2008 VW New Beetle Anniversary Edition Review & Road Test
Who said black and white was boring?
Competent & Reliable, Cheeky Character, Limited Build Volume
Fuel Economy, Lacks Power, Rear Seat & Boot Space, Aging Design
– by Matt Brogan
The New Beetle has been quite a success story for Volkswagen since its inception in 1998. Paving the way for a veritable retro car revival, the Golf based reproduction of the world’s most iconic mass produced car lead the charge for a healthy souk of contemporary classics.
Modern Minis, fresh Fiat 500s, pimped PT Cruisers, and even mighty Monaros have all made a return in recent years with varying degrees of accomplishment.
But before all of them it was the trend setting New Beetle, with its heart warming character and instantly recognisable shape that proved it was by far it was to be the most popular retro reproduction.
With that in mind, Volkswagen decided to celebrate the new Bug’s tenth birthday (which incidentally marks 70 years of the original Beetle) with an Anniversary Edition. A bounty of extra additions to an already well kitted car has made the package a worthy investment over that of the standard model.
In addition to the standard feature list, the Anniversary Edition gains 17” Versus alloy wheels, a Superleggera-esque black side stripe, sports suspension, fog lamps and cruise control, as well as a raft of white stitched black leather and vinyl.
Leather wrapped steering wheel, leather wrapped gear knob, leather wrapped handbrake grip, leatherette (vinyl) sports seats and matching white bordered carpet floor mats all for just $2,000 more than the regular recommended retail price.
Built in VW’s Puebla Plant in Mexico, you can have an Anniversary Edition in any colour you want, so long as it’s Campanella White. Mated with a Black Magic painted roof and wing mirrors, the two primary tones contrast one another effectively to further highlight the sporty retro-futurist design, as Volkswagen put it.
I first drove the New Beetle in Ikon and Turbo guise quite some years back and must pass comment that this variant does indeed feel considerably slower than either of those two models, leading me to believe I was perhaps quite spoiled back then. This version, for one quite obvious reason, is a little more relaxed in the pace department.
The funky white Bug is powered by a 1.6 litre naturally aspirated four cylinder engine which produces a rather modest 75kW @ 5,600rpm and 148Nm of torque @ 3,800rpm. This translates to a competent but unenthusiastic performer who although happy enough to keep with the steady flow of city traffic does not like being heavily loaded and will certainly not win you any races, especially when overtaking.
What it does do incredibly well however is perform honestly for years on end. Being such a well proven engine, the humble 1600’s trusted reliability means that although it’s a little slower than some of its competitors, it’s also very unlikely to ever present any real issues, which in my books is a good attribute to have on your side.
Fuel consumption is a little higher than preferable in today’s climate and at 10.0 litres / 100km (combined) is unlikely to challenge similarly sized rivals at the pump. It’s no surprise given the comparatively heavy body the Bug is forced to lug around and I did find that in a week of very conservative driving, this figure was very hard to break.
Despite its weight, which is considerable primarily because of the amount of safety built in to the car, the Anniversary Edition handles rather well, thanks in part to the bonus of grippy sports tuned suspension.
Cornering is a controlled and reasonably well balanced affair even over mid-corner lumps and bumps, and despite such a high stance body, the Bug presents minimal body roll. The comfort offered is also quite impressive and not nearly as stiff as you’d expect from a sporty riding car which allows an enjoyable ride to see and be seen in.
As with all New Beetles the body shape dictates quite tight rear seat accommodation, especially in the headroom department and the boot space on offer is also quite minimalist at 209 litres.
You may also wish to bear in mind that it a dedicated four-seater which could see one of your friend’s in a cab, though I’m sure with the looks and personality exuded most buyers won’t mind.
So if you’re prepared to sacrifice a little in the way of size, zip and economy for a safe, reliable and good looking ride that boasts character and just so happens to be a little fun, then perhaps the Anniversary Edition is for you.
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