Volkswagen has unveiled the latest generation Beetle in Shanghai on the eve of the city’s motor show, marking a new era in this iconic car’s history. The latest generation moves away from design of the New Beetle of 1998 and instead draws on cues from the original and Beetle Ragster concept shown in Detroit in 2005. As such it’s longer, wider and lower, giving a more masculine and dynamic appearance.
The Beetle now measures 4,278 mm in length (+152 mm), 1,808 mm in width (+84 mm) and 1,486 in height (-12 mm). The track width front and rear, as well as the wheelbase at 2,537 mm, are also increased. Overseen by Walter de Silva (Volkswagen Group) and Klaus Bischoff (Volkswagen Brand), with Marc Lichte the team leader for exterior design, the car’s new proportions mean the roof extends back further, the windscreen is shifted back and the rear section is now more akin to that of the original Beetle. The boot capacity is a practical 310 litres, up from 209 litres in the 1998 model. The Beetle has four seats, with a split-fold rear seat for added versatility.
Inside the cabin, the Beetle’s designers created a modern, practical and distinctive appearance with easy to identify and ergonomic controls. Certain features, such as the glovebox and colour accent panels hark back to the original.
Three trim levels will be available – Beetle, Design and Sport – and each will be endowed with its own individual character and features. A wide range of innovative optional equipment will also be available, ranging from Keyless Access through satellite navigation systems and a panoramic sunroof to bi-xenon headlights and LED daytime running lights – all of which are available for the first time on a Beetle.
In the UK, a choice of four engines will be offered: three petrol – a 1.2-litre TSI 105 PS, a 1.4-litre TSI 160 PS and a 2.0-litre TSI 200 PS; and one diesel – a 1.6-litre 105 PS with BlueMotion Technology. Thanks to the addition of Stop/Start and battery regeneration systems the Beetle 1.6-litre 105 PS is estimated to have a combined fuel consumption of 65.7 mpg and carbon dioxide emissions of 112 g/km.
As well as being economical and environmentally sound, the Beetle is also built to be one of the safest cars on the road thanks not only to features such as standard ESP and six airbags but also a laser-welded and galvanised body structure which has one of the highest torsional rigidity values in the segment at 26,000 Nm/°. In addition the range-topping engine, the 2.0-litre 200 PS, will feature standard XDS electronic differential lock as fitted to the Golf GTI.
The new car will be available to order in the UK in the summer, with first cars arriving in showrooms early in 2012. More details will be available closer to launch.
When the original was launched in 1938, it was known simply as ‘the Volkswagen’, quickly acquiring a raft of nicknames from across the world. Whatever the name, its popularity is not in question, with 21.5 million sold in the past 73 years.