Beetle grows and adds muscle

  • 25-Apr-2011 12:35 EDT

The 2012 Volkswagen Beetle has been styled to appeal to a greater male audience.

The 2012 Volkswagen Beetle, which made a nearly simultaneous debut this week in New York City, Berlin, and Shanghai, has some familiar design cues from the preceding model. However, it is noticeably larger, styled and engineered to go beyond its largely feminine appeal to reach a greater male audience.

The re-engineering consists of giving the new version a GTI performance treatment, with availability of a 200-hp (149-kW) 2.0-L gasoline turbo engine. It and the 2.0-L turbodiesel are both equipped with a six-speed manual or six-speed dual-shift gearbox. This turbo gasoline engine is new for the Beetle, and although the Beetle also once had a four-cylinder diesel, this 2012 application is its first use of the clean diesel technology version. The engine is rated at 140 hp (104 kW), 236 lb·ft (321 N·m), and will have U.S. EPA fuel economy numbers of 40 mpg highway/29 mpg city (33 mpg combined).

The turbo gasoline option includes the XDS limited slip differential on the front-drive axle, an adaptation from the GTI turbo. It is a multidisc clutch type, with application pressure electronically controlled for side-to-side torque distribution.

The base engine continues to be the 2.5-L five-cylinder rated at 170 hp (127 kW) and labeled a “cruiser” by a VW executive, with either a five-speed manual or six-speed automatic.

The chassis was retuned with a wider track to provide a GTI-like handling experience, particularly important for the gasoline turbo edition.

Indicative of the more masculine styling philosophy is the availability of 19-in wheels (17-in is base and 18-in is a “first option"). Also a sign of the attempt to appeal to more male buyers is that the Beetle will be one of the vehicles in the Volkswagen line with a Fender Premium Audio System, a nine-speaker design co-developed with Panasonic. The base system is an RCD 310 with eight speakers, and for the first time, a navigation system will be available in a Beetle, incorporating a 5-in touch screen and SD card slot.

Headlights are Bi-xenon, and daytime running lights are LED.

Although VW will not provide complete specifications at this time, AEI has obtained the following combination of official numbers and estimates. Wheelbase is increased 1.1 in (28 mm) to 99.8 (2535 mm). Overall length goes up over 6 in (152 mm) to 168.4 in (4277 mm). Width increases 3.3 in (84 mm) to 71.2 (1808 mm). Curb mass for the larger vehicle is up 150 lb (68 kg) to 3034 (1376 kg).

Most of the increased size provides a larger cargo area (increased almost 30% to 10.9 ft3 (284 L). Although the car height was reduced 0.5 in (13 mm) to 58.5 (1486 mm), the change in the roofline results in some increased rear headroom, explained Klaus Bischoff, VW brand design chief.

All Beetles are made in VW’s Mexican plant, and the 2012 model will go on sale this fall.

The car will remain available only as a two-door coupe and forthcoming convertible. No hybrid or electric vehicle versions are being considered.

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