2003 Volkswagen New Beetle Hatchback Review | Edmunds.com

2003 Volkswagen New Beetle Hatchback

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Volkswagen New Beetle Features and Specs

Features & Specs

  • Engine 1.8 L Inline 4-cylinder
  • Drivetrain Front Wheel Drive
  • Transmission 6-speed Manual
  • Horse Power 180 hp @ 5500 rpm
  • Fuel Economy 20/28 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.

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews


1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Let me tell you what's

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Vehicle: 2003 Volkswagen New Beetle Turbo S 2dr Hatchback (1.8L 4cyl Turbo 6M)

We bought our 03 Beetle with the 1.8L with about 50,000 miles on it. Within weeks it had an engine light on. I have battled the engine light, among other things, ever since. We changed an injector and a coil pack on the number 2 cylinder because of a persistent miss. This was after diagnosis of codes would not narrow the problem down. Immediately following it began cranking hard on start and not starting until the second attempt. First code said crankshaft sensor so we replaced that. Had to replace camshaft sensor thereafter to fix the problem. Next it threw a coolant system code so we replaced the ECT sensor. After that the thermostat. This car was a reliability nightmare. Never ever again.



1 of 1 people found this review helpful

German engineering?

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Vehicle: 2003 Volkswagen New Beetle GLX 1.8T 2dr Hatchback (1.8L 4cyl Turbo 4A)

I bought this as my first car thinking I was being smart by buying something with good fuel econemy and reliability. I love to drive the car when it's working properly.For the first two months or so, she provided me with all of that until one day, during rush hour traffic, the car lost ALL power completely. After that, car SLAMS into gear. Now, the car likes to do that randomly in awful places. The turbo lag on a hot day is ridiculous. I feel like I'm going to be killed sometime soon. And also, all the plastic finishes in the interior break. Car is made extremely cheep. Oh yea, german engineering? It's made in MEXICO if that explains the awesome reliability haha




Spend your money elsewhere

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Vehicle: 2003 Volkswagen New Beetle Turbo S 2dr Hatchback (1.8L 4cyl Turbo 6M)

From my experience with VW my car and others they are junk. They all break easily. I have had to repair so many things a 1K a pop 5 times at least. Not including maintenance things. The design so compact requires many hours of labor to remove and replace to get to certain things. Plus the headlight lens falls off and cost ALOT of money to replace which i have done twice now at $400 each lens assembly and its falling off again! Just a crappy car. My sister has a golf the transmission and engine are going. Other family members have toyota and honda and hey i have never seen a repair as stupid or as costly or as often as VW repairs are. Junkie cars and they say German engineering is the best HA




Over powered go cart

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Vehicle: 2003 Volkswagen New Beetle Turbo S 2dr Hatchback (1.8L 4cyl Turbo 6M)

I've owned my Turbo S for almost 6 years and have loved every minute of it. I love the power the little 1.8t makes and how smooth the power comes on. I left mine stock up until last year and then started modifying it. I love the look on Mustang drivers when a little beetle pulls ahead of them. The handling is great, like it's on rails, and the fuel economy is good. Before modifying the engine I got my best mpg of 32 mpg by driving no faster than 65mph and not doing any jack rabbit starts. With the mods I am still getting 29mpg. I plan on keeping the beetle and seeing exactly what type of performance the 1.8t has in it, have seen a few putting out over 350hp and still very drivable.




Beetle a good car

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Vehicle: 2003 Volkswagen New Beetle GLS 2dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl 4A)

BOUGHT AN 03 BEETLE AND PUT SOME MONEY INTO IT AFTER A ELECTRICAL PROBLEM AND IT HAS BEEN AN EXCELLENT CAR. i HAVE PUT SO MANY MILES ON THE CAR, THAT I WAS AMAZED THAT I DID NOT HAVE TO PUT AS MUCH MONEY AS AN AMERICAN CAR. IT IS DOWN TO THE WIRE AND I AM GETTING READY TO GET A NEW CAR AND THE BEETLE WILL GO DOWN AS ONE OF THE BEST CARS EVER MADE. tHE vw HAS SOME QUIRKS BUT I NEVER DROVE A CAR THAT DID NOT. tHE GERMAN TECH IS amazing!!! THE CAR LOOKS BRAND new ON THE OUTSIDE AND I HAVE BEEN GIVEN OFFERS TO SELL THE CAR BECUASE OF THE UP KEEP. VOLKSWAGON IS NO LONGER MAKING THEM AND I DOUBT THE BEETLE WILL RETURN SO I THINK A BEETLE IS BEST AS A SECOND CAR . I AM SAD BUT READY FOR NEW!




Never again

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Vehicle: 2003 Volkswagen New Beetle GL 2dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl 5M)

Bought car w/only 17,000 miles-1 owner. Brakes/front needed new w/rotors @ 37,000 miles. R/brakes w/rotors @ 58,000. R/hatch takes 2-3 hits to release. Have had 4 low beam bulbs burn out! Dealer charges $$$ 2 replace. Check engine light on, thermostat eng. Temp light on yet nothing wrong at all. Interior continues to fall apart- radio presets, visor clip, hand brake knob, dash vent close knob, tilt/tele. Rubber knob loose, glove comp. Latch ready to fall apart anytime now. Will never buy a Volkswagen again no matter what model. Have a few months to pay off, then selling it before it fails me for good. I maintain my cars well & drive them easy. Worst car ever owned- period.



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.

Talk About The 2003 New Beetle

Read more about the 2003 Volkswagen New Beetle

Gas Mileage

EPA-Rated MPG

  • 20
  • cty
/
  • 28
  • highway
Calculate Yearly Fuel Costs
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