2012 Volkswagen Beetle Makes World Debut

2012 Volkswagen Beetle Makes World Debut

2011 New York Auto Show

2011 New York Auto Show

Just the Facts:
  • The 2012 Volkswagen Beetle, which will go on sale here in September, on Monday made a simultaneous debut at the 2011 Shanghai Auto Show and 2011 New York Auto Show, as well as Berlin.
  • Volkswagen used a cautious approach with the redesign, sticking to the original name and clinging to retro styling cues.
  • There will be three engine choices in the U.S., including a 2012 Beetle 2.0-liter TDI clean diesel model that Volkswagen of America estimates will return 40 mpg on the highway.

NEW YORK — Anyone expecting a ground-up revamping of the Volkswagen Beetle for the new millennium was in for a surprise on Monday as the 2012 Volkswagen Beetle made its world debut in three cities, sticking to its original name and clinging to retro styling cues.

The 2012 Volkswagen Beetle will be on display this week at the 2011 New York Auto Show and the 2011 Shanghai Auto Show, and will go on sale in the U.S. in September. Pricing was not announced.

For months, there was rampant media speculation that the iconic Beetle might be rechristened and feature some startling design cues — even though VW teased a silhouette of the Beetle that could have served as an advertisement for the 1949 model. But all that was laid to rest as the German automaker took the wraps off the 2012 Beetle, explaining in a statement that it "wanted to develop the new car around the earliest Beetle profile rather than the 1998 New Beetle."

The cautious design tweaks include a lower profile and a front windshield that is shifted farther back. The new Beetle is 3.3 inches wider and 6 inches longer than the outgoing model. It is 71.2 inches wide and 168.4 inches long. Volkswagen said in a statement that the redesign was intended to free the Beetle from "the design geometry defined by three semi-circles (front wing, rear wing, domed roof above it). Insiders referred to this as the "Mickey Mouse" look, since it seemed to borrowed from the three circles used to create the face of the famed cartoon character.

In other noteworthy design elements, the 2012 Beetle with the 2.0-liter TSI engine gets a standard rear spoiler. VW said the 20112 Beetle will come with "a large number of personalization options, including a wide variety of colors and wraps, along with an annual theme model."

Even the cabin of the 2012 Volkswagen Beetle draws upon elements from the original Beetle. For instance, the new Beetle has an extra glovebox integrated into the dash. It also features a split-folding rear seat.

Volkswagen of America said in a statement that the 2012 Beetle will offer three engines: a 170-horsepower 2.5-liter gasoline five-cylinder engine, a 140-hp 2.0-liter four-cylinder TDI clean diesel engine and a 200-hp 2.0-liter four-cylinder TSI turbocharged gasoline engine. Transmission choices include a five-speed manual or an optional six-speed automatic on 2.5-liter models. The DSG six-speed dual-clutch transmission will be an option on the TDI and 2.0-liter TSI models.

The 2012 Beetle TDI model will be the fuel-economy leader, according to VW. It is expected to return 29 mpg in city driving and 40 mpg on the highway. The EPA has not yet rated the 2012 Beetle. The 2.5-liter Beetle is estimated to return 22 mpg in city driving and 31 mpg on the highway, said Volkswagen. The sporty 2.0-liter TSI Beetle is expected to return 30 mpg on the highway, said Volkswagen. It did not provide a city rating for the sporty model.

The 2012 Volkswagen Beetle will be available in two trim lines: Design and Sport. Options will include a Fender Premium audio system, panoramic roof, and bi-xenon headlights.

The reason for the conservative design approach can probably be found in Volkswagen's statistics on the original Beetle. It said it sold nearly 5 million original Beetles in the U.S. alone between 1949-'79. In comparison, it sold 477,347 New Beetles in the U.S. from 1998-2010. Volkswagen said it has built more than 22.5 million Beetles worldwide since the car's inception.

The 2012 Beetle arrives in North America first, followed by a market launch in Europe in October and Asia in February 2012.

Edmunds.com says: The 2012 Volkswagen Beetle is sure to resonate with Baby Boomers, but will it speak to their children and grandchildren? — Anita Lienert, Correspondent

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