Same, but dif­fer­ent

Volk­swa­gen’s born-again Bee­tle is ex­pected in 18 months, writes PAUL GOVER in Ice­land

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Carsguide -

THE ar­rival of a new Volk­swa­gen Golf fi­nally clears the way for a new Bee­tle. More than eight years af­ter the Ger­man peo­ple’s car was re­born with a Bee­tle body bolted over a Golf me­chan­i­cal pack­age, work is be­ing fi­nalised on a 21st-cen­tury take on the clas­sic shape.

The Bee­tle should be in show­rooms within 18 months, fol­low­ing the lat­est Golf 6 and the Polo, which will be re­vealed next year.

‘‘We have a fun plan to re­new the Bee­tle. And we don’t just have a plan — we have done it,’’ says Volk­swa­gen ex­ec­u­tive vi­cepres­i­dent Detlef Wit­tig.

There is an out­side chance the Bee­tle will be shown as a con­cept next week at the Paris Mo­tor Show. Volk­swa­gen says it will have three show cars in the French cap­i­tal. One is con­firmed as the Golf GTi, which goes into pro­duc­tion next year, but the other two are be­ing kept se­cret.

Wit­tig hints the car is even closer, at least to pro­duc­tion. ‘‘This will take a cou­ple more months,’’ he says.

Though the tim­ing for the Bee­tle’s re­newal is un­cer­tain, all the work has been done, in­clud­ing the styling.

‘‘We’re ready,’’ Frank Bruese of Volk­swa­gen’s de­sign depart­ment says. He says VW has a tough job with the Bee­tle be­cause, like the Porsche 911, its ba­sic de­sign is a clas­sic. Still, he says the sig­nif­i­cant changes will not af­fect the ap­peal of the car.

‘‘It’s is more of a man’s car — a bit stronger, a bit tougher,’’ Bruese says. ‘‘The cur­rent model is more ar­chi­tec­tural; this one is more emo­tional and sporty. It’s sharp­ened.’’

The born-again Bee­tle was one of the ear­li­est retro cars from the 1990s, though it has since been fol­lowed — and over­taken by — ev­ery­thing from the Mini to the forth­com­ing Chevro­let Ca­maro.

The Mini was up­dated well be­fore the Bee­tle — and is also be­ing stretched with the Club­man, a sec­ond-gen­er­a­tion Cabrio and the forth­com­ing 4x4 wagon — but VW has taken its time with the Bee­tle.

Bruese says the tim­ing has al­lowed the de­sign­ers to do more work on the car, not just de­tail­ing, but in the way the clas­sic Bee­tle body is up­dated.

‘‘This cir­cle is some­thing to play with.’’

De­sign: de­spite the Bee­tle’s clas­sic shape, VW says sig­nif­i­cant changes will not af­fect the ap­peal of the car.

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