In 1998, VW introduced the New Beetle, a modern adaptation of one of the most iconic vehicles ever built. Between the various incarnations—the first of which was produced in 1938—more than 20 million Beetles have been sold worldwide, making it the most prevalent car design of all time. This 2003 Volkswagen New Beetle Coupe GLS is a variation on the Beetle theme—a small diesel-powered car offering superlative fuel efficiency.
Volkswagen is the diesel-leader on today’s U.S. market, and in fact, prototyped a diesel version of the Beetle more than 50 years ago. But the vast majority of New Beetles sold in the United States run on gasoline. We find the fuel economy disappointing compared to other cars of its size. The 2.0-liter, gas-fueled model gets a paltry combined mileage of just 24 mpg. However, this 2003 Beetle TDI actually beats many hybrids in overall fuel economy.
Thanks to its 1.9-liter turbocharged diesel engine and five-speed manual transmission, the Beetle TDI gets an EPA estimated 38 mpg combined—that’s 35 mpg in the city and 44 mpg on the highway. The car is in good condition. Although it has already cranked through 207,449 miles, the sturdy design of diesel engines are known for an ability to run for hundreds of thousands of miles. This car also sports a power moonroof, alloy wheels, fog lights, power heated exterior mirrors, leather seats, and heated seats in front.
Something green drivers should consider: Even if diesels come close to hybrids in fuel economy, they aren’t nearly as clean on emissions, especially particulate matter. That’s especially true for models that came before the introduction of “clean diesel” in 2009, when oil-burners started carrying more advanced emissions scrubbers and filters.
But if you’re looking for a car with fun styling and superior fuel economy, then this 2003 Beetle TDI could be your ride. We don’t see many models that offer hybrid-like fuel economy at such a compelling price.
For more information about fuel efficient diesel cars, visit eBay’s Green Driving Center.