It didn’t take long for the 2013 Volkswagen Beetle Turbo Convertible to get noticed here in L.A. It is red, after all.
The first woman came by during her morning walk through the neighborhood and offered to give it a good home, as she remembered driving a Bug back in 1966 on Long Island. (She is a girl of a certain age, as they say.) The woman in charge of valet parking at the very snappy Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Las Vegas liked it, because it reminded her of the $500 VW Beetle that her father gave her as a teenager in the 1990s, which she always drove as if she were late to class. A woman just back from dropping off the no. 2 child at college (one more to go) came by with her husband because she reckons it’s time to finally get out from under her Chevy Suburban and drive a car that’s just about her, not the kids. Another woman said that it reminded her of the orange Volkswagen Beetle that she always wanted in her driveway for her sixteenth birthday long, long ago, and then she remembered how she wept when it didn’t appear.
This is good news to me, because I think it’s okay that women like the Beetle. In fact, it’s important that women like this car. I worry that the bright sparks at Volkswagen in Germany might not appreciate that women in the U.S. are a powerful economic force and have bought a lot of Beetles of all generations. I worry about this because those self-same bright sparks seem to have made a big deal about making the Volkswagen Beetle more masculine and less cute. From my perspective, this makes me think that they are embarrassed that women like the Beetle. Maybe this is why the roofline is low, like a chopped-top hot-rod beetle of the 1960s. Maybe this is why the flower vase is gone. Maybe this is why the car has swollen in size to something larger than a PT Cruiser, yet there’s not much room inside. Maybe this is why it’s not easy to see out.
It might seem smart to make the Beetle more masculine, yet my own little anecdotal count of Beetle freeway drivers doesn’t persuade me that the revised Beetle seems to have found a more masculine audience. Moreover, I remember a woman who told me that all she wanted was a New Beetle Convertible in light blue, because it was small and special – something that could be her very own car. And the revised Beetle doesn’t seem to meet her standard at all.
I worry that the Beetle might be repeating the experience of the Audi TT, a car also once wildly popular among women in L.A. and then carefully revised into something that more closely resembled a German product planner’s idea of a proper sports car for men. Seen an Audi TT in L.A. lately? Not us. Women don’t seem to be driving them, and apparently neither are men. As so often happens, careful planning has transformed an artistic success into a commercial failure.
Once you drive the 2013 Volkswagen Beetle to Los Angeles from Detroit, then make a run to Phoenix and back, and finally go to Las Vegas twice, the miles start to add up. The odometer read 21,531 miles, so we took the car to Timmons Volkswagen of Long Beach for the car’s 20,000-mile service.
The Beetle got four quarts of Castrol 5W40 synthetic oil, a new oil filer, a new dust-pollen cabin air filter, and the tire pressure was set to 31 psi. It had been washed. No charge, since all had been performed under VW’s warranty. We also ordered a replacement front bumper cover for the tow hook, which had finally set itself free after threatening to leave us for some time.
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