3rd verse, same as the first. Not entirely, of course, but when the subject is the Volkswagen New Beetle, the looks of the car are largely a foregone conclusion. Just like the current New Beetle evokes the original Type 1 with its roundy-round fat-fenderedness, the next version, expected to go on sale in May 2011, will continue paying homage to the classic form. The outward differences will be a less-arched roofline that's more like the Ragster concept, and reportedly more surface detailing to break up the current car's vast expanses of featureless sheetmetal.

The new roofline and a stretch in wheelbase, plus a bump in width, will allow more logical interior packaging. Underneath all the retro, the next Beetle will again be running hardware shared with the Jetta. The UK's Autocar reports that its sources indicate the Beetle's dynamics will improve, with the ride becoming more supple. The familiar strut front suspension and beam rear axle layout will return, though a multi-link rear suspension will go into top-zoot models for sportier reflexes. Powertrain combinations in North America will likely be only two or three choices, possibly a 2.0T at the top, a TDI for the economy conscious, and the Jetta's 2.5-liter inline five-cylinder standard otherwise. A hybrid powertrain may also be in the works.

While the concept of a "new" Beetle conjures visions of more of the same, Autocar's rendering looks fresh, and even within the constraints of a 70-year-old design brief, there's room for new expression.

[Source: Autocar | Rendering: Autocar]