After three-quarters of a year, my Beetle is even harder to understand than before.
I’ve owned my Beetle for about 8 months now and something has always felt off. It took me a long time to sort it out but finally it came to me.
It’s too nice.
The seats are too comfortable. The quality of interior materials is too high. The wheels are too big and there shouldn’t be a leather steering wheel with radio controls or a motorized sunroof.
It shouldn’t be so stable on the highway or have a Fender-branded sound system. It shouldn’t be able to automatically change the language on the display based on what key is in your pocket. It shouldn’t be able to start with the key in your pocket at all!
It’s a surprisingly nice thing and it shouldn’t be. That’s not what the Beetle (as a concept) should be.
The Beetle should be a cheap car for every person.
Fighting In The Wrong Weight Class
The Beetle should be for people who can’t afford a Golf yet. It should be made of plastic, tin foil and hope. It should compete for title of Canada’s cheapest car. They should be zipping around with 18-year-olds at the wheel, with no rearward visibility because it’s packed to the roof with junk.
Instead, it’s retro-styled nonsense that tries to be nice enough to sit in the driveway next to your husband’s BMW. Not to be prejudicial, but I’ve noticed plenty of other Beetles on the road since getting mine and, almost always, the driver is a middle-aged women. (Except for that one other guy who owns the dark grey one I often see in my neighbourhood. Respect.)
At least with the Beetle’s main competitor, the MINI, you get a nice mix of middle-aged women, young couples, and young men. A MINI the Beetle is not. The Beetle drives great as an everyday car, but it’s not so much more comfortable than the MINI that it’s worth the trade-off in handling and general fun. If anything, the Beetle should be more comfortable. No one is racing between the lights in this thing.
Of course, I didn’t get the Beetle because of the driving characteristics or the associated demographic. I don’t drive like a young hooligan
anymore ever, nor do I identify with middle-aged married women with 1.5 children.
I got the Beetle because it was interesting in a way so many cars aren’t.
Eating Spaghetti in a White Shirt
I got it for less than half the $30k+ sticker price and it felt like a brand new car. At the time I thought, “What a deal!” but now I think, “I should have gotten something a little less nice.”
I don’t know why, but there was a freedom in driving my Volvo, which had some serious years and miles on it. That is, when the engine started. There’s not much freedom when you own a car that doesn’t start. There’s gotta be a happy middle ground where the car is junky enough that you don’t feel the need to keep it in tip-top shape, but new enough that it works all the time. Something a baby or a teenager can vomit in without anyone caring too much. A cheap Beetle would fit that bill.
Luckily, someone understood my plight and drove into the back of my Beetle.
This light damage will cost almost $1,200 to fix. $1,200! Just to replace the bumper! That’s too much for any car, let alone a simple Beetle.
As I said, this car is too damn nice.
One Year or More
I like the idea of getting a different car each year. It might be more expensive than driving a car into the ground, but for someone like me who only has a car because he likes cars, it’s can be worth the extra expense.
I thought about this last year when I was shopping. I went used in the end because it helped me keep the option of getting a different car this year without losing too much on depreciation. So many cars to own, only one parking space.
I haven’t decided if I’ll keep the Beetle into next year or sell her in the fall and find something a bit more balding-husband and a little less chatty-wife.
The original owner of my car traded it in for a MINI after only three years. Having owned a MINI years ago, I very much understand why someone would make that switch.
It really comes back to this: I haven’t fallen for the Beetle yet. She’s a great ride and surprisingly adept at swallowing a large bike given her small size, but I’m not sure I feel the way I want to feel when I’m inside of her.
Summer is almost here and that means road trips. I figure if another 5,000 kms goes by and I feel the same way, the car is not for me. On the other hand, it could be the summer of a lifetime that makes me fall so deep for this thing that I’ll never give it up.
Regardless of what I do, these cars aren’t that popular. And I can’t help but think they’d sell much better if they weren’t as nice.