April 18, 2011
Volkswagen simultaneously debuted its 2012 “21st Century” Beetle in Shanghai, Berlin and New York on Monday. More than 60 years after the original launch of the “People’s Car,” this is the sportiest, most fuel-efficient Beetle ever.
“This car brings back the spirit of the original Bug,” says Luca de Meo, Director of Marketing for VW Group. “It will reconnect people with the enjoyment, the fun, of driving.” And that’s entirely possible. Volkswagen has completely redesigned the 2012 Beetle from the ground up, with a focus on “fun.”
From the outside, the Beetle looks similar to the outgoing model, but wider, longer and lower to the ground. From nose to tail, the car is nearly six inches longer, and you can tell. The cabin of the Beetle has been pushed back behind a stretched hood, and the roofline has been lowered, almost squared-off, to bring the windshield closer to the driver. The overall effect appears to be less cute and more aerodynamic. The car is also more than three inches wider and half an inch lower to the ground for better handling. With LED running lights and optional 19” wheels, built-in spoiler and panoramic sunroof, it’s a sleek profile of a familiar icon. Keyless entry and ignition, as well as bi-xenon headlights are optional.
The interior of the Beetle has been completely overhauled, all for the better. Modern-day technologies meet retro styling, and high-quality materials abound. Color-adjustable ambient lighting compliments the color-keyed dash and trim, and old-school oil temperature, clock and boost pressure gauges are center-mounted as options on the dash. The “cathedral ceiling” on the old “new” Beetle is gone, replaced with a sporty roofline that accommodates ample headroom and plenty of light. The Beetle is also the second VW model to receive the premium Fender sound system, following the GLI, launched in Chicago.
And, the Beetle has plenty of get-up-and-go. The base Beetle comes equipped with VW’s 5-speed manual transmission and 2.5L five-cylinder engine at 170 HP, but the engine can be equipped with an optional six-speed automatic. VW’s much-praised DSG dual-clutch automatic will be offered in both the turbocharged TSI trim (200HP) and the green TDI clean diesel models (140 HP). Both come standard with a six-speed manual gearbox. Fuel economy is up for all models. The base Beetle is rated at 22 MPG city, 31 highway, and the 2.0L TSI receives similar mileage with extra boost.
Green car lovers will want to consider the TDI clean diesel model, which marks the most fuel-efficient Beetle ever built. It receives 29 MPG city and 40 MPG on the highway.
Pricing for the 2012 Beetle has yet to be announced, but the car is set to hit dealerships in late fall.
DAVIS ADAMS is an automotive enthusiast, industry observer and content producer for the AutoTrader editorial team. He has helped craft digital media for several industry brands, including Manheim, Consumer Reports, Toyota and Porsche. When he is not driving the newest, fastest cars on the road, Davis can be found running the trails of midtown Atlanta.