes of its sister car. The 2.5-liter engine delivers strong...acceleration and good fuel economy, a noticeable improvement over the previous 2.0-liter engine, but is not as much fun to drive as the old turbocharged models. On the road the Beetle offers an extremely smooth ride and handles well under normal driving conditions. Push it a little harder and its relatively soft suspension and 16-inch all-season tires begin to show their limitations. If you desire better handling, your VW dealer can upgrade the car to optional 17-inch alloy wheels and stiffer springs designed by VW, which will make it more responsive.
Blue Instrument Lighting
Cornflower blue lighting in the instrument cluster is easy on the eyes both night and day.
Because the driver's and passenger seat sit in the very center of the car, the arching roofline and height-adjustable seats create phenomenal headroom, suiting even the tallest occupants.
In order to create the New Beetle's shape, the windshield and dashboard have been partially extended over the engine compartment, creating a tremendously deep dash and a large blind spot where the front pillar meets the side mirror. The New Beetle's seats are some of the most comfortable we've experienced, with excellent back, side and thigh support for both driver and passenger. The trademark domed exterior shape provides ample front-seat headroom, but somewhat less for rear-seat passengers.Exterior
The 2008 Volkswagen New Beetle mimics what is probably the best-known automotive shape in the world, the original Beetle. Considering the price, the New Beetle is remarkably detailed and offers excellent crash-test results and projected accident-repair costs.
The 2008 Volkswagen New Beetle includes a 150-horsepower, 2.5-liter engine, five-speed manual transmission, four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes (ABS), electronic stabilization program, air conditioning, rear defroster, illuminated remote keyless entry, key-operated open/close feature for power windows and optional sunroof, dual heated power mirrors with built-in turn signals, front side-impact airbags, AM/FM stereo with MP3-compatible CD player, cruise control, tilt/telescopic steering wheel, power locks, 16-inch alloy wheels and remote hatch release.
VW has bundled its most popular items into two packages. The Cold Weather Package adds heated seats and windshield spray nozzles. Package #1 includes the Cold Weather Package plus a premium sound system, leather-wrapped shift knob and steering wheel, 17-inch wheels and a power glass sunroof. It is standard on the SE and optional on the S. Stand-alone items include a trunk-mounted six-disc CD changer, power sunroof (S), iPod connector and SIRIUS Satellite Radio.
The 2.5-liter 20-valve five-cylinder is a vast improvement over Volkswagen's previous four-cylinder engine, the old eight-valve 2.0-liter. Not only does it bring an additional 35 horsepower to the table, it also provides the kind of low-end torque needed to move the New Beetle with some authority. Though not as quiet or vibration free as similar-size engines from Honda and Toyota, the 2.5 is nevertheless a good match to the New Beetle's size and weight.
2.5-liter in-line 5
150 horsepower @ 5000 rpm
170 lb.-ft. of torque @ 3750 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 20/28 (manual), 20/29 (automatic)
By Patty M. (CA) on Sunday, March 02, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 65,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great price and fun to drive"
Cons: "Convertible top latch downs tricky"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"I bought this car to get me to work 2 miles away. It is fun to drive a manual again and easy to park. The manual convertible top is kind of finicky with the tack down latches, but easy and fast to raise up and lower. It is really cute and turns heads! Nice baby blue with black top, black interior. Now that I've had it 7 months, I'm missing the quiet Lexus sedan I used to drive and the automatic transmission! My husband still loves to drive it. Great car if you don't mind sacrificing some comfort for a little wind in your hair!"
By artsyfartsy (TX) on Friday, February 28, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 118,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "good gas milage"
Cons: "gas tank is substandard"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"i would not buy another one from the dealer I bought it from...too many gas tanks (5) replaced in 2 years for the same reason, dealership/owner lied about this car and another one I was looking to replace this one."
By Nora (WI) on Thursday, February 13, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 67,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "Heating/cooling great, great in all weather, peppy"
Cons: "Electrical systems are lacking in quality"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"Have loved every moment that I have had the car -- (11 yrs). Have had multiple issues with electrical system -- headlight/tailights but overall wouldn't change my purchase in a heartbeat. Engine and mechanics have been good although I do keep up with regular maintenance. Would buy it again for sure. Extremely comfortable to drive -- great get up and go. Lots of headroom, even for my 6'5" husband."
6 people out of 6 found this review helpful
By vaughnrox666 (IL) on Monday, February 10, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 163,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fun to drive, fuel efficient, comfortable, stylish"
Cons: "Costly maintenance, minor problems, trunk space"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"I bought my 1998 Volkswagen New Beetle with about 150,000 miles on it. There have been a few things wrong with it since I bought it. It definitely needed new tires (already replaced) and the check engine light was on. I didn't have to put any repairs into it until about three months after I got it, when I accidentally destroyed my radiator at a poor attempt in parking and, with not having checked my tire air pressure since i bought it, was too low to the ground to avoid the curb. This cost my $1,000 at my mechanic (he also replaced my ball joints). My check engine light went off after this visit. But, overall, I really like my bug. I find the drive smooth and satisfying, as well as fast. The car is also comfortable for longer trips, despite having no armrest. Road noise is honestly minimal until you reach at least 70 mph. Excellent turn radius, and I can park anywhere with ease. Has really good pick up and the engine is rather reliable thus far. Not the best in the snow right now (need rear tires bad). A little bit loud on the exhaust as well. I only need to get a few minor things fixed (back tires, glove box,rear view mirror, defrosters) and she'll be in delightful condition. The only thing I don't like about it is the cost to repair. But, I do have vehicle inclined family and neighbors who have helped me when i'm having car troubles. This car has never left at the side of the road (which I hear they are notorious for) and has been a great first car to me. Also, it's really cute. Definitely the most eye-catching thing on the road."
3 people out of 3 found this review helpful
By Mike (CO) on Thursday, January 30, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 40,000overall rating 6 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 6
"Over all I like this car but it cost a bit more to service than your typical car and the passenger airbags have always been a problem, I stopped getting them fixed when the warranty expired and the turbo lags – a lot!"
3 people out of 4 found this review helpful
By Ozwald (IL) on Thursday, January 30, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 60,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "reliable, economical, just plain fun to drive"
Cons: "small back seat, synthetic oil required"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I have owned my Beetle since 2006. I have averaged about 42mpg over the life of the car. I have only had minor issues with my bug such as a headlight bulb and new brakes at 60k new tires at 40k but nothing out of the ordinary. My daughter is going to inherit this one and I'm looking for a new 2014 diesel bug. I would encourage anyone to consider a diesel this is my 3rd and I've got nothing but praise for them."
4 people out of 5 found this review helpful