September 21, 2017, 8:15 pm
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Reminiscing with a more fun to drive VW Beetle Club Edition

It was at the University of the Philippines Diliman campus where I saw hundreds of Volkswagen Beetle in the 70s. It was the most popular car at the time and almost everyone wished he could have one someday.  One schoolmate had his Beetle as a gift from his parents upon his high school graduation. Even our professors drove Beetles. Some schoolmates had the Brasilia 2-door hatchback or was it a minivan? And a van, the VW Kombi was also a common sight in the campus.

I had my second-hand Beetle, my first car, in the mid-80s and even put in seven people on it when we drove from Ayala Makati to Ortigas EDSA to observe the People Power rally in 1986. One of my most memorable drives was when I brought my family (only four of us at that time) to Puerto Azul in Ternate, Cavite for a weekend stay. Then we drove back on the scenic Cavite highways and capped the weekend with a Mass at St. Francis Church in Mandaluyong City. Then there were the trips to Binangonan, Rizal and to Los Banos Hot Springs in Laguna and the three times a week drives to Rizal Memorial Coliseum for the PABL basketball games which the company I worked for used to organize. I had fun using my old Beetle even if it had no aircon and I relied only on the folding air vent on the front windows and a mini car fan to keep myself cool. It also had a basic AM radio for my news and music while on the road. But it served us very well. I even learned how to do minor mechanical repairs on the car by myself because it was such a simple ‘people’s car.’ 

But the modern Beetle is more sophisticated and with its new design and comfort and convenience features, it certainly is much more fun to drive. 

I chose the Diliman campus for sentimental reasons as venue for our shoot of the Beetle Club Edition which Volkswagen Philippines had kindly lent to us.  The new Beetle was first introduced in the country in 2013 via a grand launch along with other VW models at the Makati Stock Exchange on Ayala Avenue. Since then we’ve seen the more and more Beetles in various places.  

The 2017 Beetle Club Edition’s more prominent additions are its hyper black alloy wheels, front and rear sensors, touch-screen multi-media radio with navigation mirror link and fine leather upholstery. Of the new features, I like the front and rear sensors best as they make parking on tight spaces easier. The Beetle seems to be a little wider than other compact cars and with all those sensors, it is faster park the car. The black wheels also add to the sportiness of the car and brings me back to my running days when I could drive to a fun run venue with my sports bag and extra pair of shoes in the car’s small trunk. Of course, the new Beetle has a more generous space for luggage now. In fact, I drove the Beetle with friends in 2015 with a number of bags and tennis racquets in tow in San Pablo City. 

The car has turbocharged gasoline engine that produces 160 ps with its twin-charged direct injection1.4 TSI Engine.  I’m amazed at how the engine kicks with a slight press on the gas pedal and with fuel consumption still at a low level. Adding to the fun is the car’s smooth 7-Speed DSG which combines the convenience of the automatic and fuel efficiency of manual transmissions. 

Maybe one reason why we tend to reminisce quite a lot when driving a Beetle is  the retro style of the Speedometer, Tachometer and Fuel Gauges which were designed with the Classic Beetle in mind resulting in a nostalgic feeling in the dash. But it also has modern conveniences such as the Multi-Function Display. 

Heavy rains poured when we were about to finish our shoot but thanks to the Beetle’s powerful head lamps, we were able to navigate safely despite the low road visibility. For the rest of our daily drives mostly in Metro Manila, it was fun to still see a lot of people giving the iconic Beetle especially the Club Edition, a second look.
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