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New Car Sale Is Short on Radio Talk

'More speakers, more boom boom'

I drove another new VW Beetle off the lot this week.

The radio aspect of the buying experience was different than it was nine years ago.

Back then, the salesman asked me three times if I wanted to upgrade the radio. At the time the upgrade provided a radio with CD player to replace the standard radio/cassette player. I was fine with the AM/FM/cassette in the dash.

There really is no radio upgrade from VW in the model I have now, unless I wanted to buy the convertible, which features 10 speakers. “More speakers, more power and more boom boom,” states the automaker in its 2009 New Beetle brochure. (Here at Radio World, my “gear” colleagues assure me “boom boom” is a technical term they use from time to time … Not!)

So my new, standard radio is AM/FM plus an MP3-capable in-dash CD with a six-speaker stereo system. An aux jack in the dash allows me to plug in those MP3 players. It includes a few months of free Sirius Satellite Radio service once I “activate” the unit. Whether that includes a “best of” package of both Sirius and XM remains to be seen; the salesman had nothing to say about that. (The brochure says it’s six months of free service and the salesman said three, so that’s something else to figure out.)

He didn’t have much to say about HD Radio, either, other to confirm (when I asked about it) that VW doesn’t offer it. I’ll need to explore aftermarket units.

So in general, the radio portion of this sales interaction was short. He was focused on trying to sell me the car on their lot that day as well as pushing the extended service package. When the economy’s bad, automakers are focusing on just getting the car off the lot.

And yes, I’m wedded to the Beetle. My parents took me home from the hospital in one when I was born and I learned how to drive on a VW Squareback.