With subtle hints of the latest VW Scirocco as well as the previous Ragster concept car, the latest generation VW Beetle was simultaneously unveiled in Shanghai, New York and Berlin. The car was unwrapped in Shanghai on the eve of the city’s motor show. The new era in this iconic car’s history sees it move away from the design of 1998’s New Beetle and instead draws on cues from the Beetle Ragster concept shown in Detroit in 2005 as well as the original Porsche-designed car.
As such, the car is longer, wider and lower, giving a more dynamic appearance. The track width front and rear, as well as the wheelbase are also increased. The trunk capacity is also increased over the 1998 model.
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 more like the original Beetle.
The Beetle has four seats, with a split-folding rear seat for versatility. Inside the cabin, the Beetle’s designers created a modern, practical and distinctive appearance with ergonomic controls. Certain features, such as the glovebox and color accent panels hark back to the original. 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.
As part of the new car’s launch, Volkswagen celebrated its world debut on no less than three different continents, embedded in MTV World Stage Concerts.
As "The Black Eyed Peas" play hits from their latest album at the MTV World Stage Concert in New York, the Belgian duo "2manydjs" were playing a DJ set in Berlin. At the same time, in Shanghai, Volkswagen unveiled the new Beetle on the eve of the Shanghai Motor Show with an exclusive MTV Sound System hosted by a guest MTV VJ.
The 2012 Beetle is what VW is calling an automotive icon reinvented. Placing the original Beetle alongside the 21st Century Beetle, 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).
"The Beetle is now characterized by a clean, self-confident 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.
Another feature is the rear spoiler integrated into the design (standard on 2.0L TSI engines with 200hp). The top surface of the rear spoiler is black, while the underside is painted in body color.
The Beetle is sportier, offering both turbocharged TDI Clean Diesel and turbocharged gasoline engines. The 2.0L TSI model in the USA will get dual exhausts, a performance-handling package, 19” wheels, sport seats and the sleeker styling. Volkswagen will offer a panoramic roof, a range of audio options, including the Fender Premium Audio System, and a customization program for the 2012 Beetle with a large number of personalization options, including a wide variety of colors and wraps along with an annual theme model.
Inside, the shape and use of color in the painted or carbon-look dashboards harks back to the design of the first Beetle, which had exposed bare-metal elements.
Three round instrument gauges are arranged in front of the driver (tacho, speedo, fuel gauge) providing key information. A multifunction display is integrated in the middle speedo. 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 located on the dashboard, with climate controls situated below. Similar to the original Beetle, the new car has an extra glovebox integrated into the dash. The lid folds upward, while the standard glovebox opens downward. Another classic feature: the optional auxiliary instruments above the audio/navigation system include oil temperature, clock with stopwatch function and boost pressure gauge.
The dome roof of the previous Beetle has been replaced with a flatterroofline. Front and rear passenger headroom remains plentiful, while in the rear, the longer roof section results in more space.
The 2012 Beetle will offer three engines in the US: the 2.5L gasoline five cylinder, the 2.0L TDI Clean Diesel and the 2.0L TSI turbocharged gasoline engine.
Transmission choices will include a 5-speed manual or optional 6-speed automatic on 2.5L models. The DSG 6-speed dual-clutch transmission will be offered on the TDI and 2.0L TSI models, while a 6-speed manual will come as standard.
The 2012 Beetle 2.0L TDI Clean Diesel is the most fuel-efficient Beetle ever. The engine produces 140hp and 236 lb-ft of torque. It meets all US emission limits and offers manufacturer estimates of 40mpg highway, 29mpg city, and 33mpg combined.
Fuel economy values are also improved up to 10 percent over prior 2.5L five cylinder engine models. Mated to a 5-speed manual transmission, it offers manufacturer estimates of 22mpg city and 31mpg highway. The optional 6-speed automatic offers manufacturer estimates of 22mpg city, 29mpg highway. The five-cylinder engine produces 170hp and 177 lb-ft of torque.
The Beetle 2.0L TSI is the sportiest model with 200hp and 207 lb-ft of torque. The four-cylinder turbo engine is estimated to provide 30mpg highway fuel economy.
To ensure that power is applied in challenging conditions, the TSI model features the GTI’s XDS cross differential (limited-slip) system. The system electronically monitors input from various wheel sensors and, in the event of slippage, transfers extra torque to the wheel with the most traction.
The 2012 Volkswagen Beetle will be available in two trim lines: "Design" and "Sport." Each has a unique character. The Beetle can also be customized with a wide choice of optional features. Key features include:
Standard in the Beetle is the RCD 310 sound system with 8 speakers (includes dual tuner). The premium VIII top audio system is the RCD 510 with integrated CD changer, interface for SD cards and touchscreen.
For the first time ever, navigation will be offered in the Beetle, with the RNS 315 featuring a 5-inch touchscreen, CD player and SD card slot.
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.
The 2012 Beetle will also 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. 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 are offered for the first time on the Beetle.
The 2012 Beetle features both active and passive safety. It includes 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 (ESC) is standard, as are driver and front passenger airbags and Side Curtain Protection airbags in front and rear.
The 2012 Beetle will be available from September 2011 and is covered under the no-charge Carefree Maintenance Program. All scheduled maintenance is covered for the length of the New Vehicle Warranty – three years or 36000 miles, whichever occurs first.
Name: The Beetle
World debut: April 18, 2011
Market launch, North America: September/October 2011
Equipment lines: “Design” and “Sport”
Engine specifications: 2.5L 5-cylinder (170hp/177lbs.-ft);
2.0L TDI (140hp/236lbs.-ft);
2.0L TSI (200 hp/207 lbs.-ft);
All US engines fulfil BIN5 / ULEV PZEV
Fuel economy (combined) USA: 33 mpg* (2.0 TDI® Clean Diesel) [Manufacturer’s estimate. EPA estimates not available at time of publication.]
Designers: Walter de Silva (Group), Klaus Bischoff (Brand), Exterior: Marc Lichte (team leader), Cris Lesmana, Nisan Kucam. Interior: Tomasz Bachorski (team leader), Ingo Bruckmann. Colour and trim: Oona Scheepers (team leader), Susanne Gerken
Exterior dimensions: 168.4in Length; 72.1in Width; 58.5in Height; 99.8in Wheelbase
Original Beetle US sales: 1949-1979 – 4,988,350
New Beetle US sales: 1998-2010 – 477,347
Total units built to date worldwide: more than 22.5 million