2003 Volkswagen New Beetle Diesel Review | Edmunds.com

2003 Volkswagen New Beetle Diesel

We didn't find any results. You can try changing your zip code, or check another model year.

We found matches for you!

Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) is a category of used car. Often late-model vehicles, they have been inspected, refurbished, if necessary, and are under warranty by the manufacturer.
Volkswagen New Beetle Features and Specs

Features & Specs

  • Engine 1.9 L Inline 4-cylinder
  • Drivetrain Front Wheel Drive
  • Transmission 4-speed Automatic
  • Horse Power 90 hp @ 3750 rpm
  • Fuel Economy 29/39 mpg
  • Bluetooth No
  • Navigation No
  • Heated Seats Yes

Review of the 2003 Volkswagen New Beetle

  • The image car in VW's lineup, the New Beetle offers a unique combination of safety, fun and upscale features for its price range.

  • Safety
  • Pros

    Cute yet classic styling, range of engine choices, long list of standard features, good crash test scores.

  • Cons

    Tight rear-seat accommodations, limited cargo room, high price of Turbo S model.

  • What's New for 2003

    Volkswagen makes the TDI and 150-horsepower 1.8T engines available on the base GL trim level. All GLs now come with power windows and cruise control, and the GL 1.8T and all GLS models get alloy wheels. Stability control (ESP), heated seats, and the Monsoon sound system will be available across the line. All models except the GL get a standard sunroof and a larger center console container, and the GL and GLS have new cloth upholstery. Note that last year's Sport model has been discontinued. All models have a more comfortable rear seat, a clock/temperature display on the rearview mirror and turn signals mounted on the outside mirrors. Finally, if you've been holding out for a Beetle convertible since 1998, your wait is almost over -- the first drop tops should arrive at the dealers just in time for, well, winter. The first ones will be 2.0 GL and GLS models in February 2003, 1.8T-equipped GLS and GLX models later in the spring.

Full 2003 Volkswagen New Beetle Review

What's New for 2003

Volkswagen makes the TDI and 150-horsepower 1.8T engines available on the base GL trim level. All GLs now come with power windows and cruise control, and the GL 1.8T and all GLS models get alloy wheels. Stability control (ESP), heated seats, and the Monsoon sound system will be available across the line. All models except the GL get a standard sunroof and a larger center console container, and the GL and GLS have new cloth upholstery. Note that last year's Sport model has been discontinued. All models have a more comfortable rear seat, a clock/temperature display on the rearview mirror and turn signals mounted on the outside mirrors. Finally, if you've been holding out for a Beetle convertible since 1998, your wait is almost over -- the first drop tops should arrive at the dealers just in time for, well, winter. The first ones will be 2.0 GL and GLS models in February 2003, 1.8T-equipped GLS and GLX models later in the spring.

Introduction

When the Golf-based Volkswagen New Beetle debuted, America went bonkers over it. It was cute. It was retro. It reminded people of their youth, free love and smoking lots of, well, you know. But that was five years ago. Just like Saint Bernard puppies, cars grow old. And unless something is done to keep the interest up, the buying public's fascination wears off. Indeed, New Beetle sales have cooled considerably since 1998. Last year, Volkswagen energized the lineup with the introduction of the Turbo S. Building off the GLX 1.8T model, the Turbo S has a more powerful engine, a more aggressive-looking body and unique interior treatments. Indeed, the Turbo S is the most powerful and sporting New Beetle ever offered in the United States. Accordingly, it's also the most expensive. The New Beetle is entering its sixth season for 2003. At this point, many small cars get a full makeover. Instead, VW will rely on the Beetle's large array of standard features, premium cabin furnishings and playful on-road demeanor to keep the nameplate competitive. The availability of the TDI and 1.8T engines at the base GL trim level should make the car more appealing to shoppers who prize value above image. More importantly, the long-awaited convertible version will finally make its appearance midway through the model year with such features as a power-folding cloth top, a rollover protection system and, a first in the price range, a six-speed automatic transmission.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

For 2003, the available trim levels include the GL, GLS, GLX and Turbo S. The GL comes with air conditioning; cassette stereo; four-wheel antilock disc brakes; side airbags; 16-inch wheels; power windows, locks and mirrors; cruise control; seat-height adjusters; a telescoping steering wheel and a bud vase on the dash. Options include stability control (ESP), a premium Monsoon sound system, heated front seats and a dealer-installed CD changer. The GLS adds a sunroof, a center armrest with storage, alloy wheels (also available on the GL 1.8T) and foglights. Besides all the GL options, you can get leather or a trim package with sport seats and interior accents that match the exterior paint (GLS 1.8T buyers can also get 17-inch wheels). Step up to the GLX and leather, Monsoon sound, rain-sensing wipers and a self-dimming rearview mirror are included; ESP and 17-inch wheels are optional. The Turbo S adds standard 17s, a sport-tuned suspension, metallic-colored trim, distinctive body add-ons and a rear spoiler that deploys at 45 mph. Convertibles will be offered in GL, GLS, and GLX trim; the first ones to arrive will be GLS models. A power-folding cloth top will be available.

Powertrains and Performance

GL and GLS buyers can choose one of three engines. First up is a 115-horsepower, ULEV-certified 2.0-liter inline four. More interesting is the 1.9-liter diesel four (called TDI) that gets up to 49 mpg on the highway (and makes an impressive 155 pound-feet of torque) or the powerful 150-hp 1.8-liter turbocharged four (called the 1.8T). All of these engines have adequate power for easy city driving, though the 1.8T is the most fun, and it provides fuel economy on par with the base 2.0-liter -- it's standard on the GLX. A five-speed manual and four-speed automatic are available at all trim levels. The performance-oriented Turbo S comes only with a 180-hp version of the 1.8T paired with a six-speed manual. New Beetle Convertibles will be available with the 2.0-liter and the 150-hp 1.8T and either a five-speed manual or a segment-first six-speed automatic.

Safety

Side airbags are standard, but unlike its Golf platform mate, the Beetle doesn't offer head curtain airbags -- which may account for its three-star rating in NHTSA's rear side-impact category. Otherwise, the Beetle is a model of safety, having earned five stars in both frontal impact categories and a "Good" rating (and "Best Pick" status) from the IIHS for the offset crash. Convertibles will have a rollover protection system.

Interior Design and Special Features

Though smaller inside than the Golf, the Beetle (seats four, 12 cubic feet of hatch space) compensates with style: its tablelike dashboard, huge circular speedometer and round vents distinguish it from everything else on the road. Cabin materials are high in quality.

Driving Impressions

Like other VWs, the Beetle is fun to drive but comfortable for long trips. The Turbo S has a slightly stiffer suspension -- it's still too soft for performance freaks, but just about right for most drivers.

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews



6 years of reliability

by on
Vehicle: 2003 Volkswagen New Beetle GLS TDI 2dr Hatchback (1.9L 4cyl Turbodiesel 5M)

This is one of the best and most reliable car I have ever owned. Special Ordered before the big gas crisis. I can count on my hand how many times this car has been to the dealer for unscheduled service. First 100 miles the waterpump failed and was replaced without any hassles. Second time was due to the city of Chicago not posting any hazard warning for street work, destroying the bottom oil pan at 40,000 miles. The other times for regular wear and tear over the span of time.You will not be disappointed.



1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Still paying for itself

by on
Vehicle: 2003 Volkswagen New Beetle GL TDI 2dr Hatchback (1.9L 4cyl Turbodiesel 5M)

This TDI was purchased with the intent of commuting. It returned 47 mpg the first two years of ownership but just 43 mpg since a new set of tires was put on at 60,000 miles. It starts right up in cold weather (as low as -8 F), handles well, and has more than enough power. The car is comfortable and has been dependable to date other than the repeated replacement of headlights (three in 65,000 miles). The interior has held up well despite the miles and three kids. I bought it as a leftover for $16,600 and it has proven to be very reliable. My uncle owns an auto 2002 TDI and gets 42 mpg. Mine is the 5-speed stick. I am looking for a second one for my teenage daughter.




Poor milage

by on
Vehicle: 2003 Volkswagen New Beetle GL TDI 2dr Hatchback (1.9L 4cyl Turbodiesel 5M)

I was told when I bought this car it would get 42/52 MPG because it is a deisel I have never even gotten 40 MPG ever! I felt ripped off! by the Dealer! They told me to write to VW, even though the salesman told me and repeatedly told me about the high MPG the best I've ever gotten is 35 MPG city and highway, which isn't bad, but it's not 42 or even 52 as promised by the salesman! I will never buy another car from this DEALER ever again! I feel ripped off every time I fill up.




Tdi plus and minus

by on
Vehicle: 2003 Volkswagen New Beetle GL TDI 2dr Hatchback (1.9L 4cyl Turbodiesel 5M)

The TDI Beetle is a great idea, I bought it because I assumed it would get good mileage and last a long time. Yes and no. It generally gets good gas mileage but there is a problem. Our diesel fuel isn't all that good and the engine has a tendency to combine some of the bad components with carbon particles which, over time, ends up clogging the intake manifold. There has been a solution (a rather expensive one) but VW no longer supports it. You can get to about 30,000 - 40,000 miles before something has to be done. Know this going in, if VW figures out a solution to this problem, the car is a great buy, if they don't stay away.




Worth babying

by on
Vehicle: 2003 Volkswagen New Beetle GL TDI 2dr Hatchback (1.9L 4cyl Turbodiesel 5M)

If everybody had one of these, it wouldn't be as much fun. The TDI can pull a 1500 lb. boat and trailer better than a gas with all that torque and still get over 32 miles to the gallon.




Lemon?

by on
Vehicle: 2003 Volkswagen New Beetle GL TDI 2dr Hatchback (1.9L 4cyl Turbodiesel 5M)

I bought this car (with 40 miles on it) because it was a VW and I've been hearing about the wonderful quality of VWs. 3 days later the Clutch went out. If I ever get it back, it's been 2 weeks, I'll let you know if I still like it. I did talk to a friend who has had one for 4 years and his turbo has gone out twice. Let's keep our fingers crossed or I'll have to go back to Kia's and Mazda's.



Talk About The 2003 New Beetle

2003 Volkswagen New Beetle Discussions See all Started By

ammy
ammy
09-25-2014
I have a Beetle, 2003 with turbo. There's a light on the dash that I can't figure out. I've tried googling it, but can't seem to find it. It's in the lower left corner of the dash. It's amber in colo?...


dmbrining
dmbrining
03-03-2004
June 2, 1998 Forest Imports Purchased my first car, a brand new ’98 VW New Beetle GL, VIN# 3VWBB61CXWM013081 with 85 miles. 85...


bluelemon
bluelemon
08-15-2004
In 2003, I proudly purchased a second-hand 1999 New Beetle GL, 2.0L, with a manual transmission and 50540 on the odometer. I had the car service checked by a AAA technician prior to purchase, to make...



Read more about the 2003 Volkswagen New Beetle

ADVERTISEMENT
Gas Mileage

EPA-Rated MPG

  • 29
  • cty
/
  • 39
  • highway
Calculate Yearly Fuel Costs
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
Have a question? We're here to help!
Chat*
Chat online with us
Email
Email us at help@edmunds.com
*Available daily 8AM-5PM Pacific
Phone*
Call us at 855-782-4711
SMS*
Text us at ED411