How safe is a VW New Beetle?

Is a Volkswagen New Beetle average or better in safety? Is the convertible significantly less safe than the hardtop?

J. Smith, Conover, N.C.

Since we personally don’t crash test cars — which is unfortunate, because I have an unused helmet I’ve been itching to use — we rely on organizations like the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for safety ratings.

When available, we tend to prefer IIHS safety ratings because the way it tests vehicles — compared to NHTSA — more closely simulates what would happen between a collision of two vehicles. Results from the two organizations cannot be compared with one another. (See here for more info on the two testing procedures). For the Volkswagen New Beetle, its frontal ratings are about average for the compact segment, but its side-impact ratings are less than stellar in IIHS tests.

IIHS uses Good, Acceptable, Marginal and Poor to rate vehicles and specific test areas, like torso protection. In IIHS frontal collision tests, the Beetle scored a rating of Good, but in side-impact tests it was rated Poor overall, with IIHS specifically rating protection of the torso and pelvis/leg areas as Poor; the Beetle has standard side-impact airbags.

The Beetle’s main competitor, the Mini Cooper — which also has standard side-impact airbags — scored Good in frontal collision tests but trumps the Beetle’s side-impact tests; it scored Acceptable overall, with torso and pelvis/leg protection rated as Marginal.

Of the two organizations, only NHTSA has tested the convertible New Beetle. The convertible tested just as good as the hardtop in frontal crash tests — getting four out of five stars — but side-impact tests haven’t been completed by NHTSA on the convertible as of now.

When available, you can find safety ratings from both organizations on each vehicle’s Cars.com research page: 2007 Mini Cooper, 2007 Volkswagen New Beetle. Simply click “Safety Ratings and Recalls” in the left rail, which shares space with J.D. Power ratings, photos, etc.

Learn more

Answered by Joe Bruzek on August 30, 2007 in How Safe is This Car? | Permalink

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