Full 2010 Volkswagen New Beetle Review
What's New for 2010
Apart from a few new colors, two new special editions and a standard boot cover for the convertible, the 2010 Volkswagen New Beetle is unchanged.
The 2010 Volkswagen New Beetle is the automotive equivalent of a Happy Meal -- long on packaging, short on substance. Of course, the latter isn't really surprising, given that the New Beetle debuted in (gulp!) 1998. For those of you keeping score at home, that means 2010 marks the New Beetle's 13th year of production, making it basically the oldest vehicle on the market outside of full-size vans. Still, the allure of the reborn Bug's retro styling may enable shoppers to overlook the functionally compromised cabin and 13-year-old chassis.
In fairness to the New Beetle's underpinnings, they were state-of-the-art in the late '90s, doing duty in the chic first-generation Audi TT and sophisticated fourth-generation Volkswagen Golf as well as the Bug. But there have been two generations of Golf since then, and the new-for-2010 version outclasses the similarly priced New Beetle in every way. Remarkably, a base two-door Golf hatchback is actually $1,000 cheaper than a base New Beetle coupe, despite offering 20 more horsepower, superior driving dynamics and a far roomier and more practical interior. There just isn't a rational argument to be made in the 2010 New Beetle's favor.
But perhaps you have some hazy but happy memories of Bug road trips from the '60s, and you know that no other car on the market will help you relive them like a New Beetle. If that rings true, then we can recommend the 2010 Volkswagen New Beetle (or a certified used one) to you in good faith. However, if you're just looking for a good all-around compact coupe/hatchback or convertible, more advisable choices include the two-seat Mazda Miata, the Mini Cooper, the aforementioned Volkswagen Golf, the Volvo C30, and four-door-only offerings like the Mazda 3. Just because you're a fan of the Happy Meal box doesn't mean you'll like what's inside.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2010 VW Beetle is offered as a coupe-styled hatchback or a convertible. The latter includes a power-folding soft top in either black or white that comes with a color-keyed boot. Both models come standard with 16-inch alloy wheels, remote keyless entry, full power accessories, air-conditioning, heated front seats, cruise control, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel and a premium audio system with a CD/MP3 player, an auxiliary audio jack and satellite radio.
The only factory option on the coupe is a power sunroof, although 17-inch wheels, a rear spoiler and a trunk-mounted six-CD changer are available from the dealer. On the convertible, unique 17-inch wheels are a factory option.
The New Beetle Red Rock Edition available on the coupe adds special Red Rock paint, black-painted roof, 17-inch alloy wheels and foglamps. The Final Edition available on both body styles includes special Aquarius Blue paint (with white two-tone on convertible and a black-painted roof on the coupe), a 17-inch wheels, foglamps and on the convertible, a special white interior.
Powertrains and Performance
The front-wheel-drive 2010 Volkswagen New Beetle is powered by a 2.5-liter inline five-cylinder engine that produces 150 hp and 170 pound-feet of torque. The coupe gets either a five-speed manual transmission or a six-speed automatic, while the convertible is available with the automatic only. New Beetles sold in California and California-emissions states meet the PZEV (partial zero-emissions vehicle) standard.
Fuel economy ratings with the manual transmission are 20 mpg city/28 mpg highway and 23 mpg combined. The automatic transmission yields 1 extra mpg on the freeway.
All 2010 New Beetles come standard with antilock disc brakes, stability control, front-seat side-impact airbags and active front head restraints. Convertibles also feature a rollover protection system.
In government crash testing, the 2010 Volkswagen New Beetle earned four out of five stars for front occupants in frontal impacts. In side-impact testing, the New Beetle received a perfect five-star rating for front passengers but only three stars for those in the rear. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the New Beetle a top score of "Good" for frontal-offset crash protection but a lowest "Poor" rating for side impacts.
Interior Design and Special Features
The New Beetle's turtle-like shape has predictable consequences for interior space. Rear passenger hip- and headroom are sorely lacking, and maximum cargo space is rated at 27 cubic feet in the hardtop -- a puny figure for what is technically a hatchback. Also, outward visibility is surprisingly poor on both the coupe and convertible. However, interior materials quality is still solid after all these years, and of course the New Beetle's cabin offers an industry first (and perhaps last): the dash-mounted flower vase.
On the convertible model, raising the top isn't exactly a one-touch operation, but it's simple enough to be called hassle-free. One button on the console takes it up or down, but there's a single manual latch you must pull and twist to secure it tightly to the windshield header.
The 2010 VW Beetle's 13-year-old foundation can still hack it with modern economy cars, providing decent handling along with a smooth, substantial-feeling ride. Trouble is, the New Beetle is positioned as a premium small car, and the competition in this segment quite simply puts the VW's driving dynamics to shame. Also, while the Bug's mandatory 2.5-liter engine is pleasantly torquey at lower engine speeds, it's an older version of the Golf's 2.5-liter five, which makes 20 more horsepower.