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Used Volkswagen Beetle review: 2000-2010

Being based on the Golf the Beetle suffers similar issues as its corporate cousin.

The new Beetle might look like the original 'People's Car' but in reality there's very little about the new car that can be traced back to the old model.


The engine is in the front of the new car, it is in the rear of the old one, the car's engine is water-cooled, the old one uses air for cooling, the new one is front-wheel drive, the old one is rear wheel drive. It goes on.

The point is that you shouldn't be swayed by the spin that suggested the new Beetle is the old one reborn. It isn't.

By all means buy it if you like the new car's cute looks, but be aware that what you are buying is a rather impractical Golf. When you boil it down the new Beetle is more a cute Golf than a new version of the old classic.

It was launched here in 2000 initially as a single model with a 2.0-litre 85 kW engine with a heap of standard features that moved it up the model chain.

Since then there has been a lower-spec 1.6-litre model, a turbo model, a diesel and a cabriolet. The 2.0-litre has decent torque giving it good response and driveability, the 1.6-litre is similar, the turbo offers the zing, while the diesel is the mileage buster.

With its Golf underpinnings the Beetle is sure-footed and responsive, its ride is firm but comfortable, while it steers nicely and brakes with assurance.

It is a thoroughly modern car with a retro look. Two doors necessarily limits a car's practicality when it comes to family use, getting in and out of the rear seats isn't something you want to do every day.

And the rear seats are a little cramped. The boot isn't very big either, which just adds to its day-to-day limitations. Buying a 'Bug' of the new sort really comes down to image. If you want to feel funky, buy it, if you have to drive the kids to school go for something more practical.


Being based on the Golf the Beetle suffers similar issues as its corporate cousin. The engines it used are sound and give little trouble, but take a look for oil leaks that might need addressing in the near term. Plastic engine fittings tend to get brittle and crumble over time.

When it comes to transmissions, the Beetle didn't use the troublesome DSG gearbox, which means there aren't the same concerns as with other models in the VW range. Nevertheless thoroughly test-drive the automatic transmission and ensure it shifts smoothly and without hesitation. Early Beetles are now up around the 150,000 km mark on average and that's getting into   auto trouble territory. 

Like all European cars the brakes tend to wear quite quickly, so be prepared to replace pads and discs regularly. Faulty electronics are a regular complaint on all cars today, which makes it worth checking every system in the car to ensure they're operating as they should.


Oldtime looks make it stand out from the crowd, but under the skin it's all modern, if a little impractical for some.

VW Beetle - 2000-2010

Price new: $36,790 to $39,990
Engines: 1.6-litre 4-cylinder, 75 kW/148 Nm; 2.0-litre 4-cylinder, 85kW/172Nm; 1.8-litre turbocharged 4-cylinder, 110kW/210Nm; 1.9-litre 4-cylinder turbo-diesel, 77kW/250Nm
Transmissions: 5-speed manual, 4-speed auto, 6-speed auto, FWD
Thirst: 8.2 L/100 km (1.6); 8.8 L/100 km (2.0), 8.2 L/100 km (1.8T); 5.5 L/100 km (TD)
Body: 2-door hatch, 2-door cabriolet
Variants: Base, Ikon, Miami, TDi, Turbo
Safety: 4-star ANCAP


Do you own a VW Golf GTi? If so tell us what you think of it by sending your comments to Graham Smith at or Carsguide, PO Box 4245, Sydney, NSW, 2010.


Year Price From Price To
2010 $5,170 $11,440
2009 $4,950 $8,800
2008 $4,510 $7,810
2007 $3,850 $6,820
2006 $3,190 $5,500
2005 $2,970 $8,800
2004 $2,970 $7,480
2003 $3,410 $7,260
2002 $3,410 $7,260
2001 $2,640 $7,150
2000 $2,640 $6,050

View all Volkswagen Beetle pricing and specifications

Pricing guides

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Range and Specs

2.0 2.0L, PULP, 4 SP AUTO $4,000 – 6,000 2000 Volkswagen Beetle 2000 2.0 Pricing and Specs
Sunshine 2.0L, PULP, 5 SP MAN $2,640 – 4,180 2000 Volkswagen Beetle 2000 Sunshine Pricing and Specs
Graham Smith
Contributing Journalist


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