Volkwagen’s venerable Beetle is finally shedding its skin and is becoming a new vehicle. After 14 years, the rounded, surprisingly sprightly VW Beetle has received new lines. Oh, you’ll still be able to identify the Beetle by its lines, but the lines are now flatter and the overall outline has tightened up.
VW officials, who presided at the unveiling of the new Beetle, noted that they are trying to attract more men to the VW market, but I’d have to rate that as a crap shoot as a Beetle is still a Beetle and for some reason or other guys are more interested in the Subaru WRX STI than they are in the Beetle R.
Actually, VW has done a nice job with the resulting. The front end is still unmistakably Beetle, but the fender flares are less bulbous and the lights are fared nicely into the front end.
The hood still slopes away from the windshield and it still forms an individual design element, instead of an integrated element, it forms a distinct piece of the front end. The low-riding air intake/grille is surrounded by the bumper with the lower piece serving as a valance. Fog lights, if you order them, are fared into the air intake at either side.
As for the rest of the Beetle, if you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all. About the only real different you’ll not, aside from more aggressive – read than manlier – wheels and smaller rear quarters that are also less bulbous, is the roofline which is flatter and the stance which is squarer.
The rear hatchback remains although trunk space has been increased to 10.9 cubic-feet.
And, while we haven’t been able to put our hands on a new Beetle just yet – here’s another one that will have to wait for a bit – we do know that there are three trim levels: Design, Sport and R Trim and there are three engine choices, the standard 170-horsepower, 2.5-liter inline five-cylinder; a turbocharged 2-liter four-banger that turns out 200 horsepower (it’s the engine you’ll find in the Golf GTi and the Jetta GLi and a TDI diesel. The transmission choices are both six-speeds, one an automatic and the other a manual. The automatic is one that will let you shift the Beetle on the by paddle.
Since they are trying to move into the performance market there are some interesting styling changes in the cockpit. The steering wheel is beefier and the Sport has a set of gauges that sit on top of the instrument panel, giving the cockpit a very sporty look.
I will say that in any of the Beetles I have driven in the recent past have been excellent handlers and they have been surprisingly nimble. VW also has an interesting upshift light that indicates when they think you should be upshifting, if you are in the “shift it yourself” crowd, however, you’ll also notice that when you reach a certain point a governor cuts in and you have to upshift.
From what I’ve seen of the new Beetle, it is a nice restyle and does update it but whether it will pull more of a male demographic remains to be seen.