The unveiling of the new VW Beetle happened half an hour later than planned on account of a late arrival.
The cars were present, and so was a room full of excited Chinese media. And had it been anyone other than VW Board of Management Chairman Professor Doctor Martin Winterkorn who was behind schedule, they’d probably have started without him.
“This is not just a new vehicle,” hyped the voice over, “it’s the continuation of an icon.” Shortly before the covers came off, VW Group R&D boss Ulrich Hackenberg trundled on stage in an original Volkswagen in full ‘Herbie’ livery, just to ram home the Beetle’s resonance with popular culture.
The new ‘New’ Beetle looks like a bit of a pulled punch, for definite; an evolutionary update of the 1998 car rather than a daring re-think. But look closer and there are many more direct nods to the 1938 ‘Type 1’ than sink in at first. Give it time and this car’s distinctiveness permeates through.
On the stand, after the initial rush had died down, when I charged him with creating a conservative design, VW head of exterior design Mark Lichte made sure I didn’t overlook those little homages.