2003 Volkswagen New Beetle Convertible Road Test Specs | Edmunds

2003 Volkswagen New Beetle - Road Test Specs

2003 Volkswagen New Beetle Convertible

(2.0L 4-cyl. 5-speed Manual)


Model year2003
ModelNew Beetle
StyleGLS 2dr Convertible (2.0L 4cyl 5M)
Base MSRP$21,850
As-tested MSRP$20,177


Drive typeFWD
Engine typeinline 4
Displacement (cc/cu-in)2.0
Horsepower (hp @ rpm)115 @ 5400
Torque (lb-ft @ rpm)125 @ 3200
Transmission type5-speed manual


Suspension, frontIndependent struts, coil springs, stabilizer bar
Suspension, rearIndependent torsion beam, coil springs, stabilizer bar
Steering typePower rack-and-pinion
Tire brandGoodyear
Tire modelEagle RSA
Tire size, frontP205/55R16
Tire size, rearP205/55R16
Brakes, frontventilated front disc / solid rear disc

Track Test Results

0-45 mph (sec.)6.9
0-60 mph (sec.)11.9
0-75 mph (sec.)18.4
1/4-mile (sec. @ mph)18.41 @ 74.58
Braking, 30-0 mph (ft.)30.43
60-0 mph (ft.)124.27
Slalom, 6 x 100 ft. (mph)58.5
Skid pad, 200-ft. diameter (lateral g)35.8
Sound level @ idle (dB)55
@ Full throttle (dB)73
@ 70 mph cruise (dB)75

Test Driver Ratings & Comments

Acceleration commentsThe New Beetle's capable shifter is somewhat hampered by the design of the gauges. Specifically, the small tachometer makes it difficult to track engine speed. I found that launching the vehicle around 3,500 rpm provided a balance of low-end punch and slight wheel spin. I upshifted at 5,900 rpm, just short of redline. Going beyond 5,900 did nothing to improve acceleration times because the engine basically runs out of steam at that point. I not-so-patiently await the turbo version.
Braking ratingGood
Braking commentsLike most Volkswagens, the New Beetle's brake pedal requires a heavy foot to invoke ABS, but the pedal itself offers progressive feel and feedback. There is noticeable ABS noise and vibration during maximum braking, and after three stops the total braking distance increased by five feet. This points to a slight, but acceptable, amount of brake fade.
Handling ratingAverage
Handling commentsI had to disable the electronic stabililty program to get the best slalom times, and even after it was "disabled" the system would still kick in when the front-end started to plow. However, the biggest limiting factor was the lack of torque that precluded accelerating after entering the slalom. This meant carrying as much speed as possible into the cones without causing excessive front-end plow (which would invoke the ESP). The car has excellent steering feel and relatively sticky tires, but no engine torque kept it to an average speed. — Karl Brauer

Testing Conditions

Elevation (ft.)85
Temperature (°F)80
Wind (mph, direction)0-5

Fuel Consumption

EPA fuel economy (mpg)24 City 30 Highway
Edmunds observed (mpg)24
Fuel tank capacity (U.S. gal.)14.5

Dimensions & Capacities

Curb weight, mfr. claim (lbs.)3082
Length (in.)161.1
Width (in.)67.9
Height (in.)59.1
Wheelbase (in.)98.8
Legroom, front (in.)39.4
Legroom, rear (in.)31.5
Headroom, front (in.)40.7
Headroom, rear (in.)37.2
Seating capacity4
Cargo volume (cu-ft)5
Max. cargo volume, seats folded (cu-ft)N/A


Bumper-to-bumper4 years / 50,000 miles
Powertrain5 years / 60,000 miles
Corrosion12 years / Unlimited miles
Roadside assistance4 years / 50,000 miles
Free scheduled maintenance3


Front airbagsStandard
Side airbagsStandard
Head airbagsNot Available
Antilock brakesStandard
Electronic brake enhancementsbraking assist
Traction controlNot Available
Stability controlOptional
Rollover protectionStandard
Emergency assistance systemNot Available
NHTSA crash test, driverNot Tested
NHTSA crash test, passengerNot Tested
NHTSA crash test, side frontNot Tested
NHTSA crash test, side rearNot Tested
NHTSA rollover resistanceNot Tested

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