2002 VW New Beetle Turbo S (384)


This week I’m reflecting on my week in the Pacific Northwest in a Volkswagen Beetle Turbo S. How sweet it is, Jackie Gleason used to say. And I must admit, this is a pretty impressive little car that is more Porsche than VW in my opinion. In fact, most of the production is sold in Europe where consumers don’t view the New Beetle as a super simple, basic economy car as we do in this country.

But this car is truly at home on the autobahn fast lane along with Mercedes, Audi and BMW. I, like lots of folks out there, have owned a VW sometime in their lives. If like me this car helped get you through college. But even after college I found it was also good for my then young family when we bought a 1970 model. It was solid and light-years ahead of the 1960’s vintage that got me through school. Today’s New Beetle is so far advanced over either of those it is a contradiction to the name it bears.

General Info:

Parts – 30% Germany 30% Mexico 12% U.S. & Canadian

Assembly – Puebla, Mexico

Class: Sub-Compact

Volkswagen Cars: Cabrio, Eurovan, Golf, Jetta, Beetle, Passat.

Handling & Performance:

Hold on to your hat. This is going to be “Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride”. Remember when Disneyland had different tickets? Well this would be an “E” Ticket with a turbo that jerks the steering wheel in your hand when it kicks in. The electronic stabilization program works well in helping the driver stay out of trouble. An error warning light accompanies the engine and braking assist for demanding maneuvers. This is usually only found on more expensive cars. The speedometer goes to 160 but it is electronically governed for a max 130 mph.


You either love it or hate it. Sure it looks like VW of yesteryear but with today’s technology. Each year they give it a nicer, sleeker and sporty looking car that is breaking out of the traditional VW Beetle I grew up with.

Fit and Finish:

Really quite good in spite of the stereotype “Made in Mexico” conjures up. But, it is only assembled in Mexico and most of the components, particularly the engine and transmission for example are made in Germany. In any case they still have a good work ethic there and do a good job putting the pieces of the puzzle together. Southern Californian’s will remember when the hot ticket was to go get your car “Tuck and Rolled” in Tijuana, Mexico?


VW Beetles (Bugs) were skimpily equipped in the “Good?” old days. Of course that’s when men were men and you didn’t need no heat or air conditioning. Well, the truth is we simply weren’t spoiled yet. Today’s New Beetle is equipped with everything you’d ever want included as standard equipment.


Not bad for how this car handles and how well equipped it is, but after you replace the horrid seats the cost may be high than you’d like.

Consumer Recommendation:

I hate to say it, but I wouldn’t buy this car for one important reason. The seats are terribly uncomfortable, especially on a long trip.

Manufacturer Recommendations:

Whoever designed the seats should be taken out and shot. Vee have vays of getting better seats, and buying a different car is one way.

The Competition:

Ford Focus $12-18,000, Honda Civic $13-21,000, Hyundai Tiburon $14,000, Mitsubishi Eclipse $18-26,000, Saturn SC $13-16,000, Subaru Impreza $19-24,000, Toyota Celica $17-22,000, Toyota Corolla $13-15,000, Toyota Echo $10-11,000.

Good News:

Faster’n snot, smooth ride and fun to drive, great warranty and roadside assistance that is standard along with an impressive list including leather and sun roof.

Bad News:

Horribly uncomfortable seats after a short 30 miles or so, premium gas required, limited production said to be only 5,000 for 2002 out of 55,000 being built.

Standard Equipment:

1.8 liter 180 horsepower 20 valve 4-cylinder turbo charged engine, 6-speed manual trans, front wheel drive, 4-wheel ABS disc brakes, power steering, speed activated rear spoiler, electronic stabilization program (ESP), fog lights, dual front and side airbags, immobilizer anti-theft system, leather, power heated mirrors, stereo with cassette, air conditioning, power windows and door locks, cruise control, glass power sun roof, and remote keyless entry.

Gas Stats:

23 City and 30 Highway MPG.


MSRP $23,400.

Your comments are welcomed. My e-mail is joe@autolove.com
Copyright © 2014 – An Automotive Love Affair.

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