Volkswagen Beetle Turbo : 2002

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MSRP Engine HP Manufactured
$23,400 1.8-litre, turbo-charged, I4 180.0 n/a
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The VW Beetle Turbo S Hatchback boasts an impressive 1.8-litre, turbo-charged four-cylinder engine that cranks out 180 horsepower and 174 lb-ft of torque. Pretty good for a cute-looking little car! For added fun and excitement, the only transmission available on this puppy is a six-speed manual - great for quick acceleration.

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Better interior than American cars costing twice as much; smooth and powerful 180-hp turbo four engine; solid German engineering.

At 3,005 pounds, the Beetle Turbo S is a solid little bugger - one that comes well equipped for $23,400 (that's before a $550 destination charge). This sticker represents a 47% premium over the $15,900 lowest-priced New Beetle, the GL, which comes with a 115-horsepower motor. Even the affordable GL, like all new Beetles, comes with a long list of standard features--but Wolfsburg's carmeisters packed extra treats into the Turbo S.

The best feature of the Turbo S: its 180-horsepower four-cylinder engine. This silky power plant, which gets a boost of 10.5 pounds per square inch from an intercooled turbocharger, is shoehorned into the Beetle's front end and is attached to an equally righteous six-speed manual transmission that has final drives in both fifth and sixth gears. This combination propels the Turbo S to 60 mph in 7.4 seconds and to a top speed (computer-controlled) of 130 mph.

The long feature set on the Turbo S includes four-wheel disc anti-lock brakes, a power glass sunroof, two-tone leather seats (heated up front), heated side mirrors, heated windshield washers, an eight-speaker Monsoon stereo/cassette player, an automatic air deflector and Volkswagen's electronic stability program (ESP). The only option is a dealer-installed trunk-mounted, six-disc CD changer, which runs about $350.

On the outside, VW distinguishes the Turbo S--which like all new Beetles is built in Puebla, Mexico--with revised front and rear fascia, including a front spoiler and fog lights and a dual exhaust. The Turbo S sits on 17-inch alloy wheels and fat low 45-series tires.

For 2002, Volkswagen fiddled with its warranty program. The good news: The new car warranty--which covers pretty much everything on or inside the car--is extended to four years or 50,000 miles (whichever comes first). And VW's 24-hour roadside assistance program has been expanded to four years or 50,000 miles. The tradeoff: The ten-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty has been cut back to five years/60,000 miles.

Great. But the point of the S wasn't supposed to be about the warranty but about the way the car delivers more performance than the housewife (base) edition. Not bashing housewives here, but they, as well as singles and empty nesters, now seem to be the primary target for the New Beetle and its sagging sales. So is the S enough to lift the image of the soft Beetle?

From The Driver's Seat.
The Turbo S may trace its roots to an economical small-car platform but there's very little about this car that says "economy." The one exception is the stated EPA mileage of 23 city and 30 highway, or about the same as a family sedan such as a four-cylinder Honda Accord.

The Turbo S, like all Beetles, has a car key that folds into a key case and pops out at the click of a button. That's a small detail, but if you've ever put an ignition key in your pocket and had it gouge into your thigh you'll appreciate this.

In addition to the remote functions found on most new cars, the VW key and its case control the car's anti-theft (ignition and radio) system. Owners also get a valet key (which won't open the trunk in case you have your briefcase back there). One drawback: Extra or replacement keys can only be obtained from a VW dealer at about $60 a pop.

The steering wheel has two adjustments: up and down and in and out. One gripe: The height adjustment could use more range. That's about it for the gripes, though. The inside of the Turbo S is mostly about understated elegance. Switches and controls are firm and solid. Brushed aluminum is used sparingly and is complemented with a high-quality silvery plastic on the door panels.

Gauges are white on black in the Turbo S instead of the blue found in other Beetle models. The dash area closest to the driver and passenger are covered in attractive black rubber-like dimpled matting. Buyers who require fake wood in their cars should look elsewhere.

The front seats are snug but quite comfortable, with ample side bolstering. Twin cupholders (which can also be configured as one cupholder and one ashtray/coin tray) are located aft of the stick shift. For easier access, the cupholder tray swivels to the right. The center armrest can be folded back out of the way but, when the armrest is in position, the stalk of the stick shift feels about an inch too short.

Maybe it's atonement for the complete lack of heat in the original Beetle but the second-generation car is a hottie that can warm up the passenger cabin before you make it out of your neighborhood. Like all Beetles, the climate system comes with a replaceable filter for pollen, dirt and odors.

The New Beetle is called a five-passenger vehicle but is best suited for no more than four occupants. The rear seats are most appropriate for children but, like most two-door cars, it is a hassle getting small-fry seated and belted in the back. And while the trunk only has a capacity of 12 cubic feet, the rear seat folds down and give this New Beetle 27.1 cubic feet of storage. We found this space more than ample for our family's monthly haul from the local warehouse club--a load normally transported in a Jeep Grand Cherokee.

In a market where even a fully loaded Chevrolet Cavalier can sticker for over $17,000, the $24,000 tab on the Turbo S is competitive with the cars in its class. Of course, your respective local dealers are likely to lop off a higher percentage of the list price of the Cavalier than the Turbo S. To keep this latest Beetle well south of $30,000, Volkswagen held back on a few features.

One example: The rear view mirror on the Turbo S comes with manual dimming controls whereas the Beetle GLX has an automatic mirror. The GLX also comes with rain-sensitive windshield wipers. And the Turbo S, like all Beetles, has manual, rather than power, front seats. None of these minor limitations detract from the primary virtue of the Turbo S--the driving experience.

The Turbo S is a blast on the road. In stark contrast to prehistoric Bugs, this New Beetle is amazingly quiet, especially for a small car with 180 hp. The turbo kicks in smoothly. Some credit for the silent treatment may be due to VW's addition of a turbo noise filter on the S. If there is turbo lag with this car it isn't readily apparent.

Maximum torque, 173 pound-feet, comes on at 1,950 rpm and hangs in through 5,000 rpm. In short, the Turbo S has plenty of moxie both at the bottom and top end of its range.

Steering on the Turbo S is tight and responsive and the brakes feel up to the task of stopping the car as quickly as needed. The ride is solid, but not punishing; the Turbo S has no trouble maintaining its composure over railroad crossings and minor road bumps.

The stability system (ESP) uses the car's engine power, brakes and transmission to help stabilize the car if it is pushed beyond its normal limits--something that is not easy to do under typical driving conditions.

The speed-activated rear spoiler, which comes standard with the Turbo S and other Beetle turbos, is located just above the rear hatch. The spoiler pops up when the car exceeds 45 mph and lowers when speed drops below 10 mph. It is hard to believe that the sound the spoiler makes upon closing--similar to a power antenna in action--has generated so much hysteria in the automotive press.

That's not to say that Volkswagen couldn't do a better job with the spoiler's override switch. Who was the smart guy who decided to put this control underneath the dash? And why bother with an override switch if the car's computer still tells the deflector to move up or down at certain speeds? The car needs a real kill switch that's up front and visible.

But there are some head scratchers. While the Turbo S comes with 17-inch wheels, the spare is only 16 inches. Why is it smaller? The larger wheel won't fit inside the New Beetle's spare tire well. The Turbo S owners' manual cautions against driving any distance or at highway speeds when the spare is in use.

The New Beetle Turbo S is definitely a contender for people who want a zippy, individualistic car and don't have to worry about carrying lots of passengers or big loads. This car also makes sense for big families whose vehicle fleet already contains a sport utility or minivan but lacks a fun-to-drive commuter.

In the mid-$20k price range the Turbo S competes against several terrific sporty vehicles, such as the Acura RSX, Subaru WRX and even the Mazda Miata.

- MSRP: $23,400
- Color options: Reflex Silver metallic, Black, Red and Platinum Gray (early 2003)
- Suspension type: front: independent McPherson struts; rear: independent torsion beam axle
- Acceleration: 7.4 seconds
- Engine type: I-4, turbocharged, with 5 valves per cylinder
- Horsepower: 180 @ 5,500 rpm
- Torque: 173 lbs. Ft. @ 1,950 to 5,00 rpm
- EPA mileage: city 23, highway 30

(by Steve Kichen - Forbes)

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It's pretty Obvious what the Volkwagen logo is (a V over a W in a blue background, sorounded by a circle). It's origin is rather mundane though. The logo was the result of an office competition to see come up with a logo. The winner of the competition (who won 50 Marks for his troubles) was an engineer named Franz Reimspiess (the same man who perfected the engine for the Beetle in the 1930's).

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