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Still in love with the Beetle

First love never dies: The 2017 VW Beetle Club Edition and Herbie from The Love Bug (right)

Blame it on a childhood of watching the movie The Love Bug. The movie was first shown in 1969, when I was around nine years old.  It was one of the first movies I watched on the big screen, and thus started my love affair for fast cars and Herbie, the VW Beetle star of the movie.

In this Disney film, Herbie is a lovable Volkswagen. The story goes that Herbie was abused by his first owner, a bad racecar driver. He gets rescued by Jim (Dean Jones) and because he is grateful for the rescue, Herbie enables the luckless Jim to win one race after another. Of course, no story is without its twists and turns — and this one is no different. The fun begins when the ruthless former owner does all he can to get Herbie back.

Fast forward to May 2017.

It’s in the details: The new cockpit of the VW Beetle Club has high-tech controls with a classic compartment — just perfect.

When I was recently offered a chance to test-drive the 2017 VW Beetle Club Edition, it was with bated breath that I patiently waited for my turn at the wheel. First car love never dies — and my love affair with the Beetle has spanned my over 50 years in the world. 

Back to the Future

I have to say that it’s always a joy to see and get into the cockpit of the Beetle. This Beetle Club Edition was no different. As soon as I enter, I notice the glove compartment, as it remains faithful in design to the Beetles of old. Yes, I know, there is a second glove compartment, which is bigger and can hold all those important papers — but seeing that old compartment look brought a smile to my face. 

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Of course, the 2017 Volkswagen Beetle Club Edition is stylish as always, but also very functional and easy to drive.  

The changes like the leather upholstery, touch-screen multimedia radio with navigation and mirror link, front and rear sensors and the really cool hyper black alloy wheels did not escape my notice either.

As I drove the Beetle out of the showroom garage of VW in BGC I took a quick corner and then made a stop so I could become familiar and to ogle, too, at the many details of the Beetle. 

For starters, I realized that the VW Beetle Club Edition is a car of the 21st century. It boasts more masculine, flatter and wider appearance. The design lends that Beetle a sturdier feel and look. I also fell in love with the extended bonnet, the steeply angled windscreen, which is set further back, and a flat roof line that somehow gave me the feel of being behind the wheel of a sports coupe, if you like. 

But, there are also the old familiar like the circular headlights and the rounded roof, which come from the classic Beetle.   

Let me not forget to add here the tone-on-tone interiors, which are both classic and elegant. And, oh, the steering wheel with its multi-function capacities for controlling the multi-function display, radio and telephone did not go unnoticed either.

And, before I got a ticket for parking on a no parking zone, I notice the Park Distance Control, which is a great aid when backing up. The sensors worked on a dime as I backed out of the space I had parked in. The reliable sensors in the front impressed me and rear bumpers that beep to alert me of any obstacle there might be — either in front or behind the Beetle. Yes, these little beeps helped me as I got closer to an object that may have been out of my sight — as the beeps quickened as I got closer to the object.

Just drive love Bug

It was time to take the Beetle for a spin. Since the test drive happened on a weekday, I set my sights on nearby Tagaytay for a late lunch at Bag of Beans.  

Driving down the SLEX was a little bummer that afternoon as there was a traffic build up before I hit the Alabang exit — and rain had started to fall. 

I was only too happy to try out the standard Electronic Stabilization Program and anti-lock braking system (ABS) including brake assistant, ABS, electronic differential locks (XDS), anti-slip regulation (ASR) that the Beetle is equipped with.

Since the rain was falling, leave it to the many private jeepneys, cars and the humongous buses to switch lanes (minus a signal light) at a moment’s notice. 

Although, the lane shifting is a real bummer, I was glad that the oh so high-tech braking system managed to allow the Beetle to top at a moment’s notice allowing me to stay on course with masterful ease.

The Beetle’s DSG transmission ran smoothly because of its well-spaced gear ratios. DSG gearboxes are made up of two independent gearbox unit, which move through the gears, allowing the engine to engage with each of the two gearboxes via two drive shafts. The dual-clutch gearbox permits an automatic gear change with no interruption in power flow.

I made it to Bag of Beans (which is now located a little further down the main road of Tagaytay) happy from the drive — and famished because it was almost 3 p.m.

Late lunch over — it was time to head back.

As I drove the Beetle down the Sta. Rosa route back to Manila I imagined myself as a racecar driver — much like the main hero in The Love Bug. It was so much fun recalling the day I watched the movie with my siblings in tow. There were four of us — and my brother even won the raffle before the movie. We watched the movie at Rizal Theater in Makati (it no longer exists today).

I guess that’s why I love the Beetle — it brings back the joys of a childhood that I had, and at the same time it reminds this 50 something adult that first car love never  dies — especially since this VW Beetle Club is everything good that comes with the 21st century.

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