Saturday, October 21, 2017


This was a few years ago when Volkswagen was bringing updated versions of its famed Beetle back to the U.S. that it cleverly labeled the New Beetle. (I wonder what kind of bonus the deep thinker who came up with that got for Christmas?)

I was to have a New Beetle Convertible for the week and was stumped by what was stuck on the dash.

It was a plastic cylindrical tube that seemed to serve no real purpose other than to distract me.

Was it a place to store coins for tolls? No, because it was too thin for anything but a dime, and even back then the toll collectors were demanding more than 10 cents a pop. Not to mention it would be tough to get even a dime out of it, let alone a quarter.

A champaign flute? Of course not. No way would an automaker include such a blatant promotion to drinking and driving among its options.

A finger bowl?

Of course, if you know the history of the original Bug, which I obviously didn’t, you are aware that the object that had me stumped was a bud vase. It was put back in when the Beetle was revived in 1998 as a nod to the 1950s and ‘60s models and their appeal to the “flower children” of that generation. I was never a “flower child” and missed out on that. (I wasn’t at Woodstock either.)

In my defense, the fleet manager had neglected to put a bud or any kind of flower into the New Beetle I was driving to give me a hint, so how was I to know?

VW dispensed with this particular option in the major redesign it gave the Beetle for 2012, because, the thinking went, the Bug had become too much of a “chick car” and the bud vase played a major part in promoting that image. (Hey. Don’t blame me for that phrasing. It’s what Adweek said when it reported that the vase had been scrapped.)

Apparently, that is no longer a concern with the VW image makers.

If I thought a bud vase was stretching the limit when it came to automotive cuteness and the VW Beetle, and I did, I was wrong.

Witness the latest version of the Bug, the 2017 #PinkBeetle.

Yes, it comes with a hashtag. Yes, pink is incorporated into the name. And yes, of course, it comes in a shade of pink — VW dubs it Fresh Fuchsia Metallic — that changes color depending on the lighting. At times, it can look red or raspberry, though in struck me as looking more like a huge purple grape as I walked up to it in the parking lot one evening last week.


No. #PinkBeetle.

The color scheme is carried over to the interior but not overly so. Doors and the dash get touches of the color., and pink stripes replace red ones in the plaid cloth seats,. The restraint makes it easier on the eyes.

Other than the color scheme and other design notes like the gloss black mirror caps and black side skirts with chrome accents, the #PinkBeetle is very much a regular Beetle. It has a 1.8-liter turbo 4-cylinder engine that produces 170 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque, and a shiftable, six-speed automatic transmission is standard. 

That combination provides enough oomph for a vehicle of this size (168.4 inches long with a wheelbase of 100, 71.2 inches wide, 58.5 inches tall and a little over 3,000 pounds) and results in fuel economy ratings of 24 miles-per-gallon city, 33 highway, and 28 combined, which, frankly, are somewhat disappointing for the class.

As is usually the case with smaller vehicles (the Smart ForTwo being an exception), it gives you a feeling of speed, agility and sharp handling that larger vehicles don’t provide even if they are faster, more agile, and sharper handling. Motor Trend reported a zero-to-60 mph clocking of 7.3 seconds for the #PinkBeetle in coupe form. (It also is available as a convertible.) For more in the way of response, you can shift into Sport mode. Alas, no manual transmission is offered.

The #PinkBeetle gives you a comfortable, fairly quiet ride on the highway, and its compact size makes it an ideal vehicle for crowded city environs. Obviously, you can squeeze into small parking spaces and still have room to open its doors without dinging a car next to it. But it’s big enough that it isn’t intimidating to be around SUVs or even semi trucks. The government gave it a five-star overall safety rating.

The #PinkBeetle comes with a nice list of standard equipment that includes 17-inch alloy wheels, a rear spoiler, rearview camera, keyless access with push-button start, an adjustable, flat-bottom, leather-trimmed steering wheel, heated front seats with manual lumbar support, manual climate control, eight-speaker sound system, satellite radio capability (three-month trial subscription included), Bi-Xenon headlights with LED daytime running lights, Bluetooth and USB connectivity, and VW’s Car-Net suite of features.

That’s all included in the starting MSRP of $22,710 (including destination and delivery), which is about $1,500 more than the standard Beetle’s price tag.

That’s if you can find one. The 2017 #PinkBeetle is a limited edition model that went on sale some time ago, and you won’t find it in the 2018 list. You will find a new “Coast” trim, however, and the Beetle Dune is a nice alternative with a distinctive, though less polarizing, look. But the Dune’s MSRP approaches $27,500 including the destination and delivery charge.

If you want to stand out from the crowd, the new Coast trim comes in an optional “Deep Sea Teal” color. Frankly, my impression of “Deep Sea Teal” is that it would make a great color scheme for a bathroom, but not so much on a car.

But, as they say, to each his own. Which explains the #PinkBeetle. The young lady in the drive-thru loved it.

What I liked about the 2017 Volkswagen #PinkBeetle: It’s a small thing, but I liked the double glove box for extra storage. I also liked the car’s handling. Like many small cars (with the exception mentioned about), it’s fun to drive. And the front seat is comfortable and roomy enough for two.

What I didn’t like about the 2017 Volkswagen #PinkBeetle: Fresh Fuchsia Metallic just doesn’t do it for me.

Would I buy the 2017 Volkswagen #PinkBeetle? Yes -- as a graduation gift for my daughter/granddaughter. It's not that I don’t like the Beetle, because I do. But I can’t get away from that color.

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