The classic Volkswagen “Beetle” with its distinctive shape became an auto industry icon. According to the German-headquartered automotive manufacturer, consumers throughout the world purchased 21.5 million VW cars. In 1998, more than 60 years after the first “Beetle” invasion, the company introduced the “New Beetle.”
The update wasn’t a fiasco, like the introduction of the “New Coke,” which made consumers questioned why a global company would mess with success. Rather, the “New Beetle” was widely welcomed, as subsequent sales indicated. Indeed, the introduction led to a new generation of Volkswagen owners.
But the story doesn’t stop there. Expect to see yet another wave of “Beetle-maniacs,” as Volkswagen has introduced a new model. It’s the 2012 Beetle and this year it’s making its debut throughout the world, including the United States, which has proven one of Volkswagen’s strongest markets.
“Volkswagen engineers came up with a new interpretation of a classic model that has a rich history, and they respected tradition,” says Kevin Joostema, general manager of product marketing and strategy for Volkswagen of America.
The new is mixed with the old, in the most positive sense. Not only does the 2012 Beetle incorporate the latest technologies and efficiencies, it demonstrates the optimal driving characteristics, fuel efficiency and affordability that always defined a brand that became popular throughout the world, adds Joostema.
“The 2012 Beetle model carries on a proud, successful heritage,” he observes.
The 2012 Beetle’s primary designers were Volkswagen Group Design Chief Walter de Silva and Volkswagen Brand Design Chief Klaus Bischoff. They essentially reinvented the VW in terms of looks and capabilities. Their efforts took in the past (embracing the earliest Beetle profile) and looked to the future (developing a car that would steer VW fans into the 21st century).
ON THE OUTSIDE
The exterior has been revamped, but the primary designers – Marc Lichte (team leader), Cris Lesmana and Nisan Kucam – built upon the classic design. There’s much that’s the same in the outside design – for instance, lines of the rear sections are almost identical – but there’s also much that’s different. “The 2012 Beetle’s exterior look is much more dynamic,” says Joostema.
According to the company, the model eschews of design geometry defined by three semi-circles (front wing, rear wing and domed roof). The new car, which is characterized by its sportiness, has a lower profile, is substantially wider (it has a longer front hood), and has a windshield shifted further back.
As far as dimensions, the 2012 Beetle is 71.2 inches wide (3.3 inches wider), 58.5 inches tall (.5 inches lower) and 168.4 inches long (six inches longer). Its designers also increased the model’s track widths and wheelbase. Combined, these elements provide the new Beetle a powerful appearance with muscular tension. Further, a rear spoiler has been integrated into the new design.
This updated VW model offers both turbo-charged TDI® Clean Diesel and turbo-charged gasoline engines, as well as dual exhaust, performance-handling packages, 19-inch wheels, and sport seats – as well as the sleeker styling, which makes the 2012 Beetle much sportier – and more attractive – than previous incarnations.
ON THE INSIDE
Innovation extends to the interior, which was designed by Tomasz Bachorski (team leader) and Ingo Brückmann. The new interior design arranges in front of the driver three round instrument gauges (tachometer, speedometer, fuel gauge). This arrangement provides all key information at a glance. Further, a multifunction display is integrated in the speedometer in middle position.
The steering wheel is designed with optional painted accents in the spokes, depending on the equipment line. The selected audio/navigation system, framed by two air vents, is placed in the driver’s visual field on the dashboard – an optimal location. Climate controls are placed below, within easy reach.
Also, the new model has an extra glove box integrated into the dash, similar to the original Beetle. The lid folds upward, while the standard glove box opens downward. The new model includes another classic feature: optional auxiliary instruments above the selected audio/navigation system (oil temperature, clock with stopwatch function and boost pressure gauge).
To better accommodate for room and comfort, Volkswagen replaced the familiar “cathedral ceiling” dome roof with a sleek and sporty roofline, which provides plenty of front and rear passenger headroom. Indeed, in the rear seating area, the longer roof section has created more space.
The new model also offers more trunk space (10.9 cubic feet of space). The split-folding rear seat and a wide opening trunk lid make loading and unloading far easier.
UNDER THE HOOD
The 2012 Beetle offers three engines: the 2.5L gasoline five cylinder, the 2.0L TDI® Clean Diesel and the 2.0L TSI® turbocharged gasoline engine. Transmission choices include a five-speed manual or optional six-speed automatic on 2.5L models. Volkswagen’s acclaimed DSG® six-speed dual-clutch transmission will be offered on the TDI Clean Diesel and 2.0L TSI turbocharged gasoline models, while a six-speed manual will come standard.
Volkswagen cars have always been well-known for their fuel efficiency. But Joostema reports that it’s now even better. The 2.0L TDI Clean Diesel engine, he says, is the most fuel-efficient Beetle the company has ever produced. The quiet, four cylinder engine produces 140 horsepower and 236 pound-foot of torque. Of course, it meets all U.S. emission limits and boasts impressive miles-per-gallon estimates (40 highway, 29 city and 33 combined).
According to the company, fuel economy values are also improved up to 10 percent from previous 2.5L five-cylinder engine models. As it’s mated to a five-speed manual transmission, it offers manufacturer estimates of 22 mpg city and 31 mpg highway. The optional six-speed automatic offers manufacturer estimates of 22 mpg city and 29 mpg highway. The five cylinder engine produces 170 horsepower and 177 pound-foot of torque.
The Beetle 2.0L TSI, the sportiest model ever offered, boasts 200 horsepower and 207 pound-foot of torque. Power delivery remains smooth and direct across the rpm range. The four-cylinder turbo engine is estimated to provide 30 mpg highway fuel economy. Further, the 2.0L TSI model features the XDS® cross differential (limited-slip) system, which ensures that power is properly applied in the most challenging conditions. For instance, the system electronically monitors input from various wheel sensors. If slippage occurs, the system transfers extra torque to the wheel or wheels with the most traction.
The 2012 Beetle is available in two trim lines – “Design” and “Sport” – each with unique characters. “The new model also includes premium and optional features,” Joostema points out.
The new Beetle is customizable with a wide choice of optional features that include:
- Radio-CD and radio-navigation systems – Standard in the Beetle is the RCD 310 sound system with eight speakers (including dual tuner). The premium VIII top audio system is the RCD 510 with integrated CD changer, interface for SD cards and touch screen. For the first time ever, navigation willbe offered in the Beetle, with the RNS 315 featuring a five-inch touch screen, CD player and SD card slot.
- Panoramic roof – The transparent, panoramic tilt/slide glass sunroof is 80-percent larger than on the previous model, and the insulating glass blocks 99 percent of ultraviolet radiation and 92 percent of heat energy.
- Fender Premium Audio System – This optional system instills the new model with concert quality sound. The system is equipped with an additional subwoofer and 400 watts of output power. Embedded in the vehicle design is proprietary Panasonic® speaker technology. The system covers the cabin with directional sound from front door speakers that generate imaging beyond the capabilities of traditional speaker designs. It cuts through the noise and other distractions with front dual voice coil speakers, with extended range for all musical genres. Customers opting for this sound system also receive adjustable interior ambiance lighting.
- Keyless access – For the first time, Volkswagen offers an automatic keyless entry and starting system, which allows the driver to operate without a door or ignition key. When one of the front door handles is touched, the system detects access authorization from a transmitter, then unlocks the car and starts the engine with the push of a button.
- BI-XENONTM headlights and LED daytime running lights – Another Volkswagen first, the Bi-xenon headlights frame the xenon module on the outer perimeters of the headlights and serve as daytime running lights and parking lights.
The 2012 Beetle features both active and passive safety. “Safety has always been a major consideration for Volkswagen,” says Joostema.
New safety features include Volkswagen’s advanced Intelligent Crash Response System, which initiates automatic safety protection in some types of collisions. The electrical supply to the fuel pump is shut off, the doors unlock and the hazard lights switch on. Electronic Stability Control is standard, as are driver and front passenger airbags and Side Curtain Protection® airbags in front and rear.
MEET THE BEETLE
The new Beetle made its world debut in April 2011. The North American launch will take place in fall of this year, and come from Volkswagen of America Inc. (VWoA), which is headquartered in Herndon, Va. and a subsidiary of Volkswagen AG. Headquartered in Wolfsburg, Germany, the parent company is Europe’s largest automaker and one of the world’s largest passenger car producers. VWoA sells the Eos, Golf, GTI, Jetta, Jetta SportWagen, CC, Tiguan, Touareg and Routan through approximately 600 independent U.S. dealers.
The Volkswagen Group is the world’s third largest auto manufacturer. In 2010, the Group sold more than seven million vehicles across the globe (an impressive 11.3 share of the world’s passenger car market). The Group is comprised of eight brands – Volkswagen, Audi, Bentley, Bugatti, Lamborghini, SEAT, Škoda and Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles – from six European countries. It operates 61 production plants in 15 European countries and six countries in the Americas, Asia and Africa.
In the United States, the VW brand has always been popular, and it is growing in popularity. The new Beetle model should turbo-charge consumer embracement.