The 2012 Beetle “breaks free of the geometry of the previous model” and aims to be more sporty and macho, the Wolfsburg-based carmaker said in a statement released on Monday evening.
“The Beetle is now characterised by a clean, self-confident and dominant sportiness,” chief designer Klaus Bischoff said. “The car not only has a lower profile; it is also substantially wider, the front bonnet is longer, the front windscreen is shifted further back and has a much steeper incline. All of this creates a new dynamism.”
At the launch in New York, he repeatedly emphasized how “masculine” it was compared with the last Beetle, the New York Times reported.
The latest version was launched simultaneously in Berlin, Shanghai and New York. It will hit the market in North America in September/October, in Europe in October/November, in Asia in February and in South America in late 2012 or early 2013.
The original prototype, first made in 1938, eventually became the longest-running and most-manufactured basic car design in history. Volkswagen made more than 21 million of the original. It was called the Volkswagen type 1 but because of its shape quickly became known as the Beetle in Germany.
It became the icon of economy cars in Europe. Ferdinand Porsche kickstarted the original Volkswagen (or people's car) starting in 1933 on the orders of Nazi leader Adolf Hitler who wanted a basic, cheap car for German families. Erwin Komenda, Porsche's chief designer, took over the details of the Beetle's design. Producing of the car did not actually start until after World War II.
An updated version of the Beetle was then released in 1998. The new design is quite different, however, with a lower, sportier look. It is 8.4 centimetres wider, 1.2 centimetres lower and 15.2 centimetres longer.
It will be available with a choice of three engines: a 170-horsepower, 2.5-litre petrol five-cylinder engine, a 140-hp 2.0-litre four-cylinder TDI clean diesel engine and a 200-hp 2.0-litre four-cylinder TSI turbocharged petrol engine. Its top speed will be 225 kilometres per hour.
It is also the most fuel efficient Beetle, according to Volkswagen, with the diesel model rated at 29 miles per gallon in the city and 40 mpg on the highway. In the European measurement, it takes as little as 4.3 litres to drive 100 kilometres.
Classic features such as the round headlights, flared wings and characteristic bonnet shape remain. It also has a newly designed rear spoiler that helps the car “aggressively maintain contact with the road,” Volkswagen said.