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2012 Volkswagen Beetle: Return of an Icon

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2012 VW Beetle

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Welcome to New York, the big city of dreams. It’s where Volkswagen (VW) chose to set their 21st Century dream on center stage at The Warehouse at Pier 36. The German innovators kicked off the morning with vibrant hip-hop tunes from Kanye West and Jay-Z and pop culture tracks like Pink’s Raise Your Glass and Dynamite by Taio Cruz & Jennifer Lopez. If an early morning mini-concert themed press conference was indicative of VW’s intentions for their third generation icon then I can officially say Beetle-Mania has returned. To emphasize the enthusiasm worldwide VW, hosted simultaneous transcontinental debuts in New York City, Shanghai & Berlin all within 24 hours. As well, the Beetle campaign found its way on Oprah as well as Super Bowl XLV in Dallas. Pretty impressive!

Once the music subsided, VW USA CEO Jonathan Browning stepped on stage to present a black and red Beetle on display and address the media with enthusiasm regarding the company’s pride and joy. Since Ferdinand Porsche designed the first “People’s Car” in Europe in the mid 1930s VW has sold 23.5 million Beetles worldwide. Yes, this is the same Porsche that makes the 911 and Panamera. Today, the reincarnated Beetle remains an important chapter in VW’s history and future. So the company set aside three objectives that had to be met for the new vehicle.

  1. Bring back the spirit of the original Beetle.
  2. Emotionally reconnect people with the car.
  3. Carry new styling concept into the 21st century.

Mission complete. Upon approach, you see that the Beetle is less bubbly, a bit masculine and more dynamic, a description I would not have previously administered to a “Bug.” But it is sporty, stylish and innovative. VW goes on about the need for the Beetle to evolve new characteristics; so repackaging was a must. A few key changes include bringing the windshield closer to the driver, stretching the body (by inches), widening the track (by 3.3 inches), shortening the height (by .5 inch) and offering much bigger 19” wheels (base wheels are 17”). The interior is more colorful, enthusiastic and emotional and features a premium audio system from Fender. For example, the red Beetle is styled with a two-toned red and gray dash and steering wheel. The Beetle can also be ordered with a panoramic roof and a rear spoiler.

From a technical point of view, VW enabled the Beetle with the available 6-speed DSG dual-clutch transmission found on the brand’s higher end lines and three engine choices. The other two transmissions include a 5-speed manual and the optional 6-speed automatic. The Beetle is powered by either the 2.5L gasoline five cylinder, the 2.0L TDI Clean Diesel (the most fuel efficient) or the 2.0L TSI turbocharged gasoline engine.

With two trims levels “Design” and “Sport,” the Beetle coupe will go on sale in the fall with the convertible following next year. So for now, there are only plans for the two models. After the informational portions of the launch were complete we all headed to the MTV World Stage for a concert with the Black Eyed Peas, which of course was broadcast on MTV. Why not go out with a bang, or better yet enter a new era with a bigger bang. Das Auto!

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