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Avg. Price Paid:$7,430 - $10,448
Original MSRP: $17,475 - $25,740
MPG: 20 City / 28 Hwy
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2008 Volkswagen New Beetle Performance

This performance review was written when the 2008 Volkswagen New Beetle was new.

The New Beetle has become more peppy and spirited since its introduction in 1998, but many find its performance isn't quite as good as sportier alternatives.

Based on the VW Golf platform, the Beetle comes standard with a 2.5-liter inline five-cylinder engine. While U.S. News reviewer Rick Newman says that "The Beetle is about driving. Period," Edmunds considers it more of a "boulevard cruiser." According to the Washington Post, the Beetle is "Decent, but not exceptional in any category. It lacks the zoom of a Mazda 3, the sassiness and smart handling of a Honda Civic Si, and the homeboy attitude of a Chevrolet Malibu SS. It's just an egg of a car, a motorized curio -- interesting, but not compelling."

Acceleration and Power

Test drivers report that the Beetle's 2.5-liter five-cylinder engine delivers zippy, immediate acceleration. The 2008 Volkswagen New Beetle is mated to a standard five-speed manual transmission but can be fitted with an optional automatic. U.S. News reviewer Rick Newman calls the acceleration on the New Beetle "vibrant," finding that accelerates "like a hare." Automobile Magazine agrees, finding that, "Setting off from traffic lights, it feels quick." But praise for the five-cylinder engine's power isn't universal. "Acceleration is modest," finds the Kansas City Star, which also reminds Beetle shoppers that it "isn't intended to be a performance car."

"When you stomp the clutch, push the accelerator and shift gears, the motorized egg moves," claims the Washington Post.

The 2008 Volkswagen New Beetle has an EPA fuel economy rating of 20 miles per gallon in the city and 28 mpg on the highway with the manual transmission, and 20 mpg in the city and 29 on highways with an automatic.

Handling and Braking

"The New Beetle is not as agile as a MINI Cooper," according to MSN, "but its steering is fast, handling is good, braking is strong and the ride is firm but compliant." According to Edmunds, "the 2008 New Beetle is reasonably fun to drive and provides a smooth and comfortable ride, perfect for long trips."

In fact, most auto reviewers find the 2008 New Beetle to be smooth and comfortable on the road, with the optional 17-inch tire upgrade receiving ample praise for delivering additional road grip. The Beetle is fitted with independent, MacPherson strut front suspension, front and rear stabilizer bars and torsion beam rear suspension. U.S. News reviewer Rick Newman calls cornering "tight" and steering "taut," citing the 17-inch tires to "provide the grab of a much larger car."

The Chicago Tribune experienced a decent ride and handling but pronounced wind noise while cruising the interstate. It also reports strong performance when driving off the straight, smooth highway: "Good grip in corners and turns while still cushioning cabin occupants from bumps in the road."

Review Last Updated: 2/19/09

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