VW plans new design for Beetle next year
The new "people's car"Our weekly look at all things automotive. Today's story by G. Chambers Williams III of the San Antonio Express-News.
The redesigned 2012 Volkswagen Beetle will go on sale in September at a starting price of $18,995 (plus freight), the German automaker announced.
That compares with a base price of $18,690 for the 2010 New Beetle; there is no 2011 model.
With the redesign this fall, VW is dropping the “New” from the Beetle’s name, and the car will be offered initially with a choice of either the base 2.5-liter inline five-cylinder engine or the optional 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, both of them using gasoline.
Next year, Volkswagen will add its 2.0-liter turbocharged clean-diesel engine to the list of choices, the same engine already offered in the compact Jetta sedan. It will have 140 horsepower and 236 foot-pounds of torque, and highway fuel economy of 40 mpg.
The automaker calls this newest rendition of its iconic vehicle the “21st Century Beetle,” the third generation of the company’s original “people’s car.”
For the $18,995 price, the car will come with the 170-horsepower five-cylinder engine and a five-speed manual gearbox, which will have EPA ratings of 22 city/31 highway.
With the optional six-speed automatic, the five-cylinder engine will have mileage of 22 city/29 highway, Volkswagen says.
“The 21st Century Beetle is an automotive icon reinvented, a nod to the heritage and character of Volkswagen and our remarkable history,” said Jonathan Browning, chief executive of Volkswagen Group of America. “This new interpretation of the original Beetle holds true to the traditional spirit of the car, with all the benefits of modern technologies and efficiencies.”
Standard equipment on the base 2.5L model will include a split/folding rear seat, auxiliary jack for portable audio players, leather steering wheel, 17-inch alloy wheels and an eight-speaker audio system.
Among options will be an additional glove box similar to that of the original Beetle, Bluetooth hands-free phone connection, iPod connectivity, heated front seats, three-color interior ambient lighting, faux-leather seating surfaces, keyless entry and push-button start, and bi-xenon headlights.
The top model will be the 2.0L TSI, with a starting price of $23,395. It will come with the 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder gasoline engine, with 200 horsepower and 207 foot-pounds of torque.
A six-speed manual is standard, but Volkswagen’s dual-clutch automatic will be optional. With the automatic, this model will have EPA ratings of 22 city/30 highway.
This version includes the amenities of the base model, along with Bluetooth, iPod connection, the three-color ambient lighting, larger brakes with red calipers, the extra glove box, sport seats, 18-inch alloy wheels, a rear spoiler, fog lights, three extra gauges and alloy pedals.
The newest Beetle will be 3.3 inches wider, 6 inches longer, and a half-inch lower than the New Beetle it replaces, and it’s more muscular in appearance.
Also available will be a panoramic tilt/slide glass sunroof that is 80 percent longer than on the previous model, Volkswagen says. No convertible model has been announced yet; a convertible version of the New Beetle was offered.
Standard will be an RCD 310 audio system with eight speakers, but available will be a premium audio system with a CD changer, interface for SD cards and a touch screen; as well as an even fancier 400-wat Fender system, designed exclusively for Volkswagen.
Included on all models will be Volkswagen’s Intelligent Crash Response System, which automatically shuts off the fuel pump, unlocks the doors and switches on the hazard flashers if the car is involved in a serious collision.
The new model is designed to be gender-neutral, Volkswagen says, so it won’t have the plastic bud vase found on the dash of the New Beetle.
A GPS navigation system will be offered for the first time.
The high domed roof of the New Beetle has been lowered, but there is more headroom for rear passengers because the roof isn’t as steeply arched as before. There’s more cargo space as well — 10.9 cubic feet behind the rear seat.
There is seating for up to five, and the cargo area is accessed through a rear hatch that is larger than the one on the New Beetle, making it easier to load cargo.
Three retro-style round gauges are directly in front of the driver -- tachometer, speedometer and fuel indicator. There will be a multifunction display in the speedometer, which is in middle position.