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Squished Bug

The 2012 Volkswagen Beetle

If you’re keeping score, what you’re looking at here is the 2012 Volkswagen Beetle. It’s the newest Beetle, but not to be confused with the New Beetle, which is what VW called the car from its introduction for the 1998 model year through to the 2011 models. And, just for the record, the original VW, affectionately known by many as the Bug, was never officially called a Beetle, except for the Super Beetle models of the early 1970s; they were officially a Type 1, or as the years went on, a 1200, 1300, 1500…depending on engine displacement.

The 2012 Beetle, while keeping the same basic design as the New Beetle, has been totally redone. The best way I can describe the differences? Imagine the New Beetle as a float in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade; now let a little of the air out until it’s a bit more squat, and there you go. Some wags have suggested that VW is going for a more masculine crowd with the new shape. Eh, maybe. The New Beetle definitely had a high cuteness quotient, and what guy wants to be seen driving a cute car? On the other hand, there are probably just as many (if not more) women buying new cars these days, so why would VW be trying to sell more cars to guys than gals? Makes no sense.

I think the new design is merely an evolution of the old New Beetle. And I think it works. Where the old design was quite “puffy” looking, the 2012 is lower and more modern in appearance.

And that lower look, luckily, didn’t transfer into a cramped interior. I could probably still wear a top hat while driving, if I had one. Besides the enormous amount of head room, there was one, even more pleasing aspect of the new design as I climbed in for my recent test drive at Schmitt’s VW in Bowmansville: They’ve done away with that huge distance that previously separated driver and windshield. The driver now sits much closer to the windshield, and feels more a part of the car. Before, the hood began so far ahead of you it was almost like it was another car. I actually saw a large dog lounging atop the dashboard of a New Beetle one day as it drove down the street.

The interior is definitely up to VW’s high standards. The materials are of high quality, the controls laid out in a logical and user-friendly array, and the seating is very comfortable. The back seat, while still high on headroom, is a bit cramped for full-sized adults, although I did get back there, and I imagine I could survive a short trip without being all cramped-up.

Heritage 17-inch wheel option

My test car on a recent cool, rainy afternoon, was the Turbo Beetle, powered by a two-liter, 16-valve, DOHC, in-line four-cylinder, turbocharged engine with intercooler and FSI® direct fuel injection; it puts out 200 horsepower, and 207 lbs/ft of torque. And yes, it’s a hoot to drive. Step on the gas and let the turbo kick in for brisk acceleration and a nice sound, to boot. Cornering is taut, and steering response is excellent. The turbo comes with red-painted brake calipers, four-wheel independent suspension, electromechanical power steering with variable assistance, rear spoiler, halogen fog lights, and really great sport seats. A six-speed manual transmission is standard; my test car had the optional six-speed DSG automatic transmission with Tiptronic and Sport mode.

One option I think you should look at is the Heritage 17-inch wheel option. They look almost like the old steel wheel/hubcap combination of the original Beetles. Cool. Pricing for the 2012 Beetle starts at $19,795 while the Turbo starts at $23,395. I think you’ll like it no matter what your chromosomes are.

More info at

Read more of Jim Corbran's You Auto Know every other week in Artvoice, and more frequently on Artvoice Daily.

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