Used 2003 Volkswagen New Beetle Consumer Reviews | Edmunds
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2003 Volkswagen New Beetle - Consumer Reviews

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204 Total Reviews

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The not too bad, the good and the great!
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
Performance
Comfort
Fuel Economy
Fun To Drive
Interior Design
Exterior Design
Build Quality
Reliability
By ruzzeld
on

Vehicle

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


Review

This is/was our 2nd VW New Beetle TDI. Both 2003's. I can say that I've been very happy overall with both cars. The only downside is the maintenance expense compared to Toyota's (zero unscheduled maintenance expense with every Toyota I've owned). But kinda boring. BOTH Bugs: FUN to drive! More comfortable (I'm 6'3"). Great road trip car, for my wife and I with plenty of room for luggage with the back seat folded down. GREAT mileage (never less than 43 with everyday driving and up to 55mpg on road trips). We used it as a 2nd car and whoever had to drive the furthest that day.. WANTED the bug. Fun and cheap!


Best Features

Great economy from a fuel standpoint. Great performance - handled awesome and plenty of power over mountain passes, freeway passing etc. Not a race car, but for cruising it was awesome, predictable and safe. Oh did I mention safe? A car pulled out in front of us from a side road as we were cruising the speed limit at 70mph in rural Texas. 10 car lengths. Brakes and handling were flawless, we nearly avoided the accident. Impact at approximately 50 mph and walked away with relatively minor injuries. THAT is Gods grace and German engineering!


Worst Features

Maintenance is expensive comparatively speaking to American and Japanese cars. Although the car performs and handles well, with both cars we could count on little piddly electrical, and mechanical system repairs totaling about $600-$900 per year. That pretty much offsets the great fuel economy. The plastics look substantial, but are always breaking on the interior and in the engine compartment. Just degrading, becoming brittle and falling apart. Expensive to replace/fix and keep up.


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My Horror Story
3 of 4 people found this review helpful
Performance
Comfort
Fuel Economy
Fun To Drive
Interior Design
Exterior Design
Build Quality
Reliability
By azuki
on

Vehicle

2003 Volkswagen New Beetle GL 2dr Convertible (2.0L 4cyl 6A)


Review

This was my first car at the age of 18. When I got my Beetle, it had about 72,000 miles on it, and not even 4 months after receiving it, the problems began. Immediately, my transmission died completely. My warranty company gave me a $4,000 check and voided my warranty after seeing the $12,000 repair bill. Then, the battery died. Twice. As did the alternator and air conditioning. My rear window also got stuck and that would have cost me 4 hours of labor fees just to get to the broken bits. It's not like I drove it a lot - over a course of 3 years I didn't even drive 10,000 miles. For the love of god, stay away from this car. It is one problem after another, literally every 3-5 months.


Best Features

I will admit, when I wasn't sick of it for not functioning like a normal car, it was fun to drive. Responsive, nimble steering makes it a blast. The outside design is nice - no matter what I will always admire the design of beetles, even if they now make me cringe and want to hide my wallet.


Worst Features

Oh where to begin.. - Fix the god awful transmission issue (something to do with the valve body) - Make it somewhat reliable. I had an average tow rate of 8 times a year - Use a different kind of plastic. Whenever any amount of heat hits the inside plastic, it creates an awful smell that does not go away. No amount of ionization or air fresheners removes it. - Back seats could use a bit more room - Fix engine reliability. 95% of the time my engine light was on, each time for a different problem.


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2003 New Beetle Turbo
1 of 3 people found this review helpful
Performance
Comfort
Fuel Economy
Fun To Drive
Interior Design
Exterior Design
Build Quality
Reliability
By iatros
on

Vehicle

2003 Volkswagen New Beetle GLX 2dr Convertible (1.8L 4cyl Turbo 6A)


Review

I bought our 2003 New Beetle Convertible Turbo with auto 6 speed in June 2003 for my wife's birthday. We had to go to Arlington, TX, to order one of the first to come into the USA. My wife has loved this car! The handling and comfort are great, and she loves to leave the pickemup drivers standing at the lights. We don't drive it much, but one highlight was trip from Huntsville, AL, to Ashville, NC, in October. But I worry a bit. There have been several service issues, including one coil recoil. The latest service, with 57,600 miles, was the appearance of Service Engine light. Dealer wants only $2200 to fix everything!


Best Features

Power! Comfortable seating! Convertible (what can I say?)! Handling! Good headlamp illumination at night!


Worst Features

Many small details concerning assembly and engineering, as we have had about a dozen service issues. Expensive to service, i.e. new battery required tow to shop and $229 to replace, burned out headlamp over $100, wiper blades nearly $100. Part of this is due to worsening exchange rate from 03 to present. Part of this is simply exploitation of exotic import.


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Let Me Tell You What's BUG'n Me
1 of 2 people found this review helpful
Performance
Comfort
Fuel Economy
Fun To Drive
Interior Design
Exterior Design
Build Quality
Reliability
By steelfab
on

Vehicle

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


Review

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.


Best Features

The moon roof was nice and the leather interior was attractive. But the red seat panel leather on the passenger seat faded.


Worst Features

Volkswagen, you should start over or forget this model. The original Beetle was very inexpensive and super reliable. They seemed to survive anything, though they were lacking a bit in comfort. The new Beetle is a complete 180 on that idea. The MSRP for this vehicle is outrageous for the low quality parts and manufacturing the consumer receives. Sure it's more comfotable than the original. I guess that is convenient when you are sitting beside the road waiting for roadside assistance to rescue you. I understand that all vehicles in a model year perform differently but this one has prompted me to warn everyone I know away from Volkswagen.


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German Engineering?
1 of 2 people found this review helpful
Performance
Comfort
Fuel Economy
Fun To Drive
Interior Design
Exterior Design
Build Quality
Reliability
By julse520
on

Vehicle

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


Review

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


Best Features

My leather is beautiful blue matching the exterior color of the car. Turbo is awesome when it's not lagging. And also, you'll probably never get pulled over because really? What cop is suspicious of a bug?


Worst Features

The cup holders are in an awful place. Can't even fit a big gulp! If you're going to make a tiny econemy car, at least make it with fuel econemy over 25 mpg. My moms SUV does better than my car!


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