Forget any notion about a diesel fueled passenger vehicle being loud and loose with black smoke from the tailpipe. Those labels describe bygone days. And in a time when gasoline prices have more peaks and valleys than a rollercoaster, how refreshing to drive a car that can claim mile per gallon numbers well past the mid-30s. The 2005 VW Beetle is offered with three engine choices, including the 1.9-liter TDI turbocharged direct ignition diesel engine that hits 100 horsepower at 4000 rpm and 177 pounds-feet of peak torque in the 1800 to 2400 rpm range. The diesel engine mates to either a 5-speed manual transmission or a 6-speed automatic with a Direct Shift Gearbox, featuring a twin-clutch design that eliminates power transfer loss during gear changes. The 4-cylinder diesel engine, when mated to the automatic transmission easily, hits fuel economy numbers of 36 city and 42 highway.

VW Beetle packs an amazing amount of space – 81 cubic feet in total with 12 cubic feet available with rear seat upright and 27 cubic feet with rear seat folded. The GLS version of the ‘bug’ packs all sorts of standard equipment, including cruise control, air conditioning, 16-inch alloy wheels, anti-lock brakes, seatback map pockets, front foglights, power-heated outside mirrors, rear reading lights, and dual front vanity mirrors. The front wheel drive Beetle’s interior design, however, offers up a minor irritation via the placement of the dual cupholders to the front of the gear shifter. A problem occurs when placing a tall beverage, like a 24-ounce coffee, in the cupholder. The cup blocks direct access to the bottom of the center dash – namely the rear defrost control panel. Nevertheless, the New Beetle remains a very impressive car. MSRP of the New Beetle GLS with turbocharger diesel engine is $20,010.