Image Source Australian International Motor Show Facebook

A look back to the start: at the beginning Volkswagen built one of the most successful cars of all time and did not even give it a name. Why should it? After all, it was the Volkswagen! People loved it, and on all of the world’s continents the small car was nicknamed according to precisely what it looked like: Beetle, Käfer, Vocho, Coccinelle, Fusca or Maggiolino! It embodied the automotive concept itself and symbolised the democratisation of mobility. 21.5 million cars were sold. Then the New Beetle arrived in 1998. It introduced a new automotive feeling to the world and brought with it Beetle Mania. In 2010, the last production of the New Beetle series ended, it had sold more than one million cars. And now? The future of the most famous car in the world begins again. It’s The Beetle!

Technological goal: high-tech in harmony with the environment

Beetle is an icon. This car tells a story. Only someone who knows its history could make a new generation of this Volkswagen a reality. The task for the engineers was very clear. They had to develop a high-tech car that was still affordable, yet integrated with the communication technologies of our times, and of course achieved the lowest environmental impact. It also had to be a car that places driving fun at the forefront. The new generation Beetle would have to be a very agile, dynamic performer.

Design target: “Design a new original!”

The most recognisable automotive design in the world. Coke bottle, iPhone, Ray Ban Aviator, Beetle – how does one reinvent a design that is so recognisable and independent? There is a clear answer to this: It is necessary to understand the product and the brand. Volkswagen Design Chief Walter de Silva (Group) and Klaus Bischoff (Volkswagen Brand) “understand” both and therefore they set this as the objective for the Beetle: “Design a new original!”

The team began its task under Bischoff’s guidance. The challenge of designing a new Beetle was inspiring. The designers knew that they wanted to develop the original Beetle profile more than on the 1998 New Beetle. They also made very dynamic proportions a high priority. An interesting aspect was that more than a few team members actually own their own air-cooled Beetles. It has also become a cult car among younger designers at Volkswagen. And that is how the final design of the 2011 Beetle came to be in Wolfsburg – a car of today as well as a design tribute to the automotive seed of an entire corporate group. And unmistakable indeed: If one were to take the first Beetle and the new Beetle and place them in a room together – shining light just over the roofs and viewing them from the side – one would see that the lines of the rear sections are nearly identical.

Bolder, more dynamic, more masculine. A comparison to the 1998 New Beetle shows this: nothing remained as it was on the old car: The Beetle is now characterised 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. The new Beetle is bolder, more dynamic, more masculine.

The new focal point is the C-pillar. In parallel, the development team increased the car’s track widths and wheelbase. All of this gives the Beetle a powerful appearance with muscular tension.

Typical Volkswagen, typical Beetle: a new DNA

New styling. Despite all of its individuality, the styling follows the Volkswagen design DNA created by Walter de Silva and Klaus Bischoff. It clearly expresses itself in the horizontal image of the front bumper, front air inlet, straight lines of the bonnet edges, the precisely drawn line between the A-pillar and C-pillar and the styling of the rear lights.

Beetle, Kombi, original Golf. And yet it was possible to preserve all of the Beetle’s typical styling characteristics. This should come as no surprise; after all, it was vehicles like the Beetle, Kombi and original Golf that had a decisive influence on Volkswagen’s”design DNA.” Of course, some of the Beetle’s longstanding characteristics remain: these include its round headlights (optional Bi-Xenon headlights with LED daytime running lights are available for the first time in this model series), the flared wings, the shape of the bonnet, sides and door sills and – more than ever – the large wheels that can be integrated.

An original interior like no other

The cockpit makes a visual impression. Car drivers sit in the cockpit. Sometimes for hours at a time. And yet, there are cars whose cockpits do not leave any lasting impression. The Beetle’s cockpit is unique, unmistakable, cool, classic and designed with a passion for detail. This cockpit is perceived as something special.

Everything within reach and sight. Three round instruments arranged in front of the driver (tachometer, speedometer, fuel gauge) provide all key information; integrated in the speedometer (middle position) is a multifunction display. The shape and use of colour in the front facia panel of the dashboard hark back to the design of the first Beetle, yet the new car does not have a retro look. The audio/navigation systems are optimally located in the driver’s visual field on the dashboard and framed by two air vents. This also includes the controls for the climate control system. Everything is within grasp and sight.

Comeback of the glovebox. Similar to the original Beetle, the new car has an extra glovebox integrated in the front facia whose lid folds upward (the standard glovebox that is also integrated opens downward). Another classic feature: the optional auxiliary instruments above the selected audio/navigation system: oil temperature, clock with stopwatch function and boost pressure gauge. Also new: the steering wheels specially designed for the Beetle with painted accents in the spokes. Details like these clearly indicate that the occupants are in a Beetle – there’s no mistaking it.

Air-cooled Beetle. New Beetle. The Beetle. A distinguishing feature of The Beetle – the third generation if you will – is that its interior ergonomics and packaging are based on completely new parameters. While drivers in the air-cooled Beetle travelled in a very lowslung seat, and drivers of the New Beetle felt as if they were chauffeured because the bonnet was so far forward, the latest Beetle now offers an agile, driver-oriented coupé experience. Every feature is within easy reach. In addition, Volkswagen has once again succeeded in implementing a quality of materials that goes beyond its class. The car’s styling, ergonomics, operability and quality interact to create a new, friendly car with a highly individual nature.

New engine for the Beetle

The Beetle will be offered exclusively with the 1.4 litre TSI twincharged petrol engine with 118kW of power and 240Nm of torque. This engine is being used for the first time in this model and is coupled with a 6-speed manual or 7-speed DSG transmission.

Full specifications and pricing of The Beetle will be released at launch in early 2013.

2 Responses to “The Beetle – An icon debuts at 2012 Australian International Motor Show”

  1. I’m quite surprised that it’s taken a little while for the new Beetle to make it down under. Was back in Singapore in August and saw several of them already on the road. Main difference is for the Singapore market, the Beetle only comes with a 1.2 litre turbocharged engine with 90kW and 7-speed DSG. Other than that, standard features include leather seats, RCD510 and front fog lights.

  2. They put “that” engine in there? The one VW are trying to replace with all it’s issues? Are they insane?

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