2012 Volkswagen Beetle Bows At New York Auto Show

April 18, 2011

With a goal to “design a new original,” Volkswagen designers dove into the design process to create an instantly recognizable, yet wholly-new iteration of the classic Beetle. Consumers will be able to judge for themselves with the debut of the all-new 2012 Volkswagen Beetle two-door hatchback during its simultaneous Shanghai-New York-Berlin press introductions this week.

Another clue that this isn’t just a warmed-over redesign of the New Beetle (which bowed in 1998), is the name of the third-generation model: Beetle. No more “New” Beetle.

With the design intent firmly fixed – “design a new original” -- this third-generation Beetle wouldn’t be a mere return to its roots (the original Beetle launched in 1938), but a re-interpretation, it seems, of what made the original Beetle a worldwide icon. This all-new Beetle would also have to be affordable, integrate the latest communication technology, and have the lowest achievable environmental impact.

To-date, more than 22.5 million Beetles have been sold globally. Of that total, 21.5 million were the original Beetle.

What’s new in the new Beetle

According to Volkswagen Design Chief Walter de Silva (Volkswagen Group) and Klaus Bischoff head (Volkswagen Brand), they “remade every part” of the Volkswagen Beetle. The new design is “more masculine,” as evidenced by its lower profile, substantial increase in width, and steeper incline. The roof profile can be considered a continuation of the Ragster concept car shown at the 2005 Detroit auto show.

Even though the design of the third-generation Beetle is unique, there’s evidence of the Volkswagen design DNA influenced by Beetle, the Microbus and the original Golf. Traditional Beetle characteristics can still be seen in the round headlights, flared wings, shape of the bonnet, sides, door sills and larger wheels (up to 19 inches).

Offered in three trims, Beetle, Design and Sport, the 2012 Volkswagen Beetle is longer, wider and lower than its predecessor. The gen-three Beetle is 168.4 inches in length (5.98 inches longer), 71.2 inches in width (3.3 inches wider), and 58.5 inches in height (0.1 inch lower). This results in the C-pillar being the new focal point.

Inside, Volkswagen designers took to heart the criticism of the New Beetle’s interior, opting to create a more driver-oriented cockpit where everything is within grasp and sight. Indeed, the Volkswagen press release says “Volkswagen drivers will be able to locate every interior feature with their eyes closed.”

More new features

More optional features will be available in the 2012 Beetle to customize any of the three trims.

  • Bi-xenon headlights with LED daytime running lights are offered for the first time on the Beetle.
  • A transparent panoramic sunroof that can be tilted or opened is 80 percent larger than on the predecessor, yet still blocks 99 percent UV radiation and 92 percent of heat energy.
  • Radio-CD and radio-navigation systems include the standard RCD 310 eight-speaker radio with dual tuner and top RCD 510 with integrated CD-changer, SD card slot and dual tuner, while the top radio-navigation system is the RNS 510 with 6.5-inch touchscreen, DVD player, voice control, SD card slot and 30-Gigabyte hard drive.
  • The world-renowned Fender premium sound system, with 400 watts and woofer, will be available as an option in the 2012 Beetle. Customers ordering the Fender option will also get adjustable interior ambient lighting.
  • Keyless access will be available for the first time in the Beetle.
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