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 Josh on Tuesday, February 17, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 160,000overall rating 4 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"I love and hate this car. It is satisfying to drive, but it is the least reliable vehicle I have ever owned. If you want a turbo charged car to fix up, this is the one. Just make sure that it isn't your primary or secondary vehicle!"
1 person out of 2 found this review helpful
By Carol on Monday, February 09, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 80,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "fun car step on the gas and it really goes."
Cons: "not as good on gas"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"The car is a limited edition color has everything in it including heated seats. It is a smooth riding car no matter what speed you are going. I am only selling it because I would like a bigger car. Is not driven in the winter."
4 people out of 4 found this review helpful
By Lady bug on Saturday, February 07, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 150,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Window problem"
Cons: "Expensive to b fixed"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Great car. Handles well on highway. Had some minor repairs on it. Been driven across country and it's wonderful on the road!"
2 people out of 2 found this review helpful
By Dick on Wednesday, January 28, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 52,000overall rating 6 of 10rating details
Pros: "Good handling at freeway speeds."
Cons: "Poor mileage and excessive repairs"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"I purchased it in 2006 with 22,000 miles. Then began a series of repairs that normally don't occur for the life of the car. The poor mileage of 17 mpg. is unacceptable. It has been analyzed by two different dealers that found no problesms! Again, this car is a loser. Dick"
7 people out of 9 found this review helpful
By Buffy on Saturday, January 24, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 90,000overall rating 5 of 10rating details
Pros: "one of the greatest small cars out there"
Cons: "regular maintenance, fixes are high"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 5
"Learned how to do light bulbs myself($65)if mechanic changes. Have had multiple electrical, window issues-thank goodness for that warranty. Dealerships get really aggravated when you keep bringing it back-they are ones not fixing it correctly to begin with. Fun to drive, comfortable,reliable engine so far, drives great in the snow, and rain. Wanted a manual drive, but none available at the dealership. Automatic is proving to be just fine."
4 people out of 7 found this review helpful
By Doug on Wednesday, January 21, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 76,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Diesel torque, very high MPG"
Cons: "High cost of diesel fuel, hard to get good service"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 7
"I wanted the diesel so I bought it. The Beetle is a "cute" little car. That said, with its two-door layout and high roofline it is easy for me - a REALLY big guy - to climb in and out. With the hatchback and fold down rear seat it will hold a LOT of stuff. So it fits my needs really well - by the same token it is not a car for a large family. The TDI took some serious "breaking in" and I did have initial second thoughts. After that rough beginning it has been a great little engine. It routinely returns over 40 MPG (the price of diesel fuel cuts into the benefit of that) with mostly local driving. It has TORQUE which makes it a blast to drive. The downside is this is NOT a common engine and there are not a lot of places to get it competently serviced. If you can do your own service this is a wonderful car, if not you really need access to a top level diesel mechanic. Volkswagen spared no effort to provide this car with every traction/stability aid known to German engineers. It can and does go most everywhere in slippery winter driving conditions. The only limitation is somewhat low ground clearance, but in nine winters I have not had an issue with this. The only reliability issues I have had with the car were two electronics issues. I was able to find a local expert who was able to fix them and total costs were about $200. These require specific maintenance and that is costly. This includes timing belt replacement, oil changes with the right oil, and flushing the brake fluid every two years. Bottom line: fuel costs are low, but the car is not cheap to keep running right and problem free; with all the diesel torque it is fun to drive."
6 people out of 12 found this review helpful