VW had planned to split the Beetle range in two – with a petite back-to-basics version based on the Up/NSF and a bigger, Golf-based model to replace the current ageing Bug. However, the group's decision to make the Up front-engined has scuppered this plan. Which means we’ll see the new Beetle arriving in early 2010, following the traditional footsteps of today's model, and powered by a raft of petrol and diesel engines with the choice of manual and DSG 'boxes.
So it’s a case of same old, same old…?
Not quite. In a radical move, the California-styled hatch is expected to ditch the current car’s cuddly ‘girly’ looks for a far more athletic and aggressive stance. The risk is that such a bold move could backfire by simultaneously missing its new intended target and alienating (the exceptionally loyal) existing customer base.
Tell me more about the styling of the new Beetle
Insiders say the four-seater will draw heavily from the Ragster concept unveiled at the 2005 Detroit auto show, with a slammed roof, angular sheetmetal and sophisticated light treatment. The on-board packaging will be significantly improved, as will the driving dynamics – good news for anyone who has driven the current soggy and cramped Beetle.
What’s happened to the talk of a family of Beetle models?
It’s still talk at the moment. But there been a great deal of it in Wolfsburg’s corridors: talk of creating a raft of Beetle variants – a speedster, coupe, pick-up and microbus are in the mix – to establish the marque as a stand-alone brand, much like BMW and Mini.
The current financial conditions have stonewalled the plans, but that hasn't stopped VW from talking about a 2+2-seater coupé based on the Scirocco for cost saving (out in 2011 if approved) and a convertible (by 2012) to revive the Karmann Ghia badge and a Touran-based microbus/twin-cab pick-up – a spiritual successor to the original 1950 T1 Splittie (showroom potential by 2012).
But in the current climate, such ambitious range extensions are being pulled left, right and centre. We'd bet they don't all see the light of day...