I thinking about buying a VW Beetle, and am wondering about their safety record, and about how well they do in winter weather. We live in Colorado. Thanks!
The NEW Bettle is as safe as any car and with front wheel drive it handles snow quite well if equipped with proper winter tires. It is, however less reliable than other cars in that class and repairs are more expensive.
The old rear drive beetle has good traction, but is a very unsafe car and has a very poor heater. Current owners treat them mostly as hobby cars. The reason this model was discontnued was the impossibility to make it safe. The Rabbit which succeded it has front wheel drive and a body specifically designed with safety in mind.
The old Beetle is a mid 1930s design approved by Hitler for mass production, but the war prevented that. The Nazis were not terribly concerned with passenger safety.
It might surprise some to know it snows in California; but, it does and it does so quite heavily. I have a beetle and my observations are that is is a moderately heavy car for its small looks, and is a front wheel drive. there is nothing special, good or bad, about it in the winter.
The only problem is that there isn’t a whole lot of fender clearance. This makes it hard to put chains on and limits your selection in tire chains (tire chains are not legal, or common, in a lot of places; so, this may not apply to you). The fender-wells tend to pack up with snow pretty quickly too. However, none of these problems are unique to the beetle.
I have a 2002 Beetle and with real winter tyres, it does very well on snow and ice. It has full air bag protection as well.
My old style beetle was t-boned by a limo, and yes, the frame was bent, but the only damage I suffered was a spilled beer. I drove it home, and the other five cans made it as well. Some would say there are no unsafe cars.
I also live in CO, Denver/Boulder area, and I see lots of New Beetles zipping around in the snow, with issues only if the driver has no idea how to drive in the snow.
A head on collison would have removed you permanently from this world. The basic VW body was strong, it’s just the absence of frontend protection that made it dangerous.
I live on a steep, curved hill on the coast of Maine. Each winter we watch a neighbor who has a VW Beetle (newer model) do battle with the snow and ice on the hill as she tried to go up and down. She has passed our house going backwards, sideways and doing donuts. Very amusing. I keep a bucket of sand and a shovel by the garage door to help her get where she wants to go.
You might want to recommend she get a set of four real winter tyres (not just snow tyres). You could save her life. You might also want to pass on my recommendation to leave the car parked during bad weather.