27 Feb 2013

Living with - Volkswagen Beetle Turbo

The car - 2012 VW Beetle Turbo
Owner - Susie DeLeo

Living With Herbie: A Tale of a Woman Turned Child in her 2012 Beetle Turbo

I would imagine the best place to start would be to provide you with my (short) list of vehicles that I've driven over my time as a "licensed driver". To begin, would be my Grandparents vehicles, which were borrowed when necessary during high school. My main driver was a 1992 Pontiac Sunbird Convertable, accompanied by (if I was a good girl and kept my grades up) my Grandpa's 1996 Cadillac Sedan Deville, complete with 275 HP Northstar V8 engine - which at that time, was..... WOW! So yes, I had a spoiled teenage life. The Cadillac definitely set my image on what a car should be.

I moved out rather young, got married and at 19 got a mode of transportation that fit my budget, a 1999 Hyundai Accent. OK, gotta start somewhere, right? I then graduated to a 2005 Chevrolet Malibu.   Still missing something... Next up was my first Volkswagen. A 2007 Passat Wagon (kid on the way, large dog, perfect fit for a growing family). THIS solidified my love for Volkswagen, but a wagon? SO not me! From there I moved to a 2010 Touareg V6 - ahhh, an SUV, this should fit! Nope... I liked it, don't get me wrong, but I didn't connect with it.

Then I found out that the Beetle was getting a makeover.

Time for a brief history lesson:

The history of the automobile begins in 1769 when steam-engined automobiles were... haha... just kidding. Ok to the Volkswagen Beetle which debuted in 1938. Dr. Ferdinand Porsche originally designed the Beetle but, as we all know, Hitler liked Porsche's design, and funded his idea to be mass-produced for the public. Since then, the Beetle is the longest-running and most manufactured car of a single design platform - worldwide.

In 1963, Disney featured the Beetle as Herbie the Love Bug, which had a mind of it's own, and was capable of driving himself in racing competetions.

In 1998, the Beetle received it's first MAJOR redesign, moving the engine to the front, as well as front wheel drive for the first time on a Beetle. This design, let's face it, with all it's "Bubblyness" (I just made that word up for lack of a better term) failed to compare to the original nostaglia of The Beetle. Too girly. It even came with a flower vase! And, let's not forget the Special Edition Malibu Barbie New Beetle in 2009.

OK Volkswagen, time to step it up a bit! Welcome 2011! With the NEW redesign complete and production set for the 2012 model year.

Hmmmm... I like the new look, but, I have to be honest, hate (yes, strong word, hate) the 2.5, 5 cylinder engine that is provided on the North American models of past. Then news hit that it will be available in the 2.0T engine from the Golf GTI!!!! WOW! Seriously? Can the Beetle be, do I dare say it, cool? Again? SOLD! Sight unseen and no test drive, but my faith in Volkswagen maintained and I placed my factory order (factory orders are neccesary in North America if you want a manual transmission) on what was to become my most loved vehicle to date. Specs: Candy White exterior, Black leather interior, 18" Alloys, Panorama Sunroof, Navigation, Fender Sound System and of course, 6 spd manual transmission.

Fast forward to 4 months later

My 2012 Beetle Turbo arrived, and much to my surprise, was the VERY FIRST Turbo model in ALL OF CANADA! Wow, BIG DEAL! Volkswagen came out, took pictures, it was a fabuous day!

First Drive

LOVED IT! Seats: Awesome! Fender Sound System: 8 Speakers plus subwoofer filled the small cabin with fabulous Bob Seger harmony! Roll Me Away Baby! Not only was the handling superior to my  memories of Grandpa's Caddy, but it was Volkswagen through and through! The 200hp, 207 lbs of torque turbo-charged 4 cylinder engine was much quicker than Grandpa's Caddy, which was 0-60 mph in 8.0 secs. While my Beetle is recorded my MotorTrend Magazine (in Automatic) to do 0-60 in 6.3 seconds; although I swear my manual has done it in under 6, but if it's not, who cares, close enough! It was my Passat all over, but... FUN! It actually "fit" me. The looks from passing motorists were like I was driving a Bugatti - NO ONE had ever seen one before! I instantly became a child again and decided; OK, this car is fun - how can I make it more fun? I wanted more people to smile at my car. I didn't care if they were laughing AT me, or WITH me, I was happy to see it brought a smile to their face! So I started looking for ways to keep the smiles going. Then, one of my Volkswagen Service Technicians made a suggestion: Herbie.

WOW! OK! Done! I had the Herbie decals applied and NOW my car is complete! Not only is it fun to drive, bringing a constant smile to my face, but it brings smiles to everyone elses face as well!

Now to touch briefly on storage ability

The Beetles of old were known for getting driver +7 to the beach with surf boards strapped to the roof. Then the 1998 models were known for the ability to fit your laptop bag only in the trunk. My greatest accomplishment to date (with one rear seat folded down): One gas lawn mower, one electric weed wacker, a rake, 5 brown lawn waste bags(folded), 50' extension cord, one child IN FULL carseat and one husband. Let's not forget there's a subwoofer back there too!


I get approached by total strangers in parking lots, smiling, to tell me about their first Volkswagen (usually a Beetle) and how my car brought a smile to their face, or brightened their day. People see Herbie - and smile. He brings back childhood memories long forgotten between running kids to and from gymnastics. Or running off to work meetings. Or, in many cases, people who have had to give up their Beetle for a vehicle which fits a wheelchair for their aging mother or father - but they HAD to stop me to say "Thanks for the smile."