A long-anticipated New Beetle convertible pumped fresh life into the 2003-2005 Volkswagen Beetle model mix. The New Beetle convertible arrived for 2003 and took its place as Volkswagen's only drop-top model, effectively replacing the Golf Cabrio in VW showrooms.
Starting price for the least-expensive 2003 Volkswagen New Beetle increased for the first time since 2000, to $15,950, a bump of $50. Starting price for the top-end model, the GLX convertible, was now $26,725, an increase of $3,325.
The base 2003 New Beetle convertible, designated GL, had a manual folding top; the others (GLS, GLS 1.8T,and GLX) had power tops. All convertible models had an optional 6-speed manual. Besides increased noise and cowl shake, the primary drawbacks to the new ragtop were reductions in passenger and cargo room.
Volkswagen's new rollover-bar system utilized sensors to detect an imminent tip, and automatically deployed what Volkswagen called Automatic Rollover Supports. An anti-skid system with brake assist became standard on the Turbo S and the turbocharged convertibles. Turbo S came with unique trim, a stiffened suspension, and 17-inch wheels.
By now, EPA mileage estimates for the Volkswagen New Beetle ranged widely, from 23/29 city/highway with the 2.0-liter and 150-horsepower 1.8-liter turbo with automatic, to 42/49 with the 1.9-liter turbodiesel mated to the available 5-speed manual.
Rivals to the New Beetle now included the Ford Focus SVT and Mini Cooper.
New Beetle sales in the U.S. rose in 2003, to 56,971.
Base prices remained unchanged for the 2004 Volkswagen New Beetle. New features included restyled wheels, available xenon headlights, and a CD player that read MP3 discs.
But the big news was on the service side, with an available innovation Volkswagen called Telematics emergency and concierge system. This was essentially a subscription service offering OnStar global positioning technology, which could locate missing automobiles, and perform remote diagnostic checks, open locked doors, and other useful tricks.
During calendar year 2003, 42,157 New Beetles were purchased in the U.S. -- a significant drop of about 14,800 units.
The 2005 Volkswagen New Beetle base price at the low end jumped for the first time since 2003, to $16,570. But top-range base price was lowered by $200, to $26,525.
Linewide availability of a 6-speed automatic transmission led the changes list for model year 2005. Satellite radio from XM or Sirius was a new available option, and factory sound systems added a jack for connecting digital music players. New Beetle sales in the U.S. reached 41,132 for the 12 months of 2005, off only slightly from 2004.
For more great articles and pictures on new and classic Volkswagens, see:
- Volkswagen Beetle
- New Volkswagen Prices and Reviews
- Used Volkswagen Prices and Reviews