2012 Volkswagen Beetle debuts in Shanghai and New York

Andross Moonah - CAP staff
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The Volkswagen Beetle is a historic icon. It was introduced in Germany way back in 1938 when German dictator Adolf Hitler announced his desire for a "Peoples' car." Actually, "Peoples' car" is literally what Volkswagen translates to; "Volks" meaning people, and "Wagen" meaning car.

The legendary Dr. Ferdinand Porsche was responsible for the Beetle's development, and Dr. Porsche would later use Beetle components to build the very first Porsche sports cars. In fact, the Porsche 911 owes its rear-engine layout to the modest little Beetle of over seventy years ago.
The Beetle was the very first Volkswagen model, and remained in production until 2003.

Despite its demise, the popularity of the Beetle was so strong that in 1997, Volkswagen unveiled the New Beetle to build on the success of the original. The New Beetle was a modern interpretation of the original, with styling that closely resembled the 1938 model. The biggest change was that the New Beetle had a front-mounted, liquid-cooled engine whereas the original had an air-cooled rear-mounted unit.

The New Beetle was eventually discontinued in 2010, but Volkswagen has announced that a new generation Beetle will go on sale in North America this autumn as a 2012 model.

The latest incarnation of the peoples' car was first unveiled last week at the 2011 Auto Shanghai in China and then again earlier this week at the New York International Auto Show in Manhattan. Its styling is similar to the New Beetle, although it's clearly more modern in appearance. The latest Beetle is distinguished most notably by LEDs in the headlights, jewel-like taillights, and a front grille that resembles other current VW models like the Golf and Jetta. Inside, the Beetle is more modern than retro, and features well sorted instrumentation and piano black surfaces which help lift the look of the interior.

The 2012 Beetle will be available in three trim levels ranging from Beetle, Design, and Sport. VW says each trim level will feature a unique set of features. Optional equipment includes keyless access, a panoramic sunroof, LED daytime running lights, and bi-xenon headlights. The 2012 Beetle also features a standard electronic stability control program (ESP), and six airbags.

VW will offer three engine choices for America, and that probably means that Canadians will get the same. The first is a 2.5-litre inline five-cylinder that generates 170 horsepower and 177 lb-ft of torque. The second is a 2.0-litre four-cylinder TDI diesel with 140 horsepower and 236 lb-ft of torque, while the last engine is VW's TSI turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder unit that generates 200 horsepower and 207 lb-ft of torque.

Transmissions include a five-speed manual or six-speed automatic, the former being standard and the latter of which is available as an option for 2.5-litre models. VW's famous DSG dual-clutch six-speed sequential transmission will be optional on the TDI and TSI models, with a six-speed manual being standard.

Official Canadian fuel economy figures have not been released, but VW's U.S. division estimates the 2012 Beetle will yield an equivalent EPA rating of 10.7 L/100km to as much as 5.9 L/100km depending on which engine the Beetle is outfitted with. The diesel, the most fuel-efficient car in its class, will yield an estimated EPA equivalent of 8.1 L/100km in the city, 5.9 on the highway and 7.1 combined. Canadian fuel economy specs will appear much thriftier when released due to our rating system, but of course the actual fuel economy will remain the same. Expect official fuel economy figures and more to be released closer to the 2012 Beetle's sale date this autumn.
©(Copyright Canadian Auto Press)

Topics: Hatchback, Volkswagen, VW, 2012, Beetle, $20,000 - $29,999, $30,000 - $39,999, Compact,

Organizations: Volkswagen

Geographic location: Shanghai, New York

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