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Beetle Envy

September 23, 2011 - Phyllis Sigal
"Phyllis, the moment you've been waiting for is here, so schedule a test drive of the all-new Beetle."

I got that email yesterday. However, I beat it to the punch: I test drove the all-new Beetle three days ago!

I've been thinking about a new car for some time, now.

I had been leaning toward a Mini-Cooper Clubman, but I just couldn't decide on the color. Actually, I knew i wanted a shade of blue, but I wasn't crazy about any of the Mini blues offered. I had test driven the Clubman a couple of times, and liked it, but just could never commit.

Besides, my 1999 New Beetle wasn't finished with me yet. And, it's only got around 70,000 miles on it, new brakes and a new alternator.

But then I heard there was a redesigned Beetle coming to town. Now, I'd have to wait to see it before making any decision. When Oprah gave everyone in her audience a key to the redesigned Beetle last year, all we saw was the silhouette of the newest incarnation. It appeared sleeker than the New Beetle of 1998. Then I saw the Volkswagen Beetle advertisement last year on the Super Bowl. A little black beetle running through the woods gave us another taste of what was to come.

Oh, VW, you're such a tease.

Finally, In April, it made its debut, and we saw actual photos of this new little car.

Nice. It is lower, wider and longer. It has more of a Porsche look about it. It was designed to resemble the original Beetle.

Lately, a friend at work has been dropping off various car magazines that have included stories on the Beetle. Car writers have been driving and reviewing (mostly favorably) the 2012 Beetle.

And, then, earlier this week, it arrived in Wheeling and I got to drive it.

I LOVE it.

I was hoping I would — so that I wouldn't have to go back to the drawing board to figure out what would replace my '99.

I'll leave the actual driving and technical reviews to the experts; I don't really need to know what's under the hood and why, but I can talk about the fun bells and whistles — those things that matter to me. ...

Like the three-color ambient lighting, for example. My car salesman knows me pretty well; he knew I'd light up when he told me about that.

There's an adorable extra glove box, which is supposed to replicate the older Beetles, from back in the 1960s. It's called a "Kaeferfach" glove box, heritage-inspired. A bigger glove box sits just below the little one.

In some models, there's a push-button starter. And you don't even really need the key to lock the thing; you just press on the door handle a certain way, and voila, it's locked! It won't lock, however, if the key is somewhere inside the car. Good thinking.

The trunk is bigger. I can throw my yoga mat, bolster, blanket, blocks and more back there!

The cup holders will actually accommodate my new, favorite tie-dye design Seven Springs coffee cup I purchased recently. I may have to retire The Times Leader cup I use every day — it's the only one I have that fits in the 1999 model's cup holders.

The radio has a touch screen. Ooooooooooh.

There's a blue-tooth hands-free calling system. In other words, I can tell my steering wheel to phone home, and it will. Aaaaaaaaah!

The dashboard and interior trim matches the body color. I like that. But, what I really like is that it comes in a good blue. Denim blue. Non-metallic. I've been told "it's me."

A MIni-Cooper? What was I thinking.

I've only owned Volkswagens my entire car-owning life.

We had a 1972 robin's egg blue Beetle back in the '80s.

My first new car of my very own was a gray 1985 Jetta, with a sporty, red pinstripe down the side.

My second car was a 1994 red Jetta, which unfortunately was tinged with lemon. The good news — the great folks at the Wheeling VW dealership traded me that car for a 1995 red Jetta, which was identical, with the exception of an added sunroof (whoo-hooo!) and it ran, all the time!

And, then the 1999 dark blue New Beetle came into my life on Dec. 8, 1998. That little car has been a faithful and mostly reliable companion for almost 13 years. (Knock on wood.)

Yea, I'm definitely a VW girl.

I have about a dozen miniature Beetles sitting on a shelf in my office. What was I supposed to do with those had I gone the Mini route? (My little friend Emma would have a suggestion. She plays with them every time her mom, Betsy Bethel, brings her to the office.)

Now that I've finally decided, I have to be patient, though. VW won't start producing the manual transmission version of my dream car until mid-October. Automatic transmission versions, in limited supply, will be available a bit sooner.

So in the meantime, I'll keep driving my 1999, getting it ready for its new home, wherever that may be.

 
 

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