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Volkswagen's Iconic Beetle Roars Into The 21st Century - Web Exclusive

The new Beetle offers a modern interpretation of the classic design, along with no-compromise German engineering and a sporty new attitude

Jul 15, 2011 SHARE

• Starting Base Price of $18,995 for Beetle

Epcp 1107 01 o +volkswagen iconic beetle+rear Photo 2/7   |   Volkswagen's Iconic Beetle Roars Into The 21st Century - Web Exclusive

• Sporty Turbo Model has a Starting MSRP of $23,395

• Longer, Lower, and Wider than the Previous Beetle

• Available Premium Features include Bluetooth® Technology, Slide and Tilt Panoramic Sunroof, Fender® Premium Audio System, three-color ambient lighting, kaeferfach additional glovebox, Keyless Access with push-button start, and leather seating surfaces.

• Efficient TDI® Clean Diesel Model Goes on Sale in 2012, Expected to be Most Fuel-Efficient Beetle Ever

Berlin—When the first Beetle rolled off the production line, it was simply called the Volkswagen—“the people’s car”—but its distinctive shape inspired nicknames across the globe: Beetle, Käfer, Vocho, Coccinelle, Fusca, Maggiolino or 甲壳虫! In total, 21.5 million cars were sold, making it the most popular car manufactured off a single platform of all time.

More than 60 years later, in 1998, the “New Beetle” rekindled the spirit and imagination of the original for a new generation of Volkswagen owners. This second-generation version sparked another round of “Beetle Mania”.

Epcp 1107 02 o +volkswagen iconic beetle+side Photo 3/7   |   Volkswagen's Iconic Beetle Roars Into The 21st Century - Web Exclusive

Now, the third-generation of the internationally beloved Beetle is ready for prime time, going on sale in the United States this fall. There will be two models at launch: the Beetle and the sporty Turbo. In 2012, a TDI® Clean Diesel will go on sale, which is likely to be the most fuel-efficient Beetle ever made.

Updating an icon

Only people who really know and respect the Beetle’s heritage could produce a new generation of this iconic vehicle. The task for Volkswagen’s design team was clear: develop a modern interpretation of the Beetle, with all the benefits of today’s technologies and safety features, along with the driving characteristics that define the Volkswagen brand. The result had to remain affordable and stay true to the Beetle’s spirit and great heritage.

It’s always hard to reinterpret an original. Think of classic designs such as the Coke® bottle, the iPhone®, Ray Ban® Aviator™ sunglasses, the Porsche® 911®, a Leica® camera, and … The Beetle. How does one reinvent a look that is so recognizable and unique? Volkswagen Group Design Chief Walter de Silva and Volkswagen Brand Design Chief, Klaus Bischoff, welcomed the task and set about designing “a new original”.

Epcp 1107 03 o +volkswagen iconic beetle+side Photo 4/7   |   Volkswagen's Iconic Beetle Roars Into The 21st Century - Web Exclusive

The designers wanted to develop the new car around the earliest Beetle profile rather than the 1998 New Beetle. In short, they wanted a car that respects the past but looks toward the future. And that is what they created.

Exterior

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Placing the original Beetle and the 21st Century Beetle next to one another, it’s clear that the lines of the rear sections are nearly identical, but the overall look is bolder and more dynamic. The Beetle also breaks free of the design geometry defined by three semi-circles—front fender, rear fender, and domed roof above it. The roof profile actually runs distinctly lower and can be considered a development of the Ragster concept car shown in Detroit in 2005. As a result, the new Beetle is bolder, more dynamic, and more masculine. "The Beetle is now characterized by a clean, self-confident and dominant sportiness. The car not only has a lower profile; it is also substantially wider, the front hood is longer, the front windshield is shifted further back and has a much steeper incline. All of this creates a new dynamism,” explains Klaus Bischoff.

The 2012 Beetle is 71.2 inches wide (3.3 inches wider), 58.5 inches tall (0.5 inches lower) and 168.4 inches long (6.0 inches longer). The new focal point is the C-pillar. The development team also increased the car’s track widths and wheelbase. The changed proportions give the Beetle a powerful and dynamic appearance.

A new feature is the rear spoiler that is standard on the 2.0 Turbo and is integrated into the design. The top surface of the rear spoiler is black, while the underside is painted in body color.

Epcp 1107 06 o +volkswagen iconic beetle+interior Photo 6/7   |   Volkswagen's Iconic Beetle Roars Into The 21st Century - Web Exclusive

Interior

Klaus Bischoff characterizes the new Beetle’s interior thusly: “Its interior design is as unique as it is unmistakable, and very much a Beetle design, just like the car’s exterior styling.” The 21st Century Beetle’s styling, ergonomics and quality interact to create a new, friendly car with a highly individual nature. The shape and use of color for the painted or carbon-look dashboards harkens back to the design of the first Beetle.

Three round gauges are arranged in front of the driver (tachometer, speedometer, fuel gauge), providing all key information at a glance. A multifunction display is integrated in the speedometer, which is housed in the central position in the binnacle. The steering wheel is specially designed with optional painted accents in the spokes depending on the equipment line.

Framed by two air vents, the selected audio/navigation system is optimally located in the driver’s field of vision on the dashboard. Within easy reach, the climate controls are situated just below.

Epcp 1107 07 o +volkswagen iconic beetle+seats Photo 7/7   |   Volkswagen's Iconic Beetle Roars Into The 21st Century - Web Exclusive

Similar to the original Beetle, the new car has an extra glove box integrated into the dashboard—the kaeferfach or “Beetle bin”. The lid folds upward, while the standard glove box opens downward. Another classic feature is the optional auxiliary instrumentation package sited above the audio/navigation system that consists of an oil temperature gauge, a clock with stopwatch function, and a boost pressure gauge.

Even though the “cathedral ceiling” dome roof of the New Beetle has been replaced with a sleek and sporty roofline, front and rear passenger headroom remains plentiful. The longer roof section results in 0.4 inches more rear-seat headroom. Front legroom is improved, too, by 1.9 inches, and front shoulder room grows by 2.5 inches. Overall, the interior volume has increased from 81 to 85 cubic feet. The trunk is significantly larger, offering 15.4 cubic feet of space, compared with the New Beetle’s 12.0 cubic feet: with the seats folded, the capacity increases to 29.9 cubic feet. A split-folding rear seat—new on this Beetle—and a wide opening trunk lid ease loading and unloading.

Engines and Transmissions

At launch, the 2012 Beetle will offer two engines and transmissions: the 2.5-liter five-cylinder engine mated to a six-speed automatic and the 2.0-liter TSI® turbocharged four-cylinder engine with the acclaimed DSG® six-speed dual-clutch automatic. Five- and six-speed manual transmissions will be offered at a later date on the 2.5L and Turbo models respectively.

The dual-overhead-cam, 20-valve, 2.5-liter inline five-cylinder engine makes 170 horsepower and 177 lb-ft of torque. Fuel economy values are improved by up to 10 percent over prior 2.5-liter models. When outfitted with the six-speed automatic transmission, the EPA estimated fuel economy rating is 22 mpg city and 29 mpg highway.

The Beetle Turbo uses Volkswagen’s award-winning dual-overhead-cam, 16-valve, 2.0-liter turbocharged inline four-cylinder engine that produces 200 hp and 207 lb-ft of torque. With the DSG® automatic transmission, it offers an EPA estimated fuel economy rating of 30 mpg on the highway and 22 mpg city.

During 2012, the Beetle will become available with Volkswagen’s highly efficient 2.0-liter turbocharged inline four-cylinder TDI Clean Diesel engine that produces 140 hp and 236 lb-ft of torque. With manufacturer fuel economy estimates of 40 mpg highway, 29 mpg city, and 33 mpg combined, this will likely be the most fuel-efficient Beetle ever sold. Like the Turbo, the TDI will be offered with a six-speed manual transmission and the DSG® dual-clutch automatic.

Suspension

All Beetle models are fitted with a strut-type front suspension with a lower control arm and an anti-roll bar: on the Beetle, this is 22 mm in diameter and is increased to 23 mm on the Turbo. The Beetle has a torsion beam rear suspension with coil springs and telescopic dampers. Turbo models get a multi-link independent rear suspension, with coil springs, telescopic dampers, and an 18-mm-diameter anti-roll bar. All Beetle models will have standard anti-lock brakes (ABS) with electronic brake pressure distribution (EBD). The Beetle has 11.3-inch-diameter vented front discs and 10.7-inch-diameter rear disc brakes. The Turbo has larger 12.3-inch-diameter vented front discs, with red calipers.

To help ensure that power is applied properly in challenging conditions, the 2.0L TSI model features the XDS® cross differential (limited-slip) system that electronically monitors input from various wheel sensors and, in the event of slippage, transfers extra torque to the wheel or wheels with the most traction.

Model Line-up

The Beetle, which has a starting MSRP of $18,995, comes standard with a split folding rear seat, aux-in for portable audio players, a leather steering wheel, unique and customizable17-inch alloy wheels, and an eight-speaker audio system. Desirable options include a kaeferfach additional glovebox that is similar to that of the original Beetle, Bluetooth® technology, iPod® connectivity, heated front seats, three-color interior ambient lighting, a panoramic sunroof, 18-inch alloy wheels, the Fender® Premium Audio System, and leatherette seating surfaces.

The Turbo with the six-speed manual transmission will have a starting MSRP of $23,395, with the option of Volkswagen’s DSG© dual-clutch automatic transmission. It takes the standard equipment found on the Beetle and adds: Bluetooth® technology; iPod® connectivity; three-color ambient lighting; larger brakes with red calipers; the kaeferfach additional glovebox; sport seating surfaces; 18-inch alloy wheels; a rear spoiler; foglights; three additional gauges on the dashboard; and alloy pedals.

The Beetle comes standard with the RCD 310 sound system with eight speakers; an optional Premium VIII audio system features a CD changer, interface for SD cards, a touchscreen, and a navigation system. For the first time ever, navigation will be offered in the Beetle, with the RNS 315 featuring a five-inch touchscreen, CD player, and SD card slot. The Beetle will also offer concert-quality sound with an available Fender® Premium Audio System, designed exclusively for Volkswagen.

There are four trim levels of the 2.5-liter model: Beetle; 2.5 Beetle; 2.5 Beetle with sunroof; and 2.5 Beetle with sunroof, sound, and Navi. The Turbo is available as: Turbo; Turbo with sunroof; and Turbo with sunroof, sound, and Navi. Key optional features include:

• Panoramic roof. The transparent, panoramic tilt/slide glass sunroof is 80 percent larger than on the previous model. The insulating glass blocks 99 percent of UV radiation and 92 percent of heat energy.

• ender® Premium Audio System. The 2012 Beetle will offer concert quality sound with an optional Fender® Premium Audio System 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. Those choosing this sound system also receive adjustable interior ambiance lighting.

• Keyless Access with push-button start. Volkswagen’s automatic keyless entry and starting system, which allows the driver to operate without a door or ignition key, is appearing for the first time in the Beetle. When one of the front door handles is touched, the system detects access authorization from a transmitter, then unlocks the Beetle and starts the engine with the push of a button.

• Bi-Xenon headlights and LED daytime running lights. For the first time, the Beetle will be offered with Bi-xenon headlights. These will be available on future Beetle models, framing the xenon module on the outer perimeters of the headlights and serving as the daytime running lights and parking lights.

Safety and Security

The starting point in the Beetle’s safety armory is a very rigid body structure that uses ultra-high-strength, hot-formed steels in the crash-load paths and seamless laser welds. Electronic Stability Control (ESC) is standard, as are driver and front passenger airbags and Side Curtain Protection® airbags in front and rear. The Beetle includes Volkswagen’s advanced Intelligent Crash Response System that shuts off the fuel pump, unlocks the doors, and switches on the hazard lights if the car is involved in certain types of collision. The 21st Century Beetle is also covered under the no-charge Carefree Maintenance Program. All scheduled maintenance is covered for the length of the New Vehicle Warranty—three years or 36,000 miles, whichever occurs first. Additionally, all current Volkswagen vehicles use synthetic oil, which, when combined with state-of-the-art German engineering, eliminates the need for a 5000-mile oil change, and allows owners to go farther between scheduled oil changes.

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