2007 Publications International, Ltd
2001-2002 Volkswagen Beetle
The 2001-2002 Volkswagen New Beetle models included the most-powerful Bug ever -- and a first-ever New Beetle recall.
Base price range for the 2001 Volkswagen New Beetle was $15,900 for the base GL model with a manual transmission and a 115-horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder. Turbodiesel models had 90 horsepower and started at $17,900. Top of the line was the 150-horsepower turbocharged GLX, which started at $21,175.
The 2001 GLX picked up a high-power Monsoon audio system for 2001, and optional 17-inch wheels. The audio system was optional on the GLS model, and the wheels were optional on the GLS Turbo as part of a new Sport Luxury Package.
The Toyota Celica, Acura RSX, and Ford Focus ZX3 joined the list of New Beetle alternatives. U.S. Sales of the 2001 New Beetle for calendar year 2001 totaled 65,201, a dip of about 15,000 from 2000. Dealer gouging was now a thing of the past.
Volkswagen issued the first-ever New Beetle recall in 2002, for an anti-lock-brake electrical control unit that could short circuit and start a fire. The recall included all 2001 and 2002 New Beetles.
The high end of the 2002 Volkswagen New Beetle base price range crept upward again, and now sat at $23,400. Some compensation came in the form of a better bumper-to-bumper warranty of 4 years/50,000 miles (up from 2/24,000). On the other hand, a 10-year/100,00-mile powertrain warranty that had been part of an aggressive promotional blitz was scaled back to 5/60,000.
The big news for the 2002 Volkswagen New Beetle was the Turbo S, a new model with unique front and rear trim. It was powered by a variant of the 1.8-liter turbo four, uprated to 180 horsepower at 5500 rpm. Torque was 173 pounds/feet at 1950 rpm.
Mated to the engine was a new 6-speed manual transmission. The turbo functioned smoothly and without lag, and 60 mph came up from a standing stop in about 7.5 seconds. At highway speeds, the Turbo S was happy to run in fourth gear, leaving the highest two gears available for speeds above 80 or 90. A stiffened suspension helped keep the S's power planted on the pavement.
All turbo New Beetles picked up traction control for 2002, and every model got newly styled wheels and wheel covers. Body colors became more adventurous for the GLS turbo: Snap Orange (as part of the "Lifestyle" option), Luna Green, and Riviera Blue. Interior colors with these packages matched the body paint.
U.S. sales of the 2002 Volkswagen New Beetle took another dip of some 15,000 units, to 49,549.