I’m out testing a VW Beetle TDI convertible this week for my upcoming San Diego Union-Tribune column on the best beach stops in San Diego County. Yeah, it’s a tough job but somebody has to do it.

My initial impressions, after driving from Border Field State Park at the US-Mexico border, Imperial Beach, Coronado and Downtown San Diego, is that this diesel version of any teen girl’s favorite ride is too cute, but also a really fun car to drive.

The TDI badge means under the hood is a turbocharged diesel engine, but most drivers would be hard-pressed to notice that this is anything but a sporty, small call in the great Volkswagen tradition. Acceleration was plentiful on a brief freeway drive, there were no problems in city traffic, and response was great on twisting, country roads in the Tijuana River estuary. Not slow or smelly.

The second-generation New Beetle is still the hot car for young women, as experienced by the glances and smiles I got on the road (I don’t even want to think that these cuties were smiling at creepy-old-guy me). The update makes it look more like the Stout Scarab rather than an inflated version of the classic Beetle. It’s comfortable and really fun to drive, but I doubt in its demographic will opt for the six-speed manual transmission that’s in this car. In fact, most of them will stay away from the diesel, too. So this particular car is an anomaly, which is too bad.

So, I’m off to take some more photos, and maybe a drive up to Julian to work on my next Joyride Guru e-book.

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