2011 Volkswagen New Beetle - New New Beetle

Autobild/Huckfeldt

Volkswagen's New Beetle never could have equaled the performance of its predecessor - the original Beetle sold 21.5 million units over fifty-eight years - but, in modern terms at least, its eleven-year run has been a long one. First introduced in 1998, the New Beetle initially met with great fanfare (in the United States, if not in Germany), but by 2009, sales dropped to an all-time low of fewer than 15,000 units in the U.S. So the marketing strategists have decided to pull the plug, effective this summer.

The car's sales, however, were still good enough to earn an encore. The new New Beetle is due to appear in spring 2011 and will, like its predecessor, be built in Puebla, Mexico. It will adopt suspension components from the last-generation Golf. U.S. buyers will choose from three familiar engines: a 2.5-liter five-cylinder (170 hp), a 2.0-liter turbo unit (200 hp), and a 2.0-liter turbo-diesel (140 hp). Transmission choices will include manuals and dual-clutch automatics with up to seven speeds.

The new version grows by 3.5 inches in length and sports a flatter roofline, a more upright windshield, a wider track, and a reduced front overhang. The extended rear end accommodates a larger cargo area, and the roomier passenger compartment offers more headroom. The overall shape is reminiscent of the Ragster concept from the 2005 Detroit auto show. The cabriolet retains the old-fashioned stacked roof (when lowered). A speedster spin-off is under consideration for the midcycle update.

Things get more interesting when we look further out, to the third-generation car due around 2017. That version could see the Bug return to its boxer-engine roots, given some cooperation from Porsche. Porsche has proposed a new horizontally opposed four-cylinder engine for use in its upcoming entry-level model and as a base engine in the Boxster/Cayman. Four years ago, when VW chief Martin Winterkorn approached Porsche's then-CEO Wendelin Wiedeking seeking to use that boxer engine for a sporty variant of the New Beetle, Wiedeking refused. Just recently, though, Winterkorn again went to Zuffenhausen, obviously in a much stronger position now that the VW Group controls Porsche. If Winterkorn gets the small boxer engine this time, it would become the mainstay powerplant for the third-generation car, which would switch to a rear-wheel-drive, mid-engine layout. How's that for a metamorphosis?

The Beetle's Metamorphosis

ONE WILD CONCEPT
Initiated in secret at VW's California design studio by J Mays and Freeman Thomas, the Concept One proved to be a smash hit at the 1994 Detroit auto show. But our own design editor, Robert Cumberford, sniffed: "At least in space inefficiency, the Concept One is true to its origins." Still, even he had to admit, "It's a wonderful show car." As to its production potential, Cumberford's assessment proved highly prescient, saying, "Were it to be put into production as it is, there would no doubt be a surge of buyers who would take a couple-hundred thousand of them in the first year or two, and then an abrupt falloff."

cincipatty
I love my 2001 VW New Beetle. I think the main attraction of the Beetle is it's "round" look. That's what makes it unique! To flatten the roof is stupid - then it looks too similar to the rest of the boring looking cars out there. I live in Ohio and we've had a bit more snow than usual this year. Because of my car's round design, it is SO MUCH EASIER to clean off the snow than the other cars/trucks we've owned. Just washing it is faster because of the round design. The huge windshield is wonderful in all the New Beetles EXCEPT for the 2011. After getting used to the large windshield and the huge view of everything, all other cars make me feel too confined. I was going to buy a 2011 VW New Beetle for myself this year, and give my 2001 VW Beetle to my teenage son. When I saw the "new look" of the 2011, I said "forget it, I hate it." I'm going to wait until 2012, and hopefully, they will have gone back to the round design by then. If not, I'll either buy a 2010 model or older, or another type of car altogether.
whiterg57
If I could talk with Mr. Winterkorn, I'd say: Absolutely! Go for it! Get that boxer engine and put it under the back seat. While you're at it, keep the weight down, under 2400 pounds, keep the drag co-efficient down, under .30, and keep the price down, under $20,000 in the U.S. at today's price levels. Producing and seliing a car like that, with high quality and a low frequency of repair, would be a great service to the public, and I think that you would be amply rewarded for it.
monoblocks
Stylistically it's going in the right direction, but the engine's still in the WRONG location, regardless of whether it's a boxer or not. Making the Gen3 NB into a mid-engine car is just STUPID; what do they expect this descendant of the 'people's car' to compete with, a Lotus Elise or Porsche Cayman?
eLOCO
I went on holiday to Puebla, Mexico. and there I saw the New Beetle, on evidence that they made him!
MITSUMAN1
LOVE THE DESIGN! JUST HOPE VW WONT OVERPRICE THIS VW LIKE THEY HAVE EVERYTHING THEY GET THEIR HANDS ON!ILL TAKE ONE IN WHITE WITH THE 200HP 6SPD MANUAL TOO BUT NOT FOR 25K OR MORE, PLUS IF THEY DONT SELL WELL ITS BECAUSE VW HAS OVERPRICED THEM HOW GREEDY!
tumbleweed2
I like this design. I always considered the current new beetle as a girlie car except for the short lived Turbo S. This seems to be a more viable choice for men who might be in the market for something like the Mini Cooper S. I'll take mine in silver with the 200 horse turbo 4 and a 6 speed.
fmaxwell
Hate it. The original Golf was all about economical, styling-be-damned practicality. This is just the opposite: A styling exercise to create an overpriced, impractical car. This new one will make less of a splash than the prior "New Beetle" and I predict that it will have a short production run. The closest thing to the original Beetle today is the smart fortwo. It's rear-engined, rear wheel drive, doesn't look like anything else on the road, is cheap to buy and cheap to fill up. Performance is adequate (okay, it's got a lot better performance than the original VW Beetle). Like the original Beetle, it's under 1800lbs. It's a german-engineered car, and, like the Beetle, takes innovative engineering approaches compared to conventional cars (plastic, easily replaceable body panels, automated manual transmission with paddle shifters, whole drivetrain removes with rear suspension as a unit, etc.).
DirtyDevan
The orgianl Beetle had the engine in the Back. New Version was in Front like any usual car. They said in 2007 that the engine will back like orginal. But I perfere it in front agine.
KaBoomBOX
I like that it looks like a Beetle, without being too cute, like the current model.
gmhonda
Wow, this looks like a hotrod beetle! Nice.

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