Volkswagen New Beetle

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Years Represented: 1999-2000
Class: Compact
Type: 2-door sedan
Country: Germany `````````````````````````````` Host: GT2, GT3, GT4 & GT5
Price: $15,930 (GT2) //  $25,980 (GT4) // $23,468 (GT5 used car lot)

GT5 Mileage: 12,075.5

Length: 160.7" // Width: 67.9" // Height: 59"
Wheelbase: 98.7"
Track: 59.4" [F], 58.8" [R]
Ground Clearance: 5.9"
Weight: 2,768 lbs (GT2-4) 2,707 pounds (GT5)
Tires: P205/55 HR-16 front & rear
Brakes: vented discs [F], solid discs [R]
ABS? Yes EBD? Yes
F. Suspension: MacPherson struts / anti-roll bar
R. Suspension: torsion beam axle / coils / shox / anti-roll bar
Engine: 1984 cc SOHC inline-4
Aspiration: normal (EFi)
Valves / Cylinder: 2
Bore x Stroke: 3.25" x 3.65"
Compression Ratio: 10.5:1

GT2 Redline: 6,000 // RPM Limit: 7,000
GT4 Idle: 750 // Redline: 6,500 // RPM Limit: 7,000
GT5 Idle: 750 // Redline: 6,400 // RPM Limit: 7,000

Tested Horsepower
GT2: 114 @ 5,300 rpms
GT4: 113 @ 5,200
GT5: 112 @ 5,300

Tested Torque:
GT2: 124 @ 2,500 rpms
GT4: 125 @ 2,400
GT5: 124 @ 2,500

Credits per HP:
GT2: $139.74
GT4: $229.91
GT5: $209.53

Pound / HP ratio:
GT2: 24.3x
GT4: 23.95
GT5: 24.17

HP / Liter:
GT2: 57.4
GT4: 56.9
GT5: 56.4
Transmission: 5-speed automatic (GT2 & 4)
``````````````````````5-speed manual (GT5)

Differential: open

TCS? Yes // ASM? ?
* oil change was performed on GT4 & GT5 cars

* GT5 car had TCS on for all track testing below.

0-60 mph:
GT2: 10.8xx seconds        
GT4: 11.683      
GT5: 11.700

0-100 mph
GT2: 32.4xx seconds        
GT4: 32.466       
GT5: 35.833

400 M
GT2: 17.997 @ 77  mph   
GT4: 18.498 @ 79 mph
GT5: 18.614 @ 78 mph

1 KM
GT2: 32.910 @ 100 mph  
GT4: 33.285 @ 100 mph
GT5: 33.416 @ 100 mph

GT2 Track Test: 2:10.555

GT5 Daytona lap: 1:16.270
GT2 Top Speed: 126.96 mph @ 6,250 rpms

GT4 Top Speed at Redline
1st: 27 mph
2nd: 52 mph
3rd: 82 mph
4th: 109 mph
5th: 121.34 mph @ 5,900 rpm 

GT5 Top Speed at Redline
1st: 29 mph
2nd: 50 mph
3rd: 80 mph
4th: 107 mph
5th: 119.7 mph @ 6,000 rpm


Here it is...the latest New Wave/New Age cutie...the Ultimate Chick (chic) Car of the New Millenium...folks: meet the New Volkswagen Beetle!

It could be your next door neighbor's new toy. It could be an object of desire for your boss (male or female ... although usually female). The New Beetle could be something to laugh at; or it could be the next prize on The Price is Right!

But the reality? So far as placing one of these in racing situations? Get ready: if you've just bought a Beetle 2.0, you've got a bit of a project on your hands. The New Beetle, as we shall see, isn't as "chop-ready" as older ones so far as race preparation goes. New Beetles are heavier, larger, much more powerful, yet not much faster than a Type 1 Beetle from the '60s or '70s.
It seems a shame the New Beetle got invited to the party, but the older one is left out till GT4 came along. Not only is the older model a mass-production classic, possessing a history that stretches over half a century, spawning over 21 million copies, but the VW Beetle (or "Bug") also has been a proficient rally racer to this day. All over the American southwest, Mexico, Australia, etc. ‘Baja Bugs’ are still being chopped up and raced.

What we have here (with the New Beetle) is essentially a yuppified version of the car, which has somehow lost its earlier "poor man's automobile" sort of vibe. The New Beetle is much more egregious, especially if a male is driving. If this male behind the wheel wants to look anything other than yuppyish or emasculated, he's out of luck, as he'll be noticed at every stop light in this one.  
In GT2, I was looking forward to being able to race an older Type 1 Beetle, but (as I said) this doesn't happen till GT4 came along. Sadly, we can only find a vintage Beetle in this game by winning one, and this happens to be one of the oldest-style cars from 1949, not something from the '60s or '70s when Beetles were as much of a fad, as well as a mode of simple transportation. It was possible to actually buy an old-style Beetle till fairly recently if you lived in South America or some other developing areas of the world, which makes their absense in GT2 prominent.

...This is while other classics I and many others had never heard of (Subaru 360, for instance) are stalwarts in this game....not that I'm complaining....  

It seems all the latest VWs (Beetles, Golfs, Boras, etc.) come in a wide assortment of colors, with interesting German names. The New Beetle is a middle-weight, but its lack of power + its height of 59 inches make it seem awkward in racing situations.

So why is it here as a racing choice? Can it be raced? I dunno. That's what we're about to find out I guess. Well s
ince it's here, and since it's unique and popular, the New Beetle gets to be one of my car reviews, even though I'm not necessarily psyched to race it.



------------------ENGINE / DRIVETRAIN--------------------------
114 horsepower in a 2,700 pound car? Pound to power ratio of 24.3?
You don't know the meaning of underpowered till you've hopped into one of these! Fortunately, this 2.0 liter engine's torque kicks-in early, and the Beetle's first turbo upgrade will raise horsepower, providing a nice jump in any GT game so far.

Problem is: if we try and race this car in GT2 with a Stage 1 turbo, there are several horsepower-limited events in which the Beetle will be overqualified, like the 195 hp B-license Gran Turismo Nationals. At best, we can get this car's power up to around 140 or so with racing aspiration, computer chip, engine balancing and the like, so good luck to those who try and race in one of these series.
In GT3, the New Beetle shines early on since many races in the Beginner's League are so ridiculously easy. It is even possible to take a stock Beetle, lightly (but thoroughly) modify all its parts, and win the Beetle Cup, even though this cup features New Beetle Cup cars with racing bodywork.
In GT4, the Beetle can dominate the Sunday Cup with absolutely no mods other than N-tires (assuming the driver is good), but during the FF Challenge it will need some help, especially for drivers who aren't so experienced. But when we try and take it to the Beetle Cup, it'll be smoked because the cars in these events are all on soft racing tires! In this game, the Beetle RSi all-wheel drive version has better chances at winning, of course.

The GT5 Beetle gets a great start in the Beginner's Series, and can last through portions of the Amateurs. I like the Beetle in this game. GT5's racing starts off easier than GT4's, but not as retarded-easy as GT3's. I have found that the New Beetle in this game doesn't feel out of place in either the Sunday Cup or the Clubman. It doesn't suffer as much (handling-wise) as it used to or something.

And power upgrades rate decently high, too. Here's the breakdown. "Full Tuned" means oil change + engine rebuild have been done, as well as the best intake, exhaust parts + computer. And the Turbo stages below include  Stage 3 NA  kit underneath.

                    Horses               Torque
Full Tuned: 126 @ 5,300 / 135 @ 2,700

Stage 1 NA: 173 @ 5,700 / 166 @ 3,200
Stage 2 NA: 196 @ 5,800 / 185 @ 4,800
Stage 3 NA: 211 @ 5,900 / 196 @ 3,400

Stg 1 Turbo: 265 @ 5,900 / 297 @ 2,900
Stg 2 Turbo: 310 @ 5,400 / 324 @ 4,900
Stg 3 Turbo: 310 @ 6,400 / 267 @ 5,900
The gearbox that comes standard in the dealer-bought New Beetle is evenly-paced but awkward. 2nd often isn't tall enough to make it out of various wider curves without redlining, yet 3rd may have you wishing you had bought that fully-tweakable gearbox.

Here's the breakdown: 1st gear redlines at about 26 mph. There's a lot of wheelspin as torque kicks in early, especially in GT3, GT4, or GT5. Yet once those front tires hook-up, all a sudden it's like "gee, where'd all the action go?"

The 2.0 lurches forth from here on. All a sudden, you realize you're actually NOT going anywhere fast! That previous display of might three seconds ago may have fooled some into thinking speed was about to be gathered up, but this is all just an illusion; a promise that definitely does NOT get fulfilled. And assuming one has a Stage 1 turbo or greater installed, there's simply nothing but wheelspin off-the-mark in 1st gear, even if throttle is cut in half.  

2nd gear: 48 mph. When stock, 2nd is pretty dull; but with upgrades it can also cause moments of chirping and slippery behavior under pressure. 3rd gear: 76 mph, or thereabouts. 4th will take the car to about 100 mph. Stock top speed of about 120 to 126 mph (depends on the game) is rather low, but can be remedied with modifyable gearing if one buys upgrades as well. At this speed, the Beetle really starts being affected by wind forces. 

All of this feels just like we expect it to feel: slow. It will be interesting to see which car is faster in GT4, actually, the Type 1 or the New Beetle.   

During testing, the New Beetle got to 60 mph in just over 10 seconds, but massively struggled to reach 100. Torque (and therefore acceleration) really drops off once this bug is in 4th gear. Not that it was stellar to begin with. Despite being an aerodynamic design, this car's lack of power doesn't help much as speed rises.

The amount of combined energy lost to wheelspin from all the Beetles in Gran Turismo could perhaps power all of Micronesia if we could harness it! GT4's Sports Medium tires have better success in lots of early races, but lots of early torque still has a habit of making things difficult in this game. Sure, the torque is warm and authoritative early on, but when do we ever get to take full advantage of it? An Audi or even a front-drive Golf gets the better deal here.

GT5's traction is still iffy with this car's stock radials in place, but once sports are shod, things start to really look up. PD played a lot with physics in this game, and the Beetle now scoots out of many turns with a hint of wheelspin, but nothing like we witnessed in GT3 or 4. And that's even if power is pushing towards 300 horses. And that's without a limited-slip device. 

So let's look further now, into how this car handles from game to game. There is quite a difference, as we shall see.  


------------------CHASSIS / HANDLING-------------------------- 
Do you love understeer?  Well, you've got the right car, right here, right now! Let's embrace and even rejoice, for here we are at the very altar of understeer! 

 You might brake well, turn appropriately, and still find this car slipping slowly towards the outside. So, better tires are in order...preferably soft slicks. Sports will do if turbos aren't installed yet. The car's stock suspension is a pro at handling bumps, but the anti-roll bars that come standard are typically stressed to the max in just about any corner. We can see this during replays, as the tall Beetle looks like it just wants to roll on its side and take a nap every time we take a turn.
Any suspension upgrade is welcome, of course, but semi-racing parts (at least) are most recommended to start getting a better handle. In fact, most racers may want to skip getting a racing suspension...this car really doesn't generate the speed for it. I imagine most drivers (who buy the New Beetle for its looks) probably leave this one far behind at some point. But whatever.
This is one of those front-drive cars that can occasionally get sideways in turns if the driver isn't careful, and he or she won't always be able to rely on front-wheel drive traction to get out of power-slides gone awry. The entire front-end just gets messy, especially in situations where it's needing to transition from side-to-side quickly. Brake balance controller is a good buy early on, and the carbon-metallic pads will help the New Beetle maintain better lap times in tight corners like the ones at Rome's tracks (any of them). Good times, eh? Maybe not.
Main difference in this game is there's lots more wheelspin off-the-line. Those who don't realize GT3 features traction controls from the get-go will never have to worry about this, but for the rest of us... 

The New Beetle feels even less confident than it did during its debut in GT2; understeer even more prevalant into and out of many turns. But like I said earlier, this car is not a total loss in this game. Lots of Beginner League racing can be accomplished, sometimes even while the New Beetle is near-stock. There actually is lots of early (and some later) gaming we can accomplish in a GT3 Beetle if we're persistent and patient enough.  
Those who thought perhaps by some miracle the Beetle's handling is improved in this game have nothing to get excited about. But to be fair, the New Beetle 2.0 doesn't even really start to handle poorly in this game until some power is involved (at least over 170 hp... a Stage 1 turbo). The rest of the time, the New Beetle is simply too slow, even on N2 or N3-quality tires.

Ordinary reflexes can usually save better drivers from most calamities if and when power is near stock. But once power is heightened, and TCS off, a whole new ballgame (Buggame, ha ha) erupts, literally.

The Beetle now struggles to stay afoot once some power is involved. Its front tires often protest if the simplest bumps should unshoe their traction. But that's not all! Now, its rear tires also struggle to keep the car in place! The tall, ladybug-like bodywork occasionally gets thrown off-balance at times, no matter how carefully one has set up any sort of suspension work underneath. Getting sideways happens easy at a track like Trail Mountain or Deep Forest, despite the front-drive layout. Despite lack of speed down those straights. Is the car now more fun or more frustrating?  

About the only thing we can count on at this point are those brakes. The Beetle brakes into most turns with confidence, even as it leans heavily, although this is assuming it's not already in a slide. If one is dealing with understeer on-entry in a Beetle in this game (or GT3 for that matter) it's mostly because he or she's not taking fuller advantage of this car's decent braking ability. Because from here on, understeer starts taking the majority vote if one is not careful, especially exiting turns.

Trekking out of turns at full steam sometimes feels like driving on a road with patches of black ice on it. You can't see the ice, but you know it's there; for there must be some reason why you're slipping off into the netherworld! 

Tuning can dissolve some of the Beetle's dreadful mid-corner or exit-understeer to some extent, but it never truely goes away.

There's not really much to write here, because the New Beetle handles pretty much as it did in GT4, with a few new behaviors to note. But all the understeer in GT4 is still here are equipped. This car's habit of losing its composure and getting skittish (like an antsy bug) once power is being tweaked up and up is also still here.

But it is notable that I'm comparing the GT5 Beetle to the GT4 one assuming both cars have their stock tires in place. GT4's stock tires are medium sports. GT5's stock tires, on the other hand, are medium-grade radials. Understeer in both situations is similar. But GT5 wins over GT4 if we equip the GT4 bug with N2 tires. A GT4 Beetle on N2 tires is actually much worse and hopeless when compared to a GT5 Beetle on "comfort mediums".   

The Beetle as it appears in GT5 now feels very "rubbery". One may get a sense of the suspension flexing over bumps and bowing over curbs, and there's a sense now that the New Beetle is actually rolling on pneumatic tires. Every little bump that the GT5 Beetle soaks (or doesn't soak), every turn it falters into reminds the driver that this is not a racing machine by any means. It's simply being forced into this role by some sort of popular demand. Not OUR popular demand, but PD's and Volkswagen's. Make sense?  

The real-life Beetle is equipped with several gadgets to help it stay safe including: ABS, EBD, and TCS. In GT5, it's now possible to drive with ALL this stuff equipped or unequipped. ABS and TCS can be easily manipulated, and EBD can be simulated by having Active Steering on "strong". Flying around a track like Trail Mountain with all this stuff on makes the car drive exactly like we'd expect it to: somewhat safe, although not a track star by any means. It traipses around with a slightly nervous demeanor, and that EBD (active steering, whatever) often chooses to make the car handle even worse than it should. It has a habit of trying to keep this bug out of spins, adding even MORE understeer if necessary. 

Now, turn all this stuff off (except the ABS) and things improve. The car not only becomes more exciting to drive if power is raised (though it's still a sleepy tank if power is stock), but one can now work with this car to some extent when approaching corners. There is still understeer while braking is being employed, but release those brakes and presto! the car's front-end now grips in! Or at least it tries to. Having sport tires is best, of course, but even on those medium-grade radials the front-end obviously tries its best. It's not perfect, but overall this car is definitely an improvement over GT4.        

All of this points certainly towards a cantankerous, difficult nature, of course. On the other hand, it also shows us that with a little work and patience (and power), the New Beetle can be just as exciting as many other hot hatches in its class. Some surprises start to happen! Whoever thought a car which comes standard with a flower-power holder on its dash could actually win some races??? It can, amazingly.

...But (again) on the other hand, don't take this car too seriously. It's not another Golf. It's not another Peugeot 106 or 306. Not another Civic Si. It has its place once the driver tries to get a little more involved. But the New Beetle 2.0 is still usually second or third-rate compared to these others. 



1). Affordable. The very meaning of Volks Wagen is ‘transportation for the people’. Well, not exactly, but that's close anyways.
2). Cute. Everyone loves a Beetle...those that don't just aren't hip, right? Lots of colors to mix & match as well.
3). Peak power located far from redline. I've never had to deal with an RPM limiter in any Beetle in any game, outside of 1st gear.
4). Great beginner car. I imagine many beginners will choose a New Beetle, too, assuming they know their sister isn't around to make fun of them.

5). Also a great tuner's challenge, for those who are more experienced. See if you can get THIS suburban shopping goddess handling to your liking!  
6). Turbo upgrades available in any game. GT4 and GT5 add NA upgrades, too.
7). Beginner's League car that competitively competes with others early on, with a lack of overkill.
8). GT2: racing kit available.
9). GT4 & GT5: fuel efficiency.

10: GT5: great visibility from the in-car view. Large windows all around, and useful mirrors, basically.    

1). Sucky acceleration.
2). GT3 & 4: Launching this car is a chore, as wheelspin easily ruins.

3). Awkward gearbox.

4). Awkwardly early torque, too (GT2 somewhat exempt here).   
5). Normal or N tires are of little use, even in a nearly stock, barely modified car. GT5's comfort radials do get used quite a bit during various events in this game, however.
6). Body roll and low-speed UNDERSTEER are standard and will become the equivalent of an annoying salesman who calls every damn day!
7). High pound-to-power ratio.
8). The Stage 1 turbo will limit this VW from taking part in several of the B-license races (GT2). Take it off, and the car is now under-powered.
9). Poor low-speed maneuverability for a FWD car.
10). The list of parts needed immediately can be overwhelming to a poor driver (including brakes, tires, racing gearbox, engine upgrades, weight reductions and suspension). 

11). GT5: as a Standard, this one did not do so well with its port from GT4. Fenders which should look curvy look as though they've been made out of play-doh, for instance.
12). The whole 'chick car' thing. Real men might find needing to drive this car for the required Beetle Cups in some Gran Turismos totally emasculating. ;-/

Originally published: July 22, 2004
Re-edited for GT4 content: December 28, 2010
Edited for GT5 content: sometime in 2010 or 2011
Last GT5 Edit: December 2nd, 2012