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2006 New Beetle Convertible 2.5 Review

Cute as a Bug

In short: A stylish, boulevard cruising small convertible.

Aw, look at the wittle Beetle,” you say as if admiring a baby or small pet. Bathed in cuddly Mellow Yellow paint, our VW New Beetle Convertible test car was the automotive equivalent of a Golden Labrador puppy pawing at our leg. You just want to hug the thing. Like its storied predecessors, the icon still has to power to produce retro warm fuzzies.

Now in its fourth year, the 2006 New Beetle Convertible sports a new five-cylinder engine that replaces both the base four banger and turbocharged 1.8T. It’s the same power plant found in the Jetta and forthcoming Rabbit that borrows its cylinder head design from the Lamborghini Gallardo’s V10. Impressive, but remember, the original Bug was designed by some guy named Porsche.

Aside from the engine and a very mild exterior freshening, the New Beetle remains a tightly screwed-together drop top with a healthy dose of features. The power roof comes standard, while the $3,000 Package #2 adds topless-friendly features like heated leather seats, wind blocker and premium sound system. Throw in Sirius satellite radio and our tester topped out at just a hair under 26 grand – pretty reasonable for a convertible.

A five-speed manual transmission is standard, and despite offering long throws, the shifter is fairly precise and the clutch low effort. The firm front seats and tilting/telescoping steering wheel combine for a comfortable driving position, but it’s still hard getting used to the signature “acres of plastic” dash top and windshield that’s about three yards away. The back seat is habitable in a pinch, and more importantly, it can handle cargo that doesn’t fit in the diminutive five-cubic-foot trunk. This is a result of the New Beetle’s roofless conversion, as is the light shaking that occurs when running over expansion joints or pot holes with the top up. Convertible owners will say, though, that these are small prices to pay for soaking up the sun.

Although the mild exterior freshening shows the downside of retro design (it is difficult to modernize future generations) and the normal hatch version has suffered a sales slide, the convertible remains one of the few affordable drop tops on the market. Even after all these years, the New Beetle can still elicit enthusiastic calls of “Aw, it’s sooo cute.”

Read a review of the 2004 Volkswagen New Beetle Convertible GLS 1.8 T
and the
2008 Volkswagen Triple White Beetle

Warranty/Service: Four-year/50,000-mile new vehicle warranty; five-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty; twelve-year/unlimited-mile warranty against corrosion perforation; four-year/unlimited-mile roadside assistance provided by a third party supplier.

Base Price 21,920 / Price as tested: $25,940

Technical Specifications

Performance Data

Vehicle type: front-engine, front-wheel-drive, 4-passenger, 2-door soft-top convertible

Engine: 2.5-liter inline-5
Horsepower: 150 bhp @ 5,000 rpm
Torque: 170 lb-ft @ 3,750 rpm
Transmission: 5-speed manual

Curb weight: 3,164 lbs
Wheelbase: 98.8 in
161.1/67.9/59.1 in
Turning circle: 35.8 ft

Brakes: four-wheel disc with ABS and electronic brake assist
independent front and semi-independent torsion beam rear axle
traction control, vehicle stability control

Safety: front air bags, front side air bags, automatic roll-over supports, daytime running lights

0-60 mph: 8.8 seconds

Top Speed: 127 mph

EPA City: 22 mpg
EPA Highway: 30 mpg

Likes: high feature content; affordable; decent power; well-built; cute looks

Dislikes: cramped back seat; tiny trunk; rattles with the roof up; poor rear visibility

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Photography: AlphaMedia

(Updated 01/23/09 SV)