2012 Volkswagen Beetle
by John Davis
There is no automotive shape more iconic than the Volkswagen Beetle. Even after 70 years, the Beetle is special. Originally known only as Volkswagen, which literally means “people’s car,” it was a mechanically simple rear-engine model that almost everyone could afford to own. But those driving it started calling it Käfer, or Beetle.
The 2012 Volkswagen Beetle is the first redesign since the New Beetle arrived on a front-wheel drive chassis in 1998. And, while the iconic shape is still with us, it now looks bulked up. No longer a cute little critter, the longer, wider, and lower Beetle has a bolder and more aggressive look. The extra size is most evident by a much longer hood, wider fenders, and a flattened roofline.
Engines, however, are familiar to Volkswagen fans. Standard issue is a 170-horsepower 2.5 liter 5-cylinder. Optional is a 2.0 liter turbocharged 4-cylinder rated at 200 horsepower. It couples to a 6-speed manual transmission or a 6-speed DSG dual-clutch automatic.
During our initial drives with the Beetle Turbo, we were impressed with a solid throttle response that only displayed a hint of turbo lag. Cornering is immediate, with the Beetle’s fun to drive nature fully exposed while still at legal speeds. We also loved the smooth, controlled ride as this bug soaks up potholes with little shake.
The interior is completely updated with gadgets that original Beetle owners would never have imagined. The front seats are among the most comfortable around. The new instrument panel is totally modern, with an easy to read three-gauge cluster that includes a multi function display.
While the traditional flower vase is now gone, the new bug does retain the “Beetle Bin” second glove box. New features include a panoramic sunroof and premium sound by Fender. There is surprisingly easy access to the back row, although as you might expect, head and legroom are limited.
Excellent updates inside and out highlight the 2012 Volkswagen Beetle’s robust but still iconic look. It is indeed a new bug, and one that’s worth catching more than ever before.
If you’re into iconic cars, and looking for sane everyday transportation, why not put down that can of Raid and catch MotorWeek’s exclusive Road Test of the 2012 Volkswagen Beetle. It will begin airing on public television stations nationwide October 8, 2011(episode 3105). For a complete listing of the public television stations that broadcast MotorWeek, go to our home page and click on find your station. MotorWeek is also seen Tuesday evenings on cable’s Velocity (Formerly HD Theater).