The Beetle is so cheap to operate it makes it worth keeping. I was a car dealer that mostly bought high end European vehicles and they all had issues. Ding, and another message would appear with an expensive issue. After leaving the business, I rented a friend's 2002 Beetle GL with 112,700 miles for $150 a month until I financed a Benz or Bimmer, that never happened. I bought it for $1,000, replaced the timing belt and waterpump. $10 gets 100+ miles, oil changes are $22, tires are $53, I now have 160,000 miles. It's so easy to clean, and the yellow paint is bright and holds up well. Interior plastics break, there's rattles, it's slow, but who cares it gets me everywhere and barely costs me a dime. I baby it to death, wax it, only run chevron but no premium gas and I don't use synthetic but will now cause I want to just keep it going. I recently sold the Beetle at 167,000 miles for $3,000 and got back every penny I spent on it, bought a Jetta. The beetle is still going strong in the West part of Phx. Buy a manual GL!
Let me start off by saying that I've owned 2 New beetles, one 1998 and my current is 2002. 4 years and a hundred thousand miles really make a difference. I've always been a huge fan of the shape, but driving one is a great experience. What it lacks in power, it makes up for in handling. The car handles like new, very sturdy, minimal vibrations, smooth over most terrains and has good traction in all weather types (granted, I did put new tires on the car recently). Though engine noise is audible, it is not very bothersome, especially at higher speeds where the car really shines. Going 70 mph and over is very smooth in the car. The interior is made of cheap plastic parts that break often, but replacements are easily found online or you can paint the chipping plastic yourself like I have. The seats are extremely comfortable in the front seats, the same cannot be said for the backseats, especially if you are over 5'9. Even though the car has limited room for backseat passengers, the rear seats fold down to create a large amount of cargo space which is very nice. I've also read a lot reliability issues and reviews about this car and similar years, but I have yet to experience any huge problems *knocks on wood.* I have kept up on oil changes and regular maintenance and have found this car to have a very reliable engine. Ive paid for new headlight bulb, new tires, transmission fluid change, brake pads and rotors all around and to have my heater core replace. Mind you this is over the span of about 2 years and about 20,000 miles. I've never had a problem with my car and I will continue to drive it, as it is very eye catching and gets great gas mileage. UPDATE 6/17 - I've now had the car for 3 years and 40,000+ miles. Recently everything started to break so I had to adjust my reliability score. New throttle body, 4 DIFFERENT mass air flow sensors, ignition coil, spark plugs and wires, control arms, ball joints, struts, shocks, alternator, all 3 engine mounts, serpentine belt and tensioner, catalytic converter and full cat-back exhaust system...and I'm sure I'm missing a few. Literally driving me nuts with the repairs, thinking of selling for something a bit newer.
It looked great on the lot. I did my due diligence and had the car checked out prior to purchase - where they found a rear-main leak, bad CV Boot, and some other minor items. All-in-All it seemed like a great vehicle for my teenage daughter. The car was a nightmare - ELECTRICAL problems. I had read that on Edmunds - but ignored it. The ECM was replaced 3 times. My daughter was stranded 6 times over 11 months. Thank GOD i purchased an extended warranty (1yr/12,000miles) for $1,100 (the premium warranty) - which covered (ready for this) $4,652.27 in repairs. Please Think Twice before throwing good money after bad. Traded it yesterday for a 2012 Nissan Versa... never again VW.
Owned this car for 6 years and it was nothing but problems. After 40,000 miles, car falls apart. The interior fell apart 2 years after I got it. A week after I bought it, the EPC light came on and didn't let me put the car on Drive, had to learn a trick to start the car on Neutral and drive it. It did this through the 6 years I owned it. Replaced 3 batteries in 6 years, $300+ each. Water pump and timing belt busted on me at 60,000 miles.3 engine hoses replaced because they are made out of plastic and burned. VW dealers are incompetent and steal your money. Tranny began to fail and wouldn't shift gears. VW dealers say trannies never need oil changes, it is a lie.
I bought a new red VW Beetle Turbo S recently and am very happy with it. I previously shied away from the new Beetle due to its image as a "chick" car, and its lack of power. When I test-drove the Turbo S, however, my mind was changed. Clearly, VW is trying to appeal to the male driver and they just might succeed with this car. It's quick, agile, and holds the road well even in sharp corners. I'm planning a few performance mods, but even stock this new VW is very entertaining.