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2001Volkswagen Beetle GLX Turbo

By CharlesOfria

Category: $15,000 - $25,000 Whimsical Coupe 
Who should buy this car: A fun-loving person who wouldn't mind driving a happy face.   
Comparable models in this class: Not much... If we stretch the category to include hi-style coupes in the same price range then we might include the Mitsubishi Eclipse & Toyota Celica
Car enthusiasts considerVolkswagen to be one of the top manufacturers ofcompetent automobiles in the low to mid price range.  

Inside, I found the driving position to be ideal.  The steering wheel hada nice grip to it and was manually adjustable for both height and reach with asingle lever.  There were buttons for cruise control, radio volume andstation select on the wheel that illuminated at night. There was a small buttonon the back of the steering wheel that turned the steering wheel lighting off ifyou found it distracting.  A nice touch.

The speedometer and tach were fairly readable, but I foundthe dials for temperature and fuel level to be downright tiny.  They werehard to see at a glance due to the grayishnumbers and dark red needles on a black background.  They were somewhat betterwhen the lights were turned on, even in thedaytime.  Nighttime dash illumination was quite interesting with a kaleidoscopeof blue and red light extending across the panel and into the doors. Numbers and LCDdisplays were in blue, while buttons and labels were red.  Over the weekthat I had the car, I grew to like the effect and found it easy on theeyes during extended nighttime driving.

Genuine wood trim adorned the dash of our top-of-the-line GLX model andalso comes standard with the lessexpensive GLS equipped with the V6.  The wood theme carriedover to a slick shifter handle for the 5-speed automatic transmission.

The seats were comfortable, even on long, stressful rush-hour drives.  The console and lowerdash panels were molded of colored, grained plastic (a compromiseneeded to keep prices in line), but they blended so well with the rest of the interior that they did notdetract from its quality.  Rear seat legroom was downright extravagant for a mid-sized sedanwith plenty of comfort for two and room for three; but while the center positionwas tolerable,you would not want to ride there on a long trip.

Out on the road, I found the steering sharp and responsive, inspiringconfidence.  Directional stability on the highway was dead-onaccurate.  The ride was definitely European which gave it a substantial,solid feel, that was in no way uncomfortable. I appreciate a European ride thatkeeps me "in touch" with the road by allowing me to feel some pavementirregularities, rather than floating over everything likesome softer-riding cars in this class.

With 190 hp ontap, engine performance was not lively, but acceptable. The engine was reasonably quiet during most normal driving and emitteda muted growl when accelerating at full throttle.  When pushed hard, there was not a hint of torque-steerwhich is common on other front-wheel drive cars with powerful engines.  Torque-steerresults when a front-wheel drive car triesto seek its own direction during hard acceleration, causing the steering wheel totug left or right.  Because the power is applied to the same wheels usedfor steering, this is a tough engineering challenge to overcome and stillmaintain good steering feel.

The"V6 30V" on top of the engine stands for a V6 with 30 valves. That means 5 valves per cylinder,  a layout formerly found only on GrandPrix race cars.  Other features of this 2.8 liter V6 include dual overhead cams, variable intake valve timing and a variable geometry composite intake manifold. Youcan forget the technical mumbo-jumbo and still enjoy the end result: an engine that delivers strong, smooth acceleration over a wideRPM range without compromising on good gas mileage.

On our test car, all this smooth power is delivered through an equally smooth five-speedautomatic transmission with Tiptronic that powers the front wheels. Tiptronic allowsyou to override the automatic and shift manually by sliding the shifter into aspecial gate, then pushing it forward to upshift and back to downshift. TheAutomatic is one of the two major options for the GLX, replacing the standard5-speed stick at a cost of $1,075.  The other option is the 4MOTION All-Wheel-Drivesystem which adds $1,750 to the sticker.

The standard engine for the less expensive GLS is a 1.8 liter four-cylinderthat is turbocharged and intercooled to produce 170 horsepower at 5,900 rpmas well as 166 lbs. ft. of torque from 1,950 to 5,000 rpm.  The base GLSstarts at a very reasonable $21,750. The GLS V6 starts at $ 24,250

Our top-of-the-line GLX had lots of interesting stuff to play with, likerain-sensing windshield wipers that watched forraindrops on the glass and automatically activated the wipers when needed foranything from a single pass to full-onhigh, depending on how hard it was raining. For cold days, there were heatedwindshield washer nozzles that could quickly clear frost from thewindshield.

Other standard features on the GLX include:  leather upholstery;heated eight-way power frontseats with 3 memory positions for the driver; an eight-speaker Monsoon sound system; a fully automaticclimate control system; a multifunction, two-program trip computer; split-folding rear seat; a power glasssunroof; newly styled 16 alloy wheels;a pull-up sun shade for the rear window and a self-dimming rearview mirror. 

New this year, Side Curtain Air-bags add head protection for the front andrear passengers on all Passat models. Driver and front passenger side airbagsare also standard across the board.  There are three height-adjustable headrestraints for the rear seat passengers as well as three-point seat belts forall.

It may be a nightmare for repair shop owners, but Passat customers will sleepeasy with the excellent powertrain warranty which covers repairs to the engine andtransmission for ten years or 100,000 miles. And because the Passat body is now fully galvanized, the corrosion warranty is a full 12 years with no mileage restrictions. You also don't have to pay for maintenance or roadside assistance for the firsttwo years. The only downside is that the bumper-to-bumper warranty on the restof the car is a low 24 months or 24,000 miles.

Dateline 7.2.2001: Volkswagen just announced that they are changingtheir warrantee for the 2002 model year.  The new plan will increase the bumper-to-bumper warranteeto four-years/50,000 miles (whichever occurs first) and reduce the power traincoverage to five years or 60,000 miles.  The old 10 year/100,000 mile planwas not transferable when you sell the car (except for a sale to a familymember) but the new 5/60 plan will be fully transferable.  The roadsideassistance program also increases to four-years/50,000 miles while the corrosion warrantyremains at the industry-leading 12 years/unlimited mileage.

The $28,750 Passat GLX is Volkswagen'sattempt at knocking on the near-luxury segment door, but they won't be stoppingthere.  Expect to see a Passat with a new W8 engine in the near future thatwill sticker near$40,000.  A little further down the road there are rumors of a full luxury boat with a W12engine and a price-tag that places it up against the big Mercedes and BMW's.  What's a 'W8' engine youask?  It's two narrow V4's connected to a common crank so that in effect youhave 4 banks of 2 cylinders (or 4 banks of 3 cylinders for the W12).  I'llbring you more info as I get it.

Yes, Volkswagen has come a longway from the multi-hued beetles of the Flower-Power generation that proliferated oncollege campuses back in the '70s.

Hmmm... I wonder how many students you can squeeze into a Passat?
 PeaceMan.

Your Comments

Do you have anyfeedback on the Passat?  Any opinions or experiences of yourown?  We would love to hear from you.  Send your comments to: Passat@carparts.com

Clickhere for more pictures of the Beetle

How would I improve this car?

  • Larger fuel and temperature gauges would be nice
  • Add automatic headlights.  I'm surprised that they weren't included in this package. 
  • Add another 20 HP and I may buy one. This is my kind of car.

How does the Passat fit yourdriving style? 

Conservative drivers This is a good riding car that gives you the feeling of being connected with the road.  This is a difficult combination to achieve and inspires confidence.

Sporty drivers will enjoy the European feel and smooth power delivery that does not compromise the comfortable ride. You'll also enjoy shifting the 5-speed automatic for yourself when the mood strikes.

Fast drivers will run out of tire grip early on.  Aftermarket 17" wheels and fatter rubber will help, but at the expense of the ride.

Specifications 

2001 Volkswagen Beetle GLX Turbo

Engine Type  1.8-liter 4 Cyl. with cast iron block & cast aluminum head, Double overhead camshaft, spur belt driven, five valves per cylinder, turbocharged
Horsepower 150 @ 5800 RPM
Torque 162 @ 2200-4200 RPM
Fuel Recommended Premium 91 Octane Unleaded. 
Transmission (Std.)
Transmission (Opt.)
5-Speed Manual
Electronically controlled 4-speed Automatic
Drive Layout Transverse Engine, Front Wheel Drive
Tires  P205/55 R 16H all-season, steel-belted radials 
Overall Length 161.1"
Wheelbase 98.7"
Width 67.9"
Turning Diameter 32.8 ft Curb to Curb
Curb Weight 2,964  - 3,008  lbs.
Fuel Tank 14.5 Gals.
Miles Per Gallon (5-speed)
Miles Per Gallon (Auto.)
EPA  city 24 mpg, hwy 31 mpg
EPA  city 23 mpg, hwy 29 mpg 
Acceleration 0 to 60 9.0 Seconds (w. Automatic)
Base Sticker Price  $21,175 plus  $550 Destination charge
Standard Equipment
  • 4 wheel disc brakes 
  • Anti-lock Braking System (ABS)
  • Front side-mounted airbags
  • Remote vehicle anti-theft system
  • Height adjustable driver seat
  • Remote power door locks
  • Leather Interior
  • Speed Activated Rear Spoiler
  • Electronic Differential Lock (EDL)
  • Anti-Slip Regulation (ASR)
  • Side Power Mirrors, Heated
  • Premium AM/FM Cassette Stereo  with 6 speakers
  • Heated Front Seats and Heated Washer Nozzles
  • CFC-Free Air Conditioning with Pollen Filter
  • Power Windows with One-Touch Up and Down
  • Moonroof

Major Available Options

  • Automatic Transmission
  • High Intensity Discharge - Headlights, with auto leveling
  • 255/45 R 17, all-season tires
  • 6-disc CD-changer, trunk mounted (dealer-installed)

For more information on the Beetle, visit vw.com

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