Sporty/performance car; Built in Mexico
  • 2-door hatchback
  • transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $2,200 – $8,800*

1999 Volkswagen New Beetle

1999 Volkswagen New Beetle

2000 Volkswagen New Beetle 1.8T

2000 Volkswagen New Beetle

1999 Volkswagen New Beetle

  • Acceleration (Turbo)
  • Standard antilock brakes
  • Build quality
  • Fuel economy
  • Side airbags
  • Rear-seat room
  • Visibility

As sport coupes go, this one is actually quite practical. The New Beetle’s driving and emotional appeal are strong enough too, to overcome its skimpy rear seat and visibility blind spots. New Beetles were in short supply and shockingly high demand at first, but that began to taper off somewhat, so more are likely to be available on used-car lots.


Not many people had ever expected to see one on the street when Volkswagen showed a modern-day Beetle at Detroit’s auto show in 1994, as a concept vehicle. Yet here it was, in 1998: a contemporary rendition of the old Beetle, similar in basic shape but bigger and with a conventional powertrain underneath. No one really expected a rear-mounted or air-cooled engine, after all–two distinctive traits of the original Beetle. The New Beetle, then, revived the general profile and character of the famous original VW Bug in a modern, better-equipped automobile. Essentially, it put a Bug-like body over the chassis and running gear of the fourth-generation Golf hatchback (coming for 1999). All New Beetles had 4-cylinder engines. The base model’s engine was rated at 115 horsepower, and the TDI model used a 90-horsepower turbocharged diesel four. All Beetles had a standard 5-speed manual transmission or optional 4-speed automatic. Front side airbags were standard. So were 4-wheel disc brakes, with antilocking optional.

Yearly Updates

1999 New Beetle
Antilock braking became standard in the New Beetle’s second season. Even more notable was the new turbocharged GLX edition, which boasted 150 horsepower. The GLX got wider alloy wheels than its mates, plus a speed-activated rear spoiler, leather seating, and a glass power sunroof. All models got new “ring” type headrests for front and rear occupants, larger cupholders, and an optional power glass sunroof.
2000 New Beetle
A new Cold Weather option package included heated front seats. New Beetles added antitheft-coded ignition keys and a dashboard light that illuminated when the brakes might need servicing.
2001 New Beetle
17-inch wheels and tires and a new Sport Luxury package were the main additions for 2001.
2002 New Beetle
The new Turbo S model had 180 hp and introduced to the line a 6-speed manual transmission for this model year. The Turbo S had slightly different front and rear trim and a stiffer suspension. VW’s bumper-to-bumper warranty was now 4 years/50,000 mi. instead of 2/24,000, and the powertrain warranty was 5/60,000 instead of 10/100,000.
2003 New Beetle
A convertible model was added for 2003. The GL convertible has a manual folding top, other convertibles a power top; all include a heated glass rear window and rollover bars that deploy if sensors detect an imminent tip. Other changes for ’03 included standard power windows and cruise control and optional heated seats on GL models. GLS models added alloy wheels and sunroof.
2004 New Beetle
Available in ’04 is Volkswagen’s Telematics emergency and concierge system. Other additions to the New Beetle this year include restyled wheels, available xenon headlights, and a CD-player that reads MP3-formatted discs.
2005 New Beetle
Optional satellite radio and linewide availability of a 6-speed automatic transmission lead changes for Volkswagen’s 2005 retro-styled cars. Also new for ’05, factory audio systems add a jack for connecting digital music players, and satellite radio is available for all models.


transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive

Three engines have been available under New Beetle hoods. The base 2.0-liter 4-cylinder makes 115 horsepower. A 1.9-liter turbodiesel went into TDI models, rated at 90 horsepower. In 1999, a high-performance turbocharged gas engine became available, whipping up 150 horses. Either a 5-speed manual transmission or a 4-speed automatic might be installed.

ohc I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.0/121
Engine HP 115
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 122
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual
4-speed automatic
6-speed automatic

Turbocharged dohc I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 1.8/109
Engine HP 150
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 155-162
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual
4-speed automatic
6-speed automatic
Turbocharged dohc I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 1.8/109
Engine HP 180
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 173
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
6-speed manual
6-speed automatic

Turbodiesel ohc I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 1.9/116
Engine HP 90
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 149-155
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual
4-speed automatic
6-speed automatic

Road Test

The smooth-running base gas engine feels peppy with manual transmission, though it’s short on power at speeds above 60 mph with either gearbox. VW’s turbodiesel has no problem keeping up with traffic, but its passing power does not match that of the gas engine–and being a diesel, it suffers more vibration and noise. Although the turbocharged gasoline engine suffers a delay in power delivery below 3000 rpm, it accelerates strongly after that. The Turbo S, introduced in 2002, is faster than other Beetles–7.4 sec 0-60 in our test–but it further exaggerates the turbo-lag problem.The automatic transmission on one test car was slow to engage after being shifted from Park, but generally changed up and down smoothly and promptly. Our 2.0-liter test cars averaged 26.4 mpg with manual shift, 21.1 mpg with automatic. A GLS Turbo with automatic returned 22.7 mpg, while a stick-shift diesel got a super-frugal 42.1 mpg.

Thanks in part to unusual-for-the-class 16-inch tires, the ride is comfortable but firm, soaking up most bumps with ease. Steering and handling are a notch above the class norm, but the slab-sided New Beetle gets jostled by crosswinds. Braking is strong and sure. Above 70 mph, passengers have to raise their voices to carry on a conversation, though automatic-transmission models are somewhat quieter on the highway, due to their gearing.

Interiors brim with high-grade materials and expensive-looking touches, though it takes a few tries to become familiar with the unorthodox radio buttons. Power accessory switches mounted flat on the door panels are awkward to reach. Front seats are comfortable and supportive, and few cars of any size offer as much front head and leg room. In back, leg room is tight if the front seats are more than halfway back. More serious, passengers over 5-foot-6 will find their heads against the inner hatch lid. Front roof pillars are thick at their bases. Also, outside mirrors are mounted unusually high, cutting the driver’s vision of some traffic. Interior storage space is skimpy. Luggage room under the rear hatch is modest, but the rear seats fold nearly flat to conveniently expand the cargo area. Paint quality and fit-and-finish have been excellent. Bodies have been solid and rattle-free on New Beetles tested.


Model Tested: 2001 Volkswagen New Beetle GL, auto

Ratings values are on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the best. With the exception of Value, these numbers reflect how the vehicle compares against the universe of vehicles, not just against rivals in its class.


Acceleration - 4
Fuel Economy - 5
Ride Quality - 6
Steering/Handling - 6
Quietness - 6


Controls/Materials - 6
Room/Comfort Front - 7
Room/Comfort Rear - 3
Cargo Room - 3


Value - 5

Total: 51


2-door hatchback
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
98.9 161.1 67.9 59.5
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
12.0-18.6 14.5 4
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
41.3 34.6 39.4 33.0
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: 1999 New Beetle 2-door hatchback


(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - 4
Front Passenger Injury - 4

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - 5
Rear Passenger Injury - 3


(A score of 100 is average. Lower is better)

Collision 82
Injury 67
Theft 40

Trouble Spots

Hard starting
Description: Diesel engines may be hard to start or run poorly below in cold weather due to fuel clouding. VW recommends using Stanadyne One Shot during the winter. (2000-02)
Audio system
Description: Poor AM radio reception when switches (brake, lights, locks, etc.) are operated is usually due to the radio-antenna cable being routed too close to the wiring harness. (1998-99)
Tire wear
Description: To reduce tire wear and improve handling, the rear-wheel alignment specifications have been revised. (1998-2000)
Vehicle noise
Description: The speakers in the doors may rattle due to loose rivets. (1998-99)
Vehicle noise
Description: The dashboard may whistle at speeds over 45 mph because of poor sealing of the HVAC plenum. (1998-99)

Recall History

1998-02 Beetle
Description: The brake-lamp switch may malfunction. Dealer will inspect and replace all affected parts.
2001-02 Beetle
Description: ABS Electrical Control Unit can short circuit, causing a fire.
2003-05 New Beetle convertibles equipped with an advanced (dual-stage) airbag system
Description: The front airbags may deploy more forcefully than needed in a low-speed crash due to one or more defective crash sensors. Dealers will inspect each vehicle to determine that the specific defective crash sensor is present on one or both sides of the vehicle. All defective crash sensors will be replaced.
2004 Beetle
Description: The passenger detection function of the passive occupant detection system may become disabled, resulting in possible air bag malfunction. Dealer will reprogram affected systems.
2004-05 diesel Beetle
Description: High-pressure diesel pump may contain an improper fastener, which could allow diesel fuel to escape.

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.


Used-car pricing varies widely depending on local market conditions. Therefore, we recommend visiting websites that list used cars for sale to get a better idea of what a specific model is selling for in your area.

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