Saaaaaaaaaaaafety-Free Beetle. . .

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Well, almost.

The VW Beetle, which is being retired after this year, is one of the few new cars you can still buy without all the new latest saaaaaaaaaaaafety features – which are really just driver pre-emption features.

These include Lane Keep Assist/Steering Assist – which obnoxiously assault you with flashing lights, vibrations through the steering wheel and even try to countermand your steering inputs – as well as ASS, automated start/stop.

The Beetle – bless it – lacks these “features.” Chiefly, because it’s old even though it’s new. The current (2019) model dates back seven years, to 2012, which was the last time VW did a major makeover. And seven years ago, things like Lane Keep Assist/Steering Assist and ASS were still To Come.

Today, they’re almost omnipresent. The only way to avoid them is to not buy a new car at all – or buy one of the few new cars that is still an old car.

Like the Beetle.

It is difficult to convey how pleasant it is  to just drive a car without the car driving you crazy by trying to “correct” your driving. Which is what these “assists” really are all about.

Lane Keep Assist/Steering Assist, for instance, gets its electronic panties in a bunch when you fail to signal before changing lanes or turning off the main road – even when there is no reason to signal – other than mindless ritual obeisance to traffic laws. If you don’t signal but do turn – and the car treads over a painted line – the lights will flash and the steering wheel will vibrate; the wheel may turn, too – if the Keep has Assist. Then you have to fight to turn the way you want the car to go.

ASS, of course, makes the car vibrate – at every stop – because the engine  does. And then chugs back to life. Over and over and over and over. Stop and start. Stop and start. To “save” a little gas at the cost of your peace of mind.

The Beetle, bless it, lacks ASS – and most of the rest.

It’ll beep if you don’t buckle up for saaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaafety. But that’s it. And you can defeat the seat belt nanny easily but just buckling the belt before you settle into the seat.

And then you can just drive – without being “assisted.”

I’ll miss you, Beetle.

Got a question about cars – or anything else? Click on the “ask Eric” link and send ’em in!

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7 COMMENTS

  1. I am an American living in Europe, where it’s not that bad … YET. I own a 2014 Hilux truck, and hunt year round. This is the first truck that I couldn’t modify to my standards. Here is what I did; Removed the rear view mirror, as it dangerously takes up about 33% of my windshield view, especially on the right where cars enter into my lane. I disconnected the plug from underneath each seat, so that iritating chime doesn’t sound when i don’t have the belt on. Disconnect the sensor wire in the steering column so the damn truck doesn’t ding when i open the door in the forest with the keys in the ignition. Remove the bulb in the back up light, and use the spot light installed on the bumper if i need to illuminate behind me, as nothing disturbs the forest at night like a back up light and brake lights. On my older Hilux i wired a switch from the fuse for the rear brake lights so I could turn them off when in the forest at night, but when i did it on this truck, having both brake lights out puts the truck into safety mode, and it wont run over 1500 rpm. So when I am sneaking into the forest in the night, just stopping the vehicle lights up the area like the second coming of Christ. What also pisses me off is that the speedometer is so deep in the dash that Toyota felt it necessary to constantly illuminate it, even in the daytime. In fact, it is brighter in the daytime than it is at night with the lights on. This means that when i am driving at night with my lights off in the forest, the dashbord lighting is brighter than a tv screen, and kills my natural night vision, so i use a piece of cardboard to cover the speedometer.

    These should all be programmable features that the owners of vehicles could change with connection to a pc or tablet. I also have to remove the bulbs from all of the indoor lighting (3 lights) as there is no longer a switch on the dome light anymore, and when i open the door, all the interior lights came on. What is it with car companies and lights everywhere?

  2. My 2018 Honda Civic LX has none of that. No Nav, no infotainment system, just an AM/FM radio, no extra bugsfeatures to “help” me drive, no ASS, either. When the lease is up, I intend to buy it.

  3. Even some alerts are annoying. My mother’s Dodge Journey (2014 model) that I end up driving occasionally actually has an alert for when you leave your turn signal on. I guess that could be useful if you’re prone to doing that, but if you’re trying to give a left lane hog the “I would pass you if I could” signal, it’s just another obnoxious ding that startles you and makes you take your eyes off the road because that same sound could also indicate something wrong with the car. Yeah, that’s exactly what you need when you’re on the freeway doing 75+ in close traffic!

    Of course it has the seatbelt chime (and message on the cluster screen) too, even if the reason you’re not wearing your seatbelt is that you’re literally just backing halfway down the driveway.

    • Yeah, if you’re coming down a long interstate exit and planning to turn right at the stop sign, our car will start dinging because it thinks you left your signal light on too long. It makes me think I’ve got some sort of horrible engine problem that it is warning me about until I realize what it is.

  4. The 2012-2018 Ford Focus is another new car of an older design. Since it had its last thorough makeover in 2012, it doesn’t have ASS, lane keep assist, etc. I have a 2015, and I love it. It has all the tech I want and none of the Big Brother BS that I don’t. I can’t believe more people didn’t buy them though. The Focus is practical, economical, and FUN to drive; Ford had a real winner with this car, and it’s sad to see it discontinued. I’m glad I got one while I still could…

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