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2012 Volkswagen Beetle Turbo: Driven

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When the New Beetle arrived, back in 1998, it elicited waves of nostalgia from Baby Boomers who had owned the old air-cooled Beetles, and loved what they had come to symbolize. At the time of the New Beetle's launch, it was exactly what they wanted—a vehicle that carried forward the iconic image but rolled on a modern front-wheel drive layout and packed plenty of comforts and conveniences.

Unfortunately, that kind of intense, universal nostalgia only lasted a couple of years. After that—no matter what, it seemed—the New Beetle was a chick car. And the flower vase and soft contouring inside probably didn't help.

Now for 2012, the Beetle is back, completely redesigned, and while it's still very much a niche car, it's one that a typical American male won't be embarrassed to drive. In fact, it's one that's quite enjoyable to drive.

No more cute and cuddly, no more flower power

You might chuckle, but it takes only a passing glance to see that designers have tamped down the Beetle's feel-good, cute-and-cuddly side, instead focusing back to the original air-cooled Beetles and then bringing out the brawnier side of the Bug. It's roughly the same size, but all the lines are redrawn and the proportions are completely different. At first look, the new car looks a lot lower than the previous version. But the roofline is only a half-inch lower; it's the product of six inches of additional length and about three and a half inches more width.

In short, this is not a tweaked version of the previous New Beetle. Volkswagen has gone back to the original air-cooled Beetle and penned a new New Beetle—only this time they're only calling it the Beetle.

And it really does look a bit more like a sports car than before; we see just a little bit of Porsche 356 Speedster from some angles, and it definitely bears some likeness to the Audi TT Coupe.

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