The company’s announced aim was “to essentially go after the MINI so far as market positioning and price offerings.” But this car has nothing like the MINI’s flair; maybe it will have some of its performance.
It appears to me that VW’s most important objective was to counter the image of the 1998-2010 New Beetle as a “chick car.” I owned one of these, because it had a good turbo engine and was a beautiful design. It turns out that two-thirds of the buyers of that car were women—which never caused me any embarrassment.
The new car is being pitched as more “masculine,” but why would you dismiss two-thirds of your base to appeal to the boy racers, whom you won’t get anyway? From its beginnings, the Beetle has always had a niche appeal. More testosterone won’t get you that.
And VW further muddies the marketing waters by making this thing into another mutation of GTI or Scirocco (Europe only; see at right). The engine choices are okay, but the diesel (to come) with 29/40 mpg could be the standout. Still, can you imagine many of these being sold in the U.S.?
The base engine, from the Jetta, is a 2.5-liter 5-cylinder with 170 hp. Optional is a 2-liter turbo four, rated at 200 hp and 207 lb-ft of torque, with optional 6-speed dual-clutch tranny and electronic differential.
It’s also got a big sunroof, lots of amenities, better handling and a sharp retro interior. No bud vase.
The original U.S. Beetle in the 1950s was cheap, fun, and easy to maintain. And it was quirky. This car is the essence of non-quirkiness.
Do you like the 2012 Beetle? Are you man enough to drive one?