A second generation of Volkswagen’s reborn Beetle will be launched next year with more focus on dynamics and less on retro styling.
To be previewed as a concept at the Los Angeles motor show in November, the production Beetle will go on sale in the UK in May 2011. A cabriolet will follow about a year later.
As with today’s Beetle, the car will be assembled at VW’s Puebla plant in Mexico, alongside the next Jetta. The two cars share their front-drive underpinnings and some driveline combinations.
This gives the Beetle a reworked chassis with wider tracks and a longer wheelbase than today’s model. Insiders are confident it will better the current Beetle’s dynamics, with a more compliant ride.
Suspension is MacPherson struts at the front and a torsion beam at the rear. However, the 210bhp 2.0-litre range-topper will have a multi-link rear to improve handling.
We’ve yet to see how VW’s design team has chosen to update the Beetle, but sources close to design boss Klaus Bischoff indicate that the 2005 Ragster concept provides hints.
Describing the new car’s design, one VW insider said, “It is more contoured, with additional structuring and defined feature lines used to help to break up the simple surfacing and unadorned character of the current model.”
The new Beetle will have a similar roofline to the Ragster’s. “The screen angles are less extreme and the roof structure is less rounded than it is at the moment,” said our source.
But much of the design will continue to draw heavily on the original Beetle, with rounded headlights and tail-lamps, separate wings over each wheel and a high waistline.
Volkswagen has also developed a much wider range of exterior options for the Beetle. “We’ve recognised the need to provide buyers with the opportunity to individualise their cars,” said our source. “This is especially important on the Beetle.”
In response to criticism of the Beetle’s packaging - particularly the depth of the dashboard and the lack of rear space - VW has thoroughly reworked the interior. The wider tracks and longer wheelbase increase space, but a lower roof reduces head room. Boot capacity will rise, to a nominal 250 litres.
Engines will include a 105bhp 1.2, a 160bhp 1.4 and a 210bhp 2.0 litre. A US-bound 170bhp 2.5-litre five-cylinder is not destined for Europe. Diesels will include the new 105bhp 1.6 and a 140bhp 2.0 litre.
A hybrid is also planned, with a similar drivetrain to that of the Jetta CC from this year’s Detroit show: a 150bhp turbocharged/supercharged 1.4 with a 27bhp electric motor.