Background

The New Beetle radio came in several different flavors just as the media electronics revolution gathered steam — today cassettes and CDs are relics while satellite radio and/or GPS OnStar communication have faded into well-deserved obscurity.

Most Beetles shipped with a standard radio package — marketed as “Premium V” up to mid-2004 and “Premium 5.5” thereafter — befitting an economy compact. This factory package was simple: a center dash radio, tweeters near the A pillar, and four woofer speakers (two at the front bottom of the doors and two just behind the B pillar). A powered roof antenna completed the system. Refer to the white highlighted components in the drawing above.

Our Turbo S model was endowed with the upgraded “Monsoon” package that added a front dash midrange speaker and an amplifier tucked into the rear side wall of the luggage area (green highlights).

Satellite radio capability (blue highlight) and the CD player (light green highlight) options frequently don’t work nowadays especially in model years before 2006. Before mid-2002 CD players were installed in the luggage area, and thereafter placed inside the center console behind the handbrake (much more convenient than opening the rear hatch in order to switch music selections).

The Ute conversion requires, at a minimum, the relocation of the two rear speakers. For Monsoon packages, the rear amplifier also must be moved to the passenger cabin under one of the front seats.

The rear speaker installation was never optimal because the wall thickness of the side panel doesn’t permit good acoustic projection. Mounting the rear speakers in the lower rear wall should improve the acoustics. However, reusing the old speakers is a bit of a problem since the OEM speaker grille can’t easily be adapted to the new location.

Upgrade options

Single DIN stereo

There are at least 50 radios that fit into the Beetle single DIN slot ranging from $30 to $1500 with a wide variety of functionality — basic AM/FM to CD/MP3/iphone integration. Any of these aftermarket products would work essentially like the old legacy system (either standard or Monsoon) with minimal impact on the dash or wiring harness.

Multimedia Video

Jensen CMM710 multimedia receiver

A flip-up screen enhancement with the Jensen CMM710 also fits into the Beetle’s single DIN slot (after some minor surgery to remove part of the old bracket).

The 10″ touchscreen displays video inputs (rear backup, front view, and/or cargo view cameras) as well a smart phone navigation app.

Rear speakers

While the original rear side panel speakers can be relocated to the rear wall, the OE outer grille was designed for embedded mounting and cannot be used on a flat surface. For this reason, it may be easier to simply replace the rear speakers altogether.

Space is limited: six-inch speakers will fit, but the grille will be very close to the side wall and a small slice out of the aluminum side wall end tab is required. A better fit would be a 5.25″ speaker and, given the very small cabin area, sound volume won’t be a problem.

Make sure to check rear speaker impedance (refer to the label on the back); some speakers are 4 ohm but some — like the pair in our 2004 Turbo S — are 2 ohm. Installing 4 ohm speakers in a 2 ohm system will not damage anything, but the balance between the front and rear may need adjustment since higher impedance speakers sound softer (lower output).

But sound physics are complicated, especially in a car’s environment. One mitigating factor is the change in rear speaker placement. The original rear panel placement wasn’t optimal and the thin wall did not provide much projection of sound.

Rockford Fosgate R1525X2 rear speaker

This is probably why VW selected 2 ohm speakers to boost sound output. Speaker placement on the rear wall pointing directly at the front seats will increase apparent volume. In the final analysis, a switch from 2 to 4 ohm speakers probably won’t make much of a difference. Finding 2 ohm speakers, by the way, is difficult and size offerings are limited (and tend to be expensive). It is also possible to simply power the rear speakers directly from the Jensen CMM710 amplifier (or other aftermarket amp) by running new speaker wires. This configuration would bypass the Monsoon amp for the rear speakers only; the front speakers would continue to be powered by the Monsoon system.

The Rockford Fosgate R1525X2 speaker is low profile 4 ohm design with a subdued grille design (5.25″ diameter). The 4.75″ cutout hole can be positioned on the back wall far enough towards the center to allow for clearance of the left and right interior side panels.

Speaker enclosure boxes

Speaker enclosure boxes

The area behind the rear wall where the back of the speaker protrudes must be waterproofed.

Fortunately, there is plenty of space behind the truck bed wall to install speaker enclosure boxes (this will also boost apparent volume) for added protection.

Cameras

Crux CUB-15 bullet camera

See also dual rear video camera discussion.

The Jensen CMM710 can accommodate dual cameras, front and rear. The Crus CUB-15 bullet camera is perfect for fiberglass and plastic bumper installations.

Antenna

Since the antenna is gone due to the shortened roof cut, the options for new antenna placement are limited. It is possible to replace the antenna (or switch out the long stem for a “stubby” or “shark fin” shape) but space is very tight, especially when trying to get the maximum extension of a sunroof.

Retrosound HPA-1 hidden antenna

An alternative is a hidden powered antenna, like the Retrosound HPA-1, that can be tucked away behind the headliner. An additional benefit is that there is no need for a hole in the roof, a typical vulnerability for water leakage. These products do require a positive battery lead unlike the original installation.