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Volkswagen adds a turbo to the beetle lineup for 2000 that should make this car an even bigger hit. This is the type of car you either love or hate. I am not a fan of the styling, which makes me believe that I will probably not like the package in a couple of years. With the sale of last years beetle topping out at nearly 80,000 units, and the addition of an enhanced power train, that number is sure to grow as these cars begin another movement from the dealer's lot to the open road. As stated above, I am not crazy about the design so this little bubble on wheels had to win me over. The only thing that excited me about the task at hand was the 1st time factor and the new optional engine.

The exterior is well, the outside, unique and different. The interior is where this car started to gain my interest. The gauges use the same style lettering as the old beetles, and this little bit of nostalgia pleased me. The dash center button controls also reminded me of the bug of old with the placement of the triangle hazard switch. The seats are large and very comfortable, firm but still soft. There is ample head and legroom in the front, but the rear is as expected, a little tight. The shifter is comfortably close below a shared armrest between the front seats. The shifter console is designed with two conveniently located cup holders and a change tray. The dash is smooth and flows down to the floor that provides a good central location of the radio and air vents. The half circle over the speedometer is an attractive styling feature that sets this dash off. The rear seats fold forward to provide a large cargo space accessible through the new for 2000 hatchback.

Standard power comes from a 2.0 liter rated at 115 bhp and 120 lb-ft of torque. This engine is constructed from an iron block and aluminum head. There are two optional engines offered, the first is my favorite, a 1.8-liter Turbocharged in-line 4 cylinder. Like the base engine it too is constructed from an iron block with an aluminum head, but features dual overhead cams and 5 valves per cylinder. The head uses 3 valves for the intake side and two for exhaust. The addition of an intercooloed turbocharger more than makes up for the lost .2 liters of displacement with an impressive output of 150 bhp and 156 lb-ft of torque. The third optional engine is a 1.9-liter turbocharged diesel rated at 90 bhp and 155 lb-ft of torque. Why a diesel, how about 42 mpg in the city and 49 on the highway. Don't forget the diesel has plenty of torque that should give it more than adequate power although I did not drive one.

The front-end suspension fully independent with lower L arms attached to MacPherson struts. The rear is a somewhat disappointing setup, the dreaded solid beam axle, I would prefer a fully independent rear setup but that would add to the price. This should be included on the Turbo models GLS and GLX but sadly is not. The addition of this would possibly push this car into the sports car category. The beetle stops well with four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes, the pedal is firm with little to no fade.

The biggest surprise to me with the beetle is its weight, 3000 lbs. This car is heaver than it looks although I don't know where all the weight comes from. Look for further performance gains to come from some weight shedding, preferably about 400 lbs that will make it quicker, stop shorter and better gas mileage. Overall the Beetle did win me over although I would not buy one because I need something more practical. This car is a fun car with a lot of spirit that will command attention wherever you go. To add a little spunk to the spirit, opt for the 1.8 turbo and put an even bigger grin on your face.

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