iPhone, meet Beetle; Beetle, meet iPhone. That seems to be the premise of the new 2014 Volkswagen iBeetle, which debuts this week at the Shanghai Motor Show before going on sale in the U.S. early next year.
The iBeetle earns its name by way of a horizontal iPhone dock mounted atop the dashboard. Snap your iPhone into the dock, and your smartphone charges while functioning as an audio device, navigation system, and more. Volkswagen plans on pairing the dock with a new “Beetle App,” which has several social media-friendly functions. Some – like Spotify radio streaming or a text-to-voice reader for Facebook and SMS messages – are fairly typical, but others offer a little bit of whimsy.
“Expert” mode offers up additional instrumentation, including a G-meter, chronometer, and both oil and coolant temperature gauges. “Trainer” mode compares driving times and estimated fuel consumption for various routes between two points. “Postcard” sends your iBeetle’s location out to friends as a “digital postcard,” while “Photo” takes pictures inside the car and posts them online (avoid using this function if you eat in the car). Once you exit the car and take the phone out of the dock, a “Milestones” function awards badges for various accomplishments – perfect for stoking your social media ego.
Apart from the dock and Beetle app, iBeetles also receive a few cosmetic tweaks. Hoping to make the Beetle’s exterior look a little more iPhone-esque, designers limited exterior color choices to grey, silver, two shades of white, and two shades of black. Rocker moldings are chromed to emulate the wrap-around band of the white iPhone, while other exterior trim parts – notably the rockers and mirror housings -- are painted in a contrasting grey color. Steering wheel and dash trim are painted a matching “Galvano Grey,” and the iBeetle also gains black sport seats with light accents, black door sills, and a new shift knob.
The iBeetle will be offered in both coupe and cabriolet forms, and Volkswagen of America officials have confirmed the iBeetle will be sold in North America. Here, the iBeetle will be a limited-edition model, but a precise volume limit – along with pricing – is still up in the air. Engine options are another mystery. At the time of publication, officials didn’t know what engine offering(s) the iBeetle would be sold with in North America. Presently, the Beetle is sold in the U.S. with a 170-hp, 2.5-liter I-5; a 200-hp, turbocharged 2.0-liter I-4; or a 140-hp, 2.0-liter turbo-diesel I-4.