It was on Oprah that the new 2012 Volkswagen Beetle was teased for the first time last November and just recently, one unit was given to one of her fans. Justin was chosen to be in the audience that day but since he is only 17, he wasn’t permitted to attend. Volkswagen said that Justin wrote to the producers of the talk show. In April, the 21st Century Beetle was officially unveiled in Shanghai, New York and Berlin.
Volkswagen is hoping that the ‘less flower, more power’ attitude of the 2012 model will attract a bigger market. This latest version of the Beetle comes 73 years after the original Beetle was launched in 1938, which sold a record 21.5 million units in the time.
It has also been 13 years after the New Beetle debuted in 1998, a model that sold slightly more than 1 million units until production stopped in 2010.
The engine options in the US include a 2.0-liter TDI diesel with 140 hp that is coupled to either 6-speed manual or 6-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. The petrol range includes the old 2.5-liter five-cylinder unit with 170 hp and there’s also the 2.0-liter TSI turbocharged gasoline unit that delivers 200 hp.
More than a vehicle, the Volkswagen Beetle is already an icon. Thus, only VW has the capability and expertise to create a modern resurrection of this vehicle that is still affordable, laden with the current communication technologies and is environmental friendly. Moreover, the newest iteration of this iconic car should be fun to drive yet agile and dynamic. In terms of fuel efficiency, the new VW Beetle is as economical as the latest generation.
In fact, its European 1.6 TDI version consumes only 4.3 liters of diesel per 100 kilometers while its American 2.0 TDI model could travel for around 33 miles per gallon of fuel before needing to refuel. The VW Beetle is considered as one of the most recognizable in the world. Thus, one of the main challenges in evolving the VW Beetle is reinventing a design without losing its identity and independence.
This challenge can be hurdled by fully understanding both the product and the brand, and there is no one else who can discern the Volkswagen and the Beetle better than design chiefs Walter de Silva (Volkswagen Group) and Klaus Bischoff (Volkswagen Brand). Bischoff and de Silva set a new objective in creating the next Beetle -- "Design a new original!"
Under Bischoff's guidance, the design team for the new Beetle commenced their work. Their main priority was to provide the latest Beetle with very dynamic proportions, building on the profile of original Beetle. It is of note that some members of the designers are Beetle owners themselves. In fact, the air-cooled Beetle is considered a cult car among younger designers at the German carmaker.
Their personal intimacy with the Beetle is one of the factors considered in creating the final design of the 2011 Beetle. Interestingly, the lines of the rear sections of the original Beetle and the latest evolution – when compared against each other -- are nearly identical. However, when the 2011 Beetle and the 1998 New Beetle are pitted side by side, no similarities can be recognized. It was as if VW remade every part of the new vehicle.
The latest Beetle is bolder, more masculine and more dynamic than the 1998 New Beetle, as characterized by a neat and dominating sportiness. Bischoff quipped that compared to the 1998 New Beetle, the 2011 VW Beetle has a lower profile and front bonnet and is significant wider. Its front windscreen has been shifted further back and now features a steeper incline. Moreover, the three semi-circles prominent on the front wing, rear wing and the domed roof of the New Beetle are nowhere to be found on the latest version of the Beetle.
In addition, the roof profile of the latest Beetle now runs lower and could be regarded as a continuation of the Ragster concept car unveiled in Detroit in 2005. Compared to the 1998 model, the 2011 Beetle is 152 mm longer (at 4,278 mm), 84 mm wider (at 1,808 mm) and 12 mm taller (at 1,486 mm). Since the new Beetle is longer, VW was able to extend its roof further. VW also shifted its front windscreen back, and had the rear section follow the contour of the original model. VW also made its wheelbase longer and its track wider. For the latest Beetle, the focal point is now the C-pillar.