VW Beetle (2011): spy photos of the icon reborn | CAR Magazine

VW Beetle (2011): spy photos of the icon reborn

Published: 08 October 2010 Updated: 26 January 2015

Volkswagen will relaunch the iconic Beetle In early 2011. The VW Beetle coupe – scooped here in our latest spy photos – arrives first, followed by the cabriolet later in the year.

The original rear-wheel-drive Beetle sold 21.5 million units over 65 years. Its successor, the front-drive New Beetle launched in 1998 in the
United States, soon became the darling of a predominantly female fashion- and lifestyle-oriented clientele which was not even remotely interested in flower power songs or the anti-establishment mantra of the roaring Sixties.

Designed in California by J Mays and Freeman Thomas, the success of the reinvented VW bubble car turned out to be short-lived; despite sporadic product enhancement efforts such as the 224bhp RSi version based on the Golf VR6, by 2009, sales dropped to an all-time low of little over 30,000 units.

The new VW Beetle Mk3: all about the new 2011 Beetle

In spring 2011, the second-generation New Beetle known internally as VW324/325 is due to see the light of day. It exceeds the current car by 90mm in length, sports a flatter roofline and a more upright windscreen, and has a more dynamic stance thanks to the wider track and the reduced front overhang. You can see all of these in our new spyshots.

The extended rear end accommodates a larger cargo area (up by 40 litres – it was tiny before) and a more spacious passenger compartment which offers 30mm more headroom. From some angles, the notably more grown-up shape is reminiscent of the Ragster concept on display at the 2005 Detroit show.

With a bit of luck, the new look should appeal to hippie fan-club members as well as to a much younger audience.

Where will the new Beetle be built?

It’ll be assembled by VW do Mexico in Puebla starting in January 2011. The MkII New Beetle adopts the decontented front suspension and the compound rear axle of the Golf Mk5. Only the 200bhp top-of-the-line version is expected to a feature an independent rear suspension. Engines for the US market run thus:

2.5-litre five (170bhp/177lb ft)
2.0-litre GTi unit (200bhp/207lb ft)
2.0-litre TDI (140bhp/236lb ft)

European engines are:

1.2 TSI (105bhp/175Nm)
1.4 TSI (160bhp/129lb ft)
2.0-litre GTi unit (200bhp/207lb ft)
1.6 TDI (105bhp/184lb ft)

Both 105bhp models must make do with five forward ratios. All versions bar the US-bound diesel can be had with an optional six- or seven-speed dual-clutch transmissions. Don’t expect a Bluemotion eco Beetle, a sporty RSi derivative or the extra-cost 4Motion drivetrain at this stage.

The next two-door Beetle will be marketed as a coupé – because that´s what it is. The cabriolet retains the old-fashioned convertible stack. A rudimentary speedster spin-off is under consideration to tie in with the mid-cycle facelift.

By Tim Pollard

Group digital editorial director, car news magnet, crafter of words