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2012 VW Beetle Revealed

Posted in Design, NEW YORK INTERNATIONAL AUTO SHOW, News, Promoted, Volkswagen by Kurt Ernst | April 18th, 2011 | 11 Responses |

The 2012 VW Beetle. Image: VW of America

Calling it the sportiest, most fuel-efficient Beetle ever built, Volkswagen has finally taken the wraps off of their latest version of the iconic, rounded coupe. From the beginning, VW’s engineers had the difficult job of designing, in their words, “a new original”. Get it right, and the Beetle lives as one of the most popular cars of all time; get it wrong, and your design team is forever known as the “group that killed the Beetle”. The only way forward was to pen a car that respects the past but looks towards the future, so VW’s design team started by basing the new design on the very first Beetle.

Image: VW of America

The first thing you notice about the 2012 Beetle’s design is that it’s more than arch on arch on arch. The new car is longer, lower and wider, and better integrates the front and rear fenders into the design. The faux running boards are an homage to Beetles of the past (like the ’67 I learned to drive a stick in), and the edgier lines remove quite a bit of the “cute” factor that plagued the second generation cars. The last generation Beetles were almost cartoon replicas of what a car should look like, but the new, third generation car carries a certain attitude with it.

Image: VW of America

Backing up that stance will be several engine, transmission and suspension options. The base engine will be VW’s 2.5-liter, inline five cylinder, good for 170 horsepower and 177 ft lb of torque. Buyers can get this mated to a five speed manual or a six speed automatic, and the manual’s fuel economy is rated at 22 MPG city and 31 MPG highway. If you want better fuel economy, VW will offer the new Beetle in a TDI variant, good for 140 horsepower and 236 ft lb of torque. Buyers can choose between a six-speed manual or VW’s six-speed DSG dual-clutch automatic transmission, and the TDI returns up to 29 MPG city, 40 MPG highway. If that’s not fast enough for you, a 2.0-liter TSI version will be available, good for 200 horsepower and 207 ft lb of torque. Transmission choices will be either the six-speed manual or the DSG gearbox, and fuel economy is rated at 30 MPG highway. A sport suspension will be offered, and all TSI-equipped Beetles will include VW’s XDS (cross differential system) limited slip differential.

Image: VW of America

An advantage of the 2012 Beetle’s stretched design is greater interior room and more luggage space. The interior of the new car is definitely more on the sporting side than the outgoing version, but touches like a body colored dashboard tie the car back to its origins. TSI-equipped cars get a faux carbon-fiber dash, but I’ll reserve judgement on this until I get a chance to see it in person.

Look for the 2012 VW Beetle to appear in dealer showrooms in September or October of this year.

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11 Responses

  1. PFULMTL says:

    Oh my bad I though this was the 2012 PT Cruiser, my bad.

    Kidding aside, I don’t like it.

  2. BigRuss says:

    WOW im actually lusting after a new Beetle…. its like a Retro-designed Beetle which makes it one of 3 retro-designed cars that actually looked good…

    1. Dodge Challenger
    2. Ford Thunderbird
    3. New NEW Beetle

  3. Kurt Ernst says:

    I actually like the redesign. It’s a lot better than the renderings that were being circulated a few months back.

    I can’t help but think that VW should have done more with the car though. Want to REALLY make a statement? How about a twin-turbo, 2.5-liter Beetle, with AWD, wearing an R badge?

  4. Anthony Carbone says:

    I’v never been a Bettle person, but those rims and seats just work for it very well.

  5. Will says:

    YES! VW finally did it right. I hated the 2nd generation Beetles. This actually resembles the original. I’d rock one just because of that.

  6. eddie_357 says:

    ID crisis they needed to make it more like a TT,with a beetle roof line,to stay true to form.i give it a thumbs down looks like it was formed with a knife ,sadly those hard edges on the bumper make it look a souless CADD design, with no charm.

    • Kurt Ernst says:

      eddie, I like the roofline a lot better than on the renderings that were shown a few months back. I agree 100% on the hard-edged bumpers (especially in front), and to me it looks like they just ran out of time or money on the design.

  7. Andrew says:

    I’m still quite shocked they’re putting in such a big base engine for a relatively small car. I guess they’re trying to bring this thing upmarket into the premium novelty car category next to Mini. It certainly looks the part, but I was hoping they were going to go truly back to basics and make it an affordable, iconic, and fuel-efficient entry-level car. 31 HWY isn’t bad, but considering that the Beetle’s just a compact hatchback, it kinda is bad.

    • Kurt Ernst says:

      The problem is weight – new cars are MUCH heavier than the classics, thanks to the additional safety requirements of modern cars. Weight is the enemy of fuel economy, and a heavier car needs a bigger engine just to stay on par with older cars.

  8. dodahman says:

    Seriously? When are they going to put the engine back in the rear where it’s supposed to be. That’s what made the original beetle so great. I’m sure Porsche has something that would work. Stupid FWD…

  9. EScheidl says:

    I think this is a great improvement over the current design. I really like the lower roof line, the upgraded interior, and I think the bumper design just caps it off perfectly. To me it looks like the Beetle is now “all grown up”.

    Now if they would just build a plug-in electric version with at least a 100 mile electric range and a diesel generator to extend that range when necessary I’d be in.