First Look: 2012 Volkswagen Beetle
The newness continues inside with an interior Volkswagen says will have "a quality of materials that goes beyond all class limits," but, given the new Jetta, we'll withhold judgment until we've seen them in person. The dashboard features a painted or "carbon-look" finish and can be topped off with optional auxiliary gauges above the radio including oil temperature, boost pressure gauge, and clock with built-in stopwatch. The radio below them will be a single-CD eight-speaker unit to start, with an upgraded module available featuring a touch screen, SD card reader, and CD changer. That touch screen can be upgraded with a navigation system for the first time in a Beetle. Also available is the Fender Premium audio system recently added to the Jetta, with a 400-watt subwoofer and high-end speakers.
Also on the docket is a glass panoramic tilt-and-slide sunroof that's 80-percent larger than before, and keyless entry and starting, another Beetle first. That new rear end discussed earlier means a larger 10.9 cubic-foot cargo area, which can be further expanded by the split-folding rear seats. As you might expect, safety is taken seriously with standard stability control, dual front airbags, and front and rear side curtain airbags. Even your wallet will be safe with free maintenance for the first three years or 36,000 miles. Whether your sanity will be safe from trim levels named "Design" and "Sport" is another matter.
All in all, the new Beetle is a refreshing reinterpretation of the unmistakable car. At first glance, it's less Sweet 16 and more just-graduated-from-college, a more faithful interpretation of the original and a car for 2012, not 1998. More important[, it appears to address its predecessor's most glaring faults and with any luck, the larger footprint will mean better handling on top of better interior space. The last Beetle was a certified hit, still selling strong more than 10 years after its debut. If this one's as improved as Volkswagen says, we wouldn't bet against a repeat.