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