Two concepts in one: it shows the new VW Beetle cabriolet and VW's electric powertrain
9 January 2012

This is the Volkswagen E-Bugster concept, which has been launched at the Detroit motor show. It is, in fact, two concepts in one, being both a slightly exaggerated concept version of the upcoming second generation Beetle cabriolet and the debut of the electric drivetrain destined to be used by the wider Golf family from 2013.

The E-Bugster is 90mm lower and 30mm wider than the production Beetle hatchback but retains the same length. The concept has been laid out as a strict two-seater, with the battery pack positioned behind the front seats.

The exterior styling, with a cut-down windscreen, low hard-top and shallow side windows, are all direct references to the classic southern California hot rod look.

This concept also gets bespoke bumper designs, incorporating the large C-shaped LED running lights first seen on the electric version of the Up city car. Extended wings accommodate 20-inch wheels and 235/35 tyres.

Inside, pressing the start button begins a light show that immerses the interior first in blue light, then white light, followed by pulsing lights from the instrument cluster. This then turns into a light strip just 1mm high that runs around the vents and along the door trims.

Under the skin, VW says its new electric drivetrain, which uses an 85kW motor and a 28.3kWh battery pack, can sprint to 60mph in 10.9sec and has a range of “at least 110 miles in urban conditions”. The system also gets a new electronic control module which VW says is unusually light at just 80kg.

It also uses a new ‘Combined Charging System’, which has been developed by the German car industry in conjunction with Ford and allows the battery pack to be charged by various types of electricity supply, although VW says the car industry also needs to come up with a common plug connector. In any case, an ultra-fast DC charge of the battery should take just 35 minutes.

Our Verdict

Volkswagen Beetle
The Beetle will so often be bought on the basis of its looks. It is certainly more attractive than the old 'new Beetle'

The Volkswagen Beetle is only the third all-new model since the original launched in 1938. It is based on the Mk6 Golf, but the base car is far better

Join the debate


10 January 2012

The exterior styling, with a cut-down windscreen, low hard-top and shallow side windows, are all direct references to the classic southern California hot rod look.

That was my first impression, I love it!

Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • 2016 Audi A3 Sportback e-tron UK review
    First Drive
    29 September 2016
    First UK drive finds the facelifted A3 Sportback e-tron remains a first-rate plug-in hybrid that is packed with tech if a little short on driver appeal
  • Citroen C11.2 Puretech 82 Furio
    First Drive
    29 September 2016
    Citroën's city car gets a new sporty-looking trim level, adding visual adornments, but no premium for the 1.2-litre Puretech triple we're driving
  • Mercedes C350e Sport
    First Drive
    28 September 2016
    Petrol-electric C-Class is a surprisingly well-priced alternative to a diesel but not the greatest example of the new ‘PHEV’ breed
  • Car review
    23 September 2016
    Aston kicks off its ‘second century plan’ with an all-new turbo V12 grand tourer
  • Ford Ka+ 1.2 Ti-VCT 85
    First Drive
    22 September 2016
    A rounded, refined and well-sorted bargain supermini – once you’re used to the confusing role redefinition imposed on the once-cheeky Ka