The world heard the Beetle name for the first time back in 1938 and with 73 long and impressive years tucked away nicely under their belts, Volkswagen has never really strayed away from their original design. The appeal for the Beetle never really faltered because it was, in fact, a unique design, but Volkswagen has made the decision to reignite the passion for the Beetle with efficient engines and innovative features combined to obtain a ‘modern classic’ in the 2012 Beetle. The vehicle will make its first appearance in China, at the Shanghai Motor Show, and then it will be brought to the 2011 New York Auto Show. Sales on the North American market will begin this autumn, while Europe sales will start in early 2012.
The new Beetle shares its platform with the new Volkswagen Jetta and will be 1,808 mm wide (84 mm wider), 1,486 mm tall (12 mm lower), and 4,278 mm long (152 mm longer). Thanks to the new proportions, the roof is extended further, the front windscreen shifted back, and the rear section follows the contour of the original Beetle.
US customers will have the possibility to choose from three trim levels - "Beetle", "Design," and "Sport" - and three engines - one diesel and two petrol.
UPDATE 05/03/13: VW has just announced a mid-model-year change for the Beetle Turbo, which includes a nice power hike and some exterior updates.
"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 bonnet is longer, the front windscreen is shifted further back and has a much steeper incline. All of this creates a new dynamism," explains Klaus Bischoff.
Volkswagen has been talking about the new Beetle’s design for quite some time now and they say it will take its inspiration from the original Beetle that debuted 73 years ago. No one in their right mind will think this is anything but a Beetle, but the changes in the reliable "Beetle format" are easily distinguished. The new Beetle is bolder, more dynamic, and more masculine, with the latter being a huge bonus for this generation of the car. Many men wouldn’t be caught dead in the bug-like vehicle in previous years, but we’re sure Volkswagen is hoping this stretched out design will open doors into the male segment. Looking at the new Beetle, you’ll notice the new design line from the front bumper and front air inlet, the straight lines of the bonnet edges, the precisely drawn line between the A-pillar and C-pillar, and the styling of the rear lights, all assisting in the new generation’s transformation into a new world.
A first for the Beetle models are the new bi-xenon headlights: 15 LEDs frame the xenon module on the outer perimeters of the headlights.
Starting with 2013 models built in May 2013 and later, the Beetle Turbo will include R-Line bumpers as standard equipment. These new bumpers feature grained black surfaces and chrome-frame signals up front and the rear bumpers features a diffuser.
As with the exterior, the interior also gets a modern, practical, and distinctive appearance with easy to identify ergonomic controls. While the carbon-look of the front fascia panel of the dashboard will take you back to the original Beetle, the new generation does not have a retro look. This fascia will be painted in Black for the base model, made of carbon fiber for the "Sport," and made to match the exterior color for the "Design" trim level.
The tachometer, speedometer, and fuel gauge all provide the key information, while a multifunction display is integrated in the speedometer. For the "Design" trim levels, Volkswagen is also offering chrome insertions on the adjustable air vents and the instruments.
As further proof that the new generation Beetle takes its inspiration from the original Beetle, Volkswagen is once again using a glovebox integrated in the front fascia and color accent panels.
For the US market, Volkswagen will offer three different engines for the new 2012 Volkswagen Beetle: one diesel and two petrol. The 2.0 TDI engine delivers a total of 138 HP and has a fuel economy of 40 mpg fuel economy in the Highway cycle, 29 mpg in City driving, and 33 mpg combined. It will be offered with either a standard 6-speed manual gearbox or an optional 6-speed dual clutch transmission.
The petrol lineup will include a 2.5 liter five-cylinder engine and a 2.0 TSI engine with 197 HP. Depending on the version, the petrol engine will deliver up to 25 mpg on a combined cycle and can be mated with either a standard 6-speed manual or an optional 6-speed DSG.
All Beetle Turbo deliveries, starting in May 2013, will include a revised EA888 2.0-liter turbocharged engine that is eight pounds lighter than the GEN 2 TSI engine, thanks to thin-wall crankcase casting; cylinder-head-integrated exhaust headers; downsized main bearings and roller bearings for the balance shafts; and four counterweights on the crankshaft instead of eight. On top of the weight savings, the new EA888 2.0-liter features a 10-horsepower boost to 210 ponies to go along with a fuel economy increase of eight percent and nine percent combined and in the city, respectively.
This extra horsepower takes the Beetle turbo to 60 mph in 6.6 seconds, as opposed to the original 6.8 seconds.
After the debut of the new Beetle, Volkswagen decided to offer a couple more engine options to make the vehicle even more affordable. The first is a 1.2 TSI engine that delivers a total of 105 HP and the second is a 1.6 TDI engine with an output of 160 HP.
The 2012 Volkswagen Beetle will go on sale this October with prices starting from $19,765 - about $500 cheaper than the model it replaces. It’s also worth noting that the New Beetle’s price is cheaper than one of its main rivals, the MINI Cooper and it’s MSRP of $20,100.
To talk about competition when it comes to a model that has been as successful as the Beetle - Volkswagen has sold more than 21.5 million units - is rather pointless. The Beetle seems to be in a class of its own, but if we had to choose a worthy competitor, we’d go with the new Mini Cooper and the few changes it has succumbed to for the 2011 model year.
The Mini Cooper has a crazy number of options for its latest model, but the most noteworthy in our minds is the range of engines producing between 121 HP to 181 HP. However, with power settling down at about the same range for both cars, the Beetle may slide just a bit ahead because of its successful history and modern design.
Jay Leno reviews the 2012 Volkswagen Beetle
- Improved exterior and interior aspect
- Both diesel and petrol engines
- Combines retro with modern look
- We expected an even more evolved exterior look