New, bolder Beetle races ahead

PUBLISHED : Friday, 29 April, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 29 April, 2011, 12:00am


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The Volkswagen Beetle needed a thorough overhaul to compete with the latest urban runabouts, and the newest version is a vast improvement on its predecessor.

Launched last week in New York, Berlin and Shanghai Auto, which closed yesterday, the latest Beetle looks bolder than the New Beetle of 1998, and could have the stylish BMW Mini and Audi A1 in its sights.

Due to be launched in Asia in February next year, the new car is 152mm longer (at 4.278m), 84mm wider (at 1.808 metres) and 12mm taller (at 1.486m) than the New Beetle.

A longer roof section gives the model a more spacious cabin and its lower profile can be considered a continuation of the Ragster hot-rod concept shown in Detroit in 2005, Volkswagen says.

The marque has given the car a rear spoiler with a black top, installed optional bi-xenon headlights with 15 LED daytime running lights and will offer a range of 12 colours.

The interior has been redesigned with a roof 38mm lower, but with a longer wheelbase which allows more stretch in the back and 310 litres of boot space compared with its predecessor's 209 litres. The transparent panoramic roof can be tilted or opened, 'blocks 99 per cent of ultraviolet radiation and 92 per cent of heat energy', and has an 80 per cent larger glass surface area than on the New Beetle, the marque says.

The latest Beetle's clocks and instruments have been redesigned alongside an extra glovebox and a steering wheel with painted accents in its spokes.

'While drivers in the air-cooled Beetle travelled in a very low-slung seat, and drivers of the New Beetle felt as if they were chauffeured because the bonnet was so far forward, the latest Beetle offers an agile, driver-oriented coup? experience,' Volkswagen says.

The Beetle also gets an electronic stabilisation programme, six airbags and a choice of 105PS, 140PS, 160PS and 200PS engines in Asia-Pacific.

The 200PS Beetle 2.0 TSI, with manual transmission, promises top speeds of 225km/h for just 7.4litres of petrol per 100km, and the spew of 173g/km of carbon dioxide. The 160PS 1.4 TSI, with a seven-speed DSG double-clutch gearbox, consumes 5.9l/100km and emits 139g/km of CO2, the marque says.

The 105PS Beetle, with a 1.6 TDI diesel engine, may not be available in Hong Kong, but it is the most fuel-efficient Beetle ever.