It was probably just a flashback, a sound out of my memory and imagination, but while driving a Volkswagen Beetle Convertible last week, when creeping slowly or stopped at a light so that wind noise and tire chatter didn’t enter through the fabric roof, I thought I heard faint hints of the old, familiar engine clatter, the merry tip-tapping and the whirring, staccato clicks that classic Volkswagen bugs of the 1960s and ‘70s emitted.
But that couldn’t be right, because the noise I thought I heard came from the front, where the engine resides in today’s thoroughly contemporary, front-wheel-drive Volkswagen Beetle. In the classic versions from decades ago, the suitcase-size engine was in the rear, turning the rear wheels.
Besides, today’s model is only made to look like the ancestral bug. Volkswagen brought out the New Beetle in 1998 as a retro cruiser meant to recapture the playful spirit people associated with the company’s first car. What’s more, our current version of the Beetle (the “New” in its name was dropped), aims to stand even farther apart from the original.
Introduced in September 2011, the current-generation, 2013 Beetle is expanding the model’s allure beyond nostalgia buffs who went for the first New Beetle, explained Charles Daher Jr., manager at Commonwealth Motors, Lawrence, which sells Chevrolet, Honda, Kia, Nissan and Volkswagen vehicles.
The Beetle Convertible is a new addition. It joined the two-door hard-top version late last year as a 2013 model. Both renditions of today’s Beetle are less bubble-shaped and more streamlined, and they offer more get-up-and-go.
“The new body style is sportier, and it has a turbo available, which makes it a really, really fun car to drive,” said Daher. “The old one had nostalgia, but people who weren’t part of the whole Beetle craze weren’t interested in it. Now it has transitioned into a regular vehicle. Now it’s hitting a new, younger age bracket.”