Beetlemania: why VW is considering four new Beetle bodystyles

Published: 18 August 2014

In 2013, VW sold 120,000 Beetles worldwide. Not a huge volume by VW standards, but a big enough segment to hang on to, which is exactly what the Germans intend to do when the cult car adopts the modern MQB matrix in 2019.

This architecture, or platform, is so much more versatile than today’s components sets that it allows Wolfsburg finally to spin off the bodystyles to fill extra niches. This report details the burgeoning Beetle range due from 2019 when the modern Beetle Mk3 is due.

New Beetle model #1: the Microbus MPV

Perhaps the most logical addition to the range is the reinvented Microbus. After the ill-fated 2001 Microbus concept (too big, too expensive) and the aborted 2011 Microbus design exercise derived from the Up! (too small, too compromised), the third attempt based on MQB might hit the bull’s eye after all.

Incorporating structural elements of the Golf Sportsvan and the next Touran MPV, the proposed 2019 Microbus is said to be a roomy, versatile and visually compelling blend of modern and retro.

New Beetle model #2: the VW Beetle crossover

Next on the product planners’ wish-list is a New Beetle crossover which reportedly bears a distant resemblance to the archaic Kübelwagen, the army-sponsored Iltis and the rudimentary VW 181 (also known as The Thing). Not to be confused with the VW Beetle Dune, coming in 2016.

A rugged lifestyle vehicle and by no means a proper SUV, the still-nameless affordable all-rounder would feature a stacked suspension, protective cladding, all-season tyres and a tailormade cabin trim.

Options on the Beetle crossover are to include 4WD, a seven-speed DCT twin-clutch transmission and a plug-in hybrid application boasting a frugal 95bhp 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol engine.

New Beetle model #3: the VW Beetle coupe/sports car

In addition to to the familiar fixed-head two-door Beetle saloon/hatch, we may in future see a bespoke coupe along the lines of the coveted Karmann Ghia. The sportiest New Beetle by a long shot, this proposed 2+2-seater is said to be an evolution of extrovert concept cars like Beetle R, Dune and Bugster.

Proportionally almost a stage-one hot-rod, the ground-hugging coupe displays a small greenhouse, a low roofline and a wide track, sources say. Although this version could be easily converted into an even meaner-looking Speedster complete with a token bikini top, marketing reportedly favours the more conventional four-seater cabrio.

Enginewise, a new high-performance 239bhp 2.0-litre diesel and the 300bhp petrol-fed twin-turbo four we know from the Golf R should work for both high-end models. Standard equipment would include DSG and 4Motion.

New Beetle model #4: the more practical five-door Beetle

Last but not least, the VW design department is toying with a funky yet functional five-door New Beetle which may require an extended wheelbase and/or a new pillarless door concept to make the best of its limiting bubblecar proportions.

Like most third-generation Beetles, the practical five-door hold-all would be available with a large fabric sunnroof, a go-anywhere Cross package, a Fender music system, a high-mpg Bluemotion kit and a GTI performance option.

Although the MQB components set is more expensive to develop and build than the outgoing PQ35 platform, it does offer extended flexibility, modern electronics and a broader drivetrain selection.

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By Georg Kacher

European editor, secrets uncoverer, futurist, first man behind any wheel