Used 2000 Volkswagen New Beetle Hatchback Review

The New Beetle offers a unique combination of safety, fun, practicality and value. There's no denying it: It's Beetle-mania all over again.




what's new

Several minor equipment upgrades, such as improved theft protection, debut on the 2000 New Beetle.

vehicle overview

The New Beetle is a bundle of contradictions. It's a blast from the past and a gateway to the 21st century. It's small but it's safe. It's pretty but it can also be pretty powerful.

Volkswagen's New Beetle debuted at the 1998 North American International Auto Show in Detroit to classic '60s tunes and daisies dotting the dashboards. As a Volkswagen executive said, "It's the birth of a legend, a love affair continued, a dream come true."

The VW folks dubbed it a car that makes people smile. We certainly did. Mixing design elements from the old Beetle of the flower-power era with modern technology and luxuries, the Concept 1 design study that was presented at the same show in 1994 has become a reality. A groovy, cool, or baaaad one depending on your age.

The trademark Beetle body shape is immediately recognizable, though it shares no parts with the old Beetle. It's both larger (161.1 inches in length and 96.3 cubic feet inside) and more powerful than its predecessor and the motor is no longer in the back. Three engines are available today: a turbocharged 150-horsepower, 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine, a 115-horsepower, 2.0-liter four-banger or a high-tech Turbo Direct Injection diesel engine that gets 48 mpg on the highway and has a driving range of 700 miles. With 16-inch wheels and wide tires, cruising in the New Beetle "may remind you of the first time you drove the go-cart around the track," said a company official. Crossing all lines of age, race, and class, the target buyer is men, women, young people or people who are simply young at heart.

Performance and handling is surprisingly good on all New Beetles, but the 1.8T really shines when pushed to the limit. With 156 foot-pounds of torque available between 2,200 to 4,200 rpm, the New Beetle 1.8T never feels underpowered or overworked. Fun comes both from watching people stare and wave at you and from blasting down the highways or up a canyon road. Steering is responsive and the little car takes corners like a roadrunner, making it easy to rack up speeding tickets if you're not careful. The safety system features energy-absorbing crush zones, pre-tensioning safety belts, daytime running lights, dual airbags, optional side airbags for front-seat passengers, and excellent bumper crash-test scores. Other standard features include four beverage holders, a remote locking system, anti-theft alarm, a passenger-assist handle above the glove compartment, driver and passenger height adjusters, mesh pockets on the doors, and a bud vase on the dash. Nice touch.

For 2000, the New Beetle gets a brake-wear indicator, improved theft protection, a sliding sun-visor extender, and an optional cold-weather package (GLS models only). Additionally, the 1.8T GLS and GLX versions receive Anti-Slip Regulation as standard equipment this year.

The New Beetle offers a unique combination of safety, fun, practicality and value. There's no denying it: It's Beetle-mania all over again.

edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.