Welcome to Sunday Matinee, where we highlight classic car reviews or other longer videos I find on YouTube. Kick back and enjoy this blast from the past.
Lots of us hardcore enthusiasts like to rag on the recently-departed New Beetle. And the car gave us good reason to do so with its overly-cute looks, flower vase, and poor reliability.
But even as VW themselves have given the Old New Beetle the boot in favor of a supposedly more "masculine" car simply called the Beetle, we tend to forget what a giant deal this car was back in the late 1990s. The Golf-based New Beetle was a hit on the concept car circuit, and it sparked massive interest from the public when it was launched in 1997.
Credit the fantastic design work for all of that — it updates the original Beetle's looks in an extremely modern and attractive way. For what it wants to be, it's a great looking car, and I think that's the main reason it was able to hang on mostly unchanged for about 13 years.
Everybody loved the New Beetle when it came out, even noted car-mudgeon Jeremy Clarkson, who seems enthralled with the car in this Top Gear clip from early 1998. Clarkson says he was never a fan of the ass-engined, hippie-dippy Nazi-mobile that was the original Beetle, but he gives high praise to the New Beetle's fit and finish, comfort, design and power.
And Clarkson accurately predicts what a hit the car would become. Bill Gates and the president of Pakistan ordered one, he says, and VW got 1.2 million hits on their website about the New Beetle. That must have been an insane amount back in the late 90s.
Say what you want about the New Beetle, it was definitely a success. Do you think the New(er) Beetle will manage the same?