Currently reading: Shanghai motor show 2011: VW Beetle
First new version of the Beetle in 13-years retains its predecessor's looks, but every part is new

Volkswagen is giving the latest version of its ‘world car’, the Beetle, a global launch this week, with simultaneous reveals at the Shanghai and New York shows, plus an event in Berlin.

The latest car builds on the semi-retro ‘New Beetle’, which was introduced in 1998 and accounted for more than a million sales before it was finally discontinued last year.

So while VW states that every part has been remade, its lines still stick closely to those of the original Volkswagen, which has sold over 20 million units.

See the official pics of the new VW Beetle - now updated with Shanghai show pics

The new car is 1.808m wide, 1.486m tall and 4.278m long; that’s 84mm wider, 12mm lower and 152mm longer than the outgoing version, and considerably wider and longer than a Golf.

Designed under the direction of VW Group design chief Walter de’Silva and VW brand design boss Klaus Bischoff, the Beetle gets sharper, squarer bumpers, and a more rakish roofline.

VW likens the latter to the roof of the Ragster, a hot-rot-esque concept first shown in 2005.

Read stories on all the Shanghai motor show stars

New features for the Beetle include LED daytime running lights, bi-xenon headlights, an integrated rear spoiler, and larger wheels (up to 19in will be available).

The engine options will be three turbocharged petrol units, with 103bhp (1.2), 158bhp (1.4) and 197bhp (2.0), and a pair of turbodiesels with 103bhp (1.6) and 138bhp (2.0).

VW’s seven-speed dual-clutch transmission will be offered as an option; in the mid-spec petrol it returns 47.9mpg and emits 139g/km of CO2. But the greenest petrol model will be the 1.2; equipped with stop-start and battery regeneration, it will return 51.4mpg and emit 129g/km CO2.

The diesels manage 65.7mpg and 112g/km (1.6), and 57.6mpg and 129g/km (2.0).

See spy pics of the new VW Beetle in testing

The most potent petrol variant can reach 129mph. It and the 1.6 TSI get VW’s electronic differential lock, which brakes to stop the unloaded inside wheel from spinning during cornering.

Cabin-oriented features include a choice of sat-navs (the first time navigation has been available on a Beetle), a premium sound system developed with guitar and amplifier manufacturer Fender, keyless access, and a panoramic glass roof that’s 80 per cent larger than the item offered on the previous model.

However, the dashboard-mounted flower vase - one of the 1998 model’s most distinguishing features - has been dropped, giving the Beetle’s fascia a more conventional look.

Back to top

The new Beetle will be built at VW’s Puebla plant in Mexico, alongside the Jetta, with which it shares a platform. UK dealers will start taking orders for the car this summer, with the first deliveries expected early next year. A convertible version is already under development; it’ll go on sale later in 2012.

John McIlroy

See all the latest VW Beetle reviews, news and video

Add a comment…