The revival Volkswagen Beetle has been with us now since 1997, and I'm still conflicted about it. Is it a bona fide car worthy of garage space on its own merits? Or is it something for single ladies of a certain age seeking a ride to the fountain of youth? The market, at least, has decided: Unlike the 11th-generation T-bird, the Chevrolet HHR and Chrysler PT Cruiser, the Plymouth Prowler and other retro cars — many of which were horrible and none of which lasted — after 18 years the new Beetle is still being made and still selling relatively well. In fact, it has spawned a small swarm of different models ranging from basic to racy.
Although our everyday routines can be simple and second nature, there's only so much we can remember. And when it comes to cars and car maintenance, many Americans frequently forget routine tasks, according to the latest Gauge Index from Hankook Tire.
Stop me if you've heard this before, but German sedans, coupes and even sports utility vehicles from die grossen drei (M-B, Audi, Porsche) set the bar these days for luxury, performance and technology, and for sticker shock, too. VW, on the other hand, delivers German driving dynamics and automotive sophistication at prices that line up much more closely with mass-market vehicles from everywhere else. The GTI hot hatchback, for example, reviewed here two weeks ago, channels other, much more expensive, powerful and deluxe German cars.
The Volkswagen Passat sedan, now in its eighth generation of service, is passe.
Prototypes can be production promises not kept in the capital-intensive global automobile industry. A good idea, even one executed in pre-production metal, can be severely compromised or altogether altered in response to demands for lower production costs.