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2001 VW Beetle GLS

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SAN FRANCISCO:  Our test drive this week is Volkswagen’s New Beetle GLS, a design the German car builder re-introduced to waiting consumers back in 1998. Although the car’s exterior evokes a DejaVu experience linked to the original, rear-engined "buzzer" we grew to love, it’s actually a safe, completely different and well-built version. The result is a Beetle that not only supersedes the original in all areas, it can be downright fast, too.

Known as the "people’s car," Ferdinand Porsche designed the Beetle during the World War II years as an answer to affordability and economy. The Beetle immediately caught on in America after an inauspicious debut in 1949, and by the Sixties, became an icon of the "Flower Children" in its many shapes and sizes. Along with the Micro Bus and sportier sibling Karman Ghia, Volkswagen’s Beetle firmly entrenched on consumer minds the advantage of thinking "small" and enjoying good times with economy and reliability as main advantages.

After a hiatus caused by the car not meeting American safety standards in the Seventies, The Beetle disappeared from American showrooms in 1979. However, today over 40,000 per annum of the "old Beetles" are produced in Pueblo, Mexico, right along side the new version!

The New Beetle is similar to the original model only in outward design. The New Beetles are built on the highly respected Golf chassis platform, offering excellent handling, great comfort factors for a small wheelbase car (98.9) and a good deal of engine pep. There’s a long list of standard features, excellent fuel economy and safety features that far outweigh many competing smaller cars. Add the GLS’s base price of only $16,850, and Volkswagen has a real winner on its hands.

We’re not going to spend much time explaining the outward characteristics of the Beetle since every car enthusiast knows what the car looks like. It’s the interior that receives very high grades, with more than ample head room, front and side-airbags for front passengers, easy to read gauges, driver and passenger seat height adjusters, four cup holders, great seat comfort and a remote anti-theft locking system. The cockpit is well done overall, and for whatever reason, the pleasant sounding engine "buzz" we heard from the old Beetle somehow comes through in the new model, too.

Other standards include 4-wheel disc brakes with anti-lock, power mirrors, air conditioning, independent suspension, and a full-size spare tire. Throw in the standard 6-speaker AM/FM Cassette sound system, power windows, cruise control and a host of other standard features, and the consumer can literally buy a New Beetle with no options and feel like they’ve got a fully optioned vehicle.

On the road, precision, power and comfort greet the driver and passengers. The standard 2.0-liter, 115-horsepower 4- cylinder is more than adequate, offering enough torque throughout the power band. Optional engines include a 1.8-liter Turbocharged 150-horsepower design and a 48-miler per gallon Turbo Direct Injection diesel. Cost for the GLS 1.8 Turbo is $19,000 base, while the Turbo diesel (GLS TDI badge) will run $17,900 in its base form. The mileage estimates from the standard 2.0 are 24 city and 31 highway.

The biggest change from the original Beetle version is the fact that the motor is now in front, as are the drive wheels. Overall, the Beetle receives an "A" for mechanicals and small car crash safety.

Our lime green metallic test Beetle came equipped with only two options: nice looking alloy wheels ($310) and a cold weather package ($150) which adds heated seats. The final price, including destination, came in at $17,835.

Finally, we must add that a 2001 New Beetle can be purchased from a low of only $14,900 for the base GL model, which is delivered sans the power windows and door locks, keyless entry and cruise control. Other than that, it’s still the same, trusty New Beetle in nearly every aspect.

This car may not be for everyone, but if the design captures your fancy, you’ll receive a "Grade A" car with excellent reliability and resale value that is a lot of fun to drive.. By Greg Zyla AutoWire.Net - San Francisco

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Byline:  By Greg Zyla AutoWire.Net - San Francisco
Column Name:   "The Extra Mile Test Drive"
Topic:  2001 VW New Beetle GLS
Word Count:   738
Photo Caption:  2001 VW New Beetle GLS
Photo Credits:  VW Internet Media
Series #:   2000 - 48

Download the Microsoft Word version here:   2001 VW Beetle GLS

Download the original image file here:  2001 VW Beetle GLS 101k

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