By Paula MacPherson
When thinking about the 2012 Volkswagen Beetle, I couldn't help but remember the original yellow New Beetle we had for review. It stayed with us for a week, just before the car arrived at area dealers, and the response from onlookers was overwhelming.
Other drivers smiled, waved and gave us a thumbs-up signal of approval. When we returned to the car after seeing a movie, the windows were covered with smudges from foreheads and hands. Everyone wanted to look inside. Neighbors slowed down, or actually stopped and got out of their cars, to get a better look when it was parked in our driveway.
But the magic is gone. Most people ignored our bright red review Beetle.
That could be good. If you always wanted a New Beetle, but did not want to be the center of attention, you are now safe. Perhaps too safe for Volkswagen’s taste.
As for the car itself, the front seat and tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel have a very wide range of adjustments. I could actually get more comfortable in the Beetle than in my older VW Jetta diesel. I particularly like the ability to get close to the pedals without having to get uncomfortably close to the air bag-equipped steering wheel.
Driving the car is pleasant enough, though I think it would be more fun with the manual transmission. The steering has a solid and precise feel without being too light and I felt secure on the highway. The Beetle showed great stability going straight down the road.
The radio and navigation system is complex and distracting, but all the other controls are easy to work, even while driving. I would, however, like to see the climate controls mounted a little higher.
We ended up getting just over 23 miles per gallon with the 2.5-liter engine. That would prompt me to wait for the diesel, which is supposed to be out sometime in 2012.
I don’t know if the new design is more masculine or not, but I do know that I did not find the look as charming as the original. I guess I liked it better when the car was a little shorter, narrower and taller.