2012 Volkswagen Beetle - Click above for high-res image gallery
Those lucky Oprah fans who were fortunate enough to be given a 2012 Volkswagen Beetle all those months ago now know what their new set of wheels will look like. Volkswagen has officially yanked back the sheets on the latest take on the 2012 Beetle. Longer and wider than its predecessor, the German automaker says that the vehicle's designers were inspired by the lines of the original Beetle. As a result, there's more than a little Ragster Concept thrown into the mix with a longer roof line and a more aggressively-raked windshield.
The look isn't quite what we expected after seeing spy shots of the car frolicking around in the sun. It would seem VW pulled a fast one on us by fitting the 2012 mule with last-generation taillights at the time, as the new one features larger magnet-like units that give the 2012 model's rump a radically different look.
The production vehicle boasts seating for four, though the back bench can be folded to allow for more cargo room in a pinch. European buyers will have their choice of four engines ranging from an efficient 1.2-liter gasoline mill to a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine and a 1.6-liter turbo diesel. At this point, it isn't yet official which exactly which of those will make their way across the Pond, but we're guessing all three, as VW has previously stated that it will bring a TDI to the States – and even offer it in a Cabriolet model.
The 1.6-liter turbo diesel engine delivers around 105 horsepower while returning 65.7 mpg on the EU scale thanks to a start/stop and intelligent battery regeneration system. That equals out to around 54 mpg on the U.S. cycle, though the EPA may have something different to say should the oil burner show up in the States.
On the more entertaining end of the spectrum, Volkswagen is also offering the 2012 Beetle with a 2.0-liter turbocharged gasoline engine with around 200 horsepower. Like the Golf GTI, that powerplant will benefit from a transmission with an XDS electronic differential lock as standard equipment.
New generation of Volkswagen Beetle unveiled in Shanghai, New York and Berlin
All-new vehicle draws design cues from original Beetle launched 73 years ago
Efficient engines and innovative features combine with heritage to make a 'modern classic'
On sale in North America in autumn 2011, then mainland Europe; UK early in 2012
Volkswagen has unveiled the latest generation Beetle in Shanghai on the eve of the city's motor show, marking a new era in this iconic car's history. The latest generation moves away from design of the New Beetle of 1998 and instead draws on cues from the original and Beetle Ragster concept shown in Detroit in 2005. As such it's longer, wider and lower, giving a more masculine and dynamic appearance.
The Beetle now measures 4,278 mm in length (+152 mm), 1,808 mm in width (+84 mm) and 1,486 in height (-12 mm). The track width front and rear, as well as the wheelbase at 2,537 mm, are also increased. 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 now more akin to that of the original Beetle. The boot capacity is a practical 310 litres, up from 209 litres in the 1998 model. The Beetle has four seats, with a split-fold rear seat for added versatility.
Inside the cabin, the Beetle's designers created a modern, practical and distinctive appearance with easy to identify and ergonomic controls. Certain features, such as the glovebox and colour accent panels hark back to the original.
Three trim levels will be available – Beetle, Design and Sport – and each will be endowed with its own individual character and features. A wide range of innovative optional equipment will also be available, ranging from Keyless Access through satellite navigation systems and a panoramic sunroof to bi-xenon headlights and LED daytime running lights – all of which are available for the first time on a Beetle.
In the UK, a choice of four engines will be offered: three petrol – a 1.2-litre TSI 105 PS, a 1.4-litre TSI 160 PS and a 2.0-litre TSI 200 PS; and one diesel – a 1.6-litre 105 PS with BlueMotion Technology. Thanks to the addition of Stop/Start and battery regeneration systems the Beetle 1.6-litre 105 PS is estimated to have a combined fuel consumption of 65.7 mpg and carbon dioxide emissions of 112 g/km.
As well as being economical and environmentally sound, the Beetle is also built to be one of the safest cars on the road thanks not only to features such as standard ESP and six airbags but also a laser-welded and galvanised body structure which has one of the highest torsional rigidity values in the segment at 26,000 Nm/?. In addition the range-topping engine, the 2.0-litre 200 PS, will feature standard XDS electronic differential lock as fitted to the Golf GTI.
The new car will be available to order in the UK in the summer, with first cars arriving in showrooms early in 2012. More details will be available closer to launch.
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.