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.

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  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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…