Wolfsburg / Shanghai / Berlin / New York – When the first Beetle rolled off the production line, it was called simply the Volkswagen — “the people’s car” — but its distinctive shape inspired nicknames across the globe: Beetle, Käfer, Vocho, Coccinelle, Fusca, Maggiolino or ???! In total, 21.5 million cars were sold.
More than 60 years later, in 1998, the “New Beetle” rekindled the spirit and imagination of the original to a new generation of Volkswagen owners. The second generation version sparked another round of uplifting and joyous enthusiasm known as Beetle Mania.
Today, the Beetle opens a new chapter in its remarkable story. The third generation of the internationally beloved Beetle is celebrating a transcontinental world debut simultaneously in Shanghai, Berlin and New York.
Updating an icon
Only someone who knows and respects the Beetle’s heritage could produce a new generation of this storied vehicle. The task for Volkswagen engineers was clear. They had to develop a modern interpretation of the Beetle, with all the benefits of today’s technologies and efficiencies, and the driving characteristics that define the Volkswagen brand. The result had to remain affordable and stay true to the Beetle’s spirit and great heritage.
The design of the new Beetle presented another challenge. How does one reinvent a look that is so recognizable and unique? Volkswagen Group Design Chief Walter de Silva and Volkswagen Brand Design Chief, Klaus Bischoff, welcomed the task and set an ambitious objective: “Design a new original!”
The designers wanted to develop the new car around the earliest Beetle profile rather than the 1998 New Beetle. They wanted a car that respects the past but looks toward the future. And that is what they created.
The 2012 Beetle is an automotive icon reinvented. Placing the original Beetle and the 21st Century Beetle next to one another, it’s clear that the lines of the rear sections are nearly identical, but the overall look is bolder and more dynamic. The Beetle also breaks free of the design geometry defined by three semi-circles (front wing, rear wing, domed roof above it).
"The Beetle is now characterized by a clean, self-confident and dominant sportiness. The car not only has a lower profile; it is also substantially wider, the front hood is longer, the front windshield is shifted further back and has a much steeper incline. All of this creates a new dynamism,” explains Klaus Bischoff.
The 2012 Beetle is 71.2 inches wide (3.3 inches wider), 58.5 inches tall (.5 inches lower) and 168.4 inches long (6 inches longer). The new focal point is the C-pillar. The development team also increased the car’s track widths and wheelbase. All of this gives the Beetle a powerful appearance with muscular tension.
Another feature is the rear spoiler that is integrated into the design (standard on 2.0L TSI engines with 200 hp). The top surface of the rear spoiler is black, while the underside is painted in body color.
The Beetle is sportier, offering both turbo-charged TDI® Clean Diesel and turbo-charged gasoline engines, in addition to dual exhaust, performance-handling packages, 19-inch wheels, sport seats and new, sleeker styling. Volkswagen will offer a panoramic roof, a range of audio options, including the Fender® Premium Audio System, and a customization program for the 2012 Beetle with a large number of personalization options, including a wide variety of colors and wraps along with an annual theme model.
The 21st Century Beetle offers an agile, driver-oriented coupe experience with a quality of materials that goes beyond all class limits. The car’s styling, ergonomics and quality interact to create a new, friendly car with a highly individual nature.
The shape and use of color in the painted or carbon-look dashboards harkens back to the design of the first Beetle.
Three round instrument gauges are arranged in front of the driver (tachometer, speedometer, fuel gauge) providing all key information at a glance. A multifunction display is integrated in the speedometer in middle position. The steering wheel is specially designed with optional painted accents in the spokes depending on the equipment line.
Framed by two air vents, the selected audio/navigation system is optimally located in the driver’s visual field on the dashboard. Within easy reach, climate controls are situated just below.
Similar to the original Beetle, the new car has an extra glove box integrated into the dash. The lid folds upward, while the standard glove box opens downward. Another classic feature: the optional auxiliary instruments above the selected audio/navigation system: oil temperature, clock with stopwatch function and boost pressure gauge.
The “cathedral ceiling” dome roof of the New Beetle has been replaced with a sleek and sporty roofline. Front and rear passenger headroom remains plentiful. In the rear seating area, the longer roof section results in more space. The trunk is significantly larger, offering 10.9 cubic feet of space. A split-folding rear seat and a wide opening trunk lid ease loading and unloading.
Engine and Transmission
The 2012 Beetle will offer three engines: the 2.5L gasoline five cylinder, the 2.0L TDI® Clean Diesel and the 2.0L TSI® turbocharged gasoline engine. Transmission choices will include a 5-speed manual or optional 6-speed automatic on 2.5L models. Volkswagen’s acclaimed DSG® 6-speed dual-clutch transmission will be offered on the TDI Clean Diesel and 2.0L TSI turbocharged gasoline models, while a 6-speed manual will come standard.
The 2012 Beetle 2.0L TDI Clean Diesel is the most fuel-efficient Beetle ever. The quiet, four cylinder 2.0L TDI Clean Diesel engine produces 140 hp and 236 lb.-ft of torque. It meets all U.S. emission limits and offers manufacturer estimates of 40 mpg highway, 29 mpg city, and 33 mpg combined.
Fuel economy values are also improved up to 10 percent over prior 2.5L five cylinder engine models. Mated to a 5-speed manual transmission, it offers manufacturer estimates of 22 mpg city and 31 mpg highway. The optional 6-speed automatic offers manufacturer estimates of 22 mpg city, 29 mpg highway. The five cylinder engine produces 170 hp and 177 lb.-ft of torque.
The Beetle 2.0L TSI is the sportiest model offered. With 200 hp and 207 lb.-ft of torque, power delivery will remain smooth and direct across the rpm range. The four cylinder turbo engine is estimated to provide 30 mpg highway fuel economy. To ensure that power is applied properly in challenging conditions, the 2.0L TSI model features the XDS® cross differential (limited-slip) system. The system electronically monitors input from various wheel sensors and, in the event of slippage, transfers extra torque to the wheel or wheels with the most traction.
The 2012 Volkswagen Beetle will be available in two trim lines “Design” and “Sport.” Each has a unique character. The Beetle can also be customized with a wide choice of optional features. Key features include:
Radio-CD and radio-navigation systems. Standard in the Beetle is the RCD 310 sound system with 8 speakers (includes dual tuner). The premium VIII top audio system is the RCD 510 with integrated CD changer, interface for SD cards and touchscreen. For the first time ever, navigation will be offered in the Beetle, with the RNS 315 featuring a 5-inch touchscreen, CD player and SD card slot.
Panoramic roof. The transparent, panoramic tilt/slide glass sunroof is 80 percent larger than on the previous model. The insulating glass blocks 99 percent of UV radiation and 92 percent of heat energy.
Fender Premium Audio System. The 2012 Beetle will also offer concert quality sound with an optional Fender Premium Audio System equipped with an additional subwoofer and 400 watts of output power. Embedded in the vehicle design is proprietary Panasonic® speaker technology. The system covers the cabin with directional sound from front door speakers that generate imaging beyond the capabilities of traditional speaker designs. It cuts through the noise and other distractions with front dual voice coil speakers, with extended range for all musical genres. Those choosing this sound system also receive adjustable interior ambiance lighting.
Keyless Access. Volkswagen’s automatic keyless entry and starting system, which allows the driver to operate without a door or ignition key, is appearing for the first time in the Beetle. When one of the front door handles is touched, the system detects access authorization from a transmitter, then unlocks the Beetle and starts the engine with the push of a button.
BI-XENON headlights and LED daytime running lights. For the first time, the Beetle will be offered with Bi-xenon headlights. These will be available on future Beetle models, framing the xenon module on the outer perimeters of the headlights and serving as the daytime running lights and parking lights.
The 2012 Beetle features both active and passive safety. It includes Volkswagen’s advanced Intelligent Crash Response System, which initiates automatic safety protection in some types of collisions — the electrical supply to the fuel pump is shut off, the doors unlock and the hazard lights switch on. Electronic Stability Control (ESC) is standard, as are driver and front passenger airbags and Side Curtain Protection® airbags in front and rear.
The 21st Century Beetle is also covered under the no-charge Carefree Maintenance Program. All scheduled maintenance is covered for the length of the New Vehicle Warranty – three years or 36,000 miles, whichever occurs first. Additionally, all current Volkswagen vehicles use synthetic oil, which, when combined with state-of-the-art German engineering, eliminates the need for a 5,000 mile oil change, and allows owners to go farther between scheduled oil changes.
Key facts summary:
Name: The Beetle
World debut: April 18, 2011
Market launch, North America: September / October 2011
Market launch, Europe: October / November 2011
Market launch, Asia: February 2012
Equipment lines: “Design” and “Sport”
Engine specifications: 2.5L 5-cylinder (170hp/177lbs.-ft); 2.0L TDI (140hp/236lbs.-ft); 2.0L TSI (200 hp/207 lbs.-ft)
All US engines fulfil BIN5 / ULEV PZEV
Fuel economy (combined) USA: 33 mpg* (2.0 TDI® Clean Diesel) [Manufacturer’s estimate. EPA estimates not available at time of publication.]
Designers: Walter de Silva (Group), Klaus Bischoff (Brand), Exterior: Marc Lichte (team leader), Cris Lesmana, Nisan Kucam. Interior: Tomasz Bachorski (team leader), Ingo Brückmann. Colour and trim: Oona Scheepers (team leader), Susanne Gerken
Exterior dimensions: 168.4 in. Length; 72.1 in. Width; 58.5 in. Height; 99.8 in. Wheelbase
Original Beetle US sales: 1949 – 1979
Total Original Beetle US sales: 4,988,350
New Beetle US sales: 1998 – 2010
Total New Beetle US sales: 477,347
Total units built to date worldwide: more than 22.5 million