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Kelley Blue Book ® - 2002 Volkswagen New Beetle Overview

Vehicle Overview from Kelley Blue Book

KBB.com 2002 Volkswagen New Beetle Overview

From Fast to Frugal, VW Has a Beetle For Just About Everyone

Shortly after Volkswagen introduced the first New Beetle in 1998, owners began reporting an unusual phenomenon; it seems they began receiving movie-star-like attention whenever they exited their vehicles, finding themselves swarmed by throngs of curious onlookers. We are happy to report that after taking possession of a new 2002 Beetle we experienced a similar set of events. After nearly five years in production, the Beetle still produces incidents of spontaneous waving, finger pointing and friendly smiles aimed at whoever is behind the wheel.

The Beetle comes in only one body style—a two-door hatchback—yet has four distinct personalities. Model ranges include the base GL, the more content-laden GLS, the loaded GLX and the performance-oriented Turbo S. The list of standard equipment is impressive, even on the base model. Beetle GLs come equipped with daytime running lights, heated power-side-view mirrors, air conditioning, alarm system, power door locks, AM/FM cassette stereo, height adjustable front seats, driver and front passenger side airbags and much more. To this impressive list, the GLS model adds power windows, a center armrest, cruise control and upgraded interior fabrics. GLX and Turbo S Beetles include all of the above plus a power glass sunroof, alloy wheels, a Monsoon eight-speaker amplified sound system, heated leather seats and a three-spoke leather-wrapped steering wheel.

The Beetle is based on the Golf platform and therefore shares most of its safety, ride and handling attributes. On the road, the GL offers an extremely smooth ride and handles fairly well under day-to- day maneuvering. Push this model hard into curves and you will likely find the suspension settings are too soft for serious performance driving. If you plan to drive aggressively, look to the sport-tuned suspension of the Turbo-S to satisfy your race car driving impulses. On GLS and GLX models, the dealer can add optional 17-inch alloy wheels and stiffer springs.

The Beetle's interior is unlike anything you've ever seen in a production car. Its unique retro dash houses all the instrumentation within a small half-dome shaped binnacle that includes the speedometer, tachometer and fuel gauges. The radio and HVAC controls (heat, ventilation and air conditioning) protrude slightly from the center dash and rest just below two large circular vents. In order to create the Beetle's shape, the windshield and dashboard have been partially extended over the engine compartment, creating a tremendously deep dash and consequently large blind spot where the front pillar meets the side mirror. It takes some time to adjust to the Beetle's layout, but once you learn where the front and rear of the car is, you'll find it just as easy to park as any small car.

The 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 seats are also height adjustable. The Beetle's trademark domed shape shaves off rear-seat headroom and repositions it above the front seats. The result is an interior that can comfortably accommodate to two small persons in the rear seat and two NBA-sized adults up front. One thing we think you will want to take note of is the placement of the cup holders. They consist of three rings clustered together at the end of the console. Unfortunately, they are positioned partially beneath the HVAC controls, preventing them for use by anything taller than a 12-ounce soda can.

Engine choices for these models also vary greatly. If you choose the base GL or GLS models, your Beetle will come equipped with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 115 horsepower and can be ordered with either a 5-speed manual or 4-speed automatic. In both the performance and fuel economy arena, the 2.0-liter earns passing, but not exceptional marks. If you are seeking more power or better fuel economy, VW offers two optional engines for the GLS models that are A+ students.

The 1.9-liter TDI (turbo direct injection) is an amazing little engine that produces more torque than the standard 2.0-liter gas engine and earns an EPA highway mileage rating of 49 miles per gallon; it is also the only diesel-powered passenger car currently being sold in the U.S. Whatever preconceived thoughts you have about diesel cars, forget them; the TDI represents a whole-new generation of quiet, clean and fast diesel engines. If fuel efficiency is your primary concern, the 1.9-liter TDI is the car for you.

For those of you who still care about fuel economy but rank performance above all else, VW offers the 1.8T. This gasoline powered four-cylinder engine employs a small, low-pressure turbo to produce a healthy 150 horsepower. This engine transforms the mild-mannered Beetle into a speed demon, yet still earns a respectable 31 miles per gallon on the highway (5-speed manual.) If you like the idea of a Turbo in your Beetle but think it needs a little more power, then consider the top-of-the-line Turbo S. The Turbo S uses the same 1.8-liter engine but has a high-pressure turbo that boosts horsepower increase to 180. Turbo S models also come fully equipped and include larger wheels and tires, a 6-speed manual transmission and thickly bolstered sport seats.

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