CUR­TAIN CALL FOR BUG

NT News - Motoring - - NEWS - By NEIL McDON­ALD

FTER more than 10 years and one mil­lion cars, the fash­ion-friendly Bee­tle is fi­nally bow­ing out.

The last of the mod­ern wa­ter-cooled front-drive ‘‘New Bee­tle’’ is be­ing cel­e­brated with the un­veil­ing of a ‘‘Fi­nal Edi­tion’’ ver­sion.

Just 3000 pow­der blue coupes and con­vert­ibles will be sold in North Amer­ica. Al­ready hun­dreds have been snapped up by col­lec­tors since it was an­nounced at the re­cent Los An­ge­les mo­tor show.

How­ever, the quirky two-door will sol­dier on in Aus­tralia at least this year be­fore the next-gen­er­a­tion car ar­rives in Europe in 2011.

Volk­swa­gen is not re­veal­ing too much about the new car, ex­cept to say it will con­tinue with the fa­mous bug shape.

But it is ex­pected to be lighter, roomier and more

Afuel ef­fi­cient with a range of al­ter­na­tive pow­er­trains, in­clud­ing a pos­si­bly hy­brid ver­sion to com­ple­ment VW’s new-gen­er­a­tion petrol and diesel en­gines.

The 2011 Bee­tle is ex­pected to share its un­der­pin­nings with the new Golf and should prom­ise bet­ter han­dling car.

Al­though the de­sign will be the evo­lu­tion of the Bee­tle look, Volk­swa­gen HQ is known to be looking at broad­en­ing the car’s ap­peal from its mostly fe­male fan base.

Volk­swa­gen Aus­tralia spokesman Karl Gehling said the car had been very pop­u­lar with fe­male buy­ers lo­cally.

More than 50 per cent of buy­ers are women un­der the age of 30.

Gehling said the ‘‘Fi­nal Edi­tion’’ would only be avail­able in Amer­ica.

‘‘But we do have some plans for lim­ited edi­tion mod­els here,’’ he said.

Lo­cally VW has in­tro­duced the lim­ited-edi­tion Mi­ami ver­sion and 2008 an­niver­sary edi­tions, which proved pop­u­lar with buy­ers.

In the US, VW even sold a hot pink ‘‘Bar­bie’’ ver­sion to cel­e­brate the doll’s 50th an­niver­sary last year.

‘‘It’s the type of car that lends it­self to spe­cial edi­tions,’’ Gehling said.

He said al­though it had not been a big seller lo­cally through­out its life, the com­pany was happy with sales.

‘‘ It not a ume prod­uct but con­sis­tent,’’ he said.

The ‘‘ New Bee­tle’’ is based on the 1994 Detroit show car called Con­cept 1. When it fi­nally hit pro­duc­tion in 1998 the car ditched the orig­i­nal’s air­cooled rear en­gine lay­out

is volit is for a mod­ern wa­ter-cooled front en­gine and front wheel drive based on the Golf. In­stead of be­ing built in Ger­many too, the mod­ern Bee­tle came out of Pue­bla, Mex­ico.

Each spe­cial North Amer­i­can Bug gets ‘‘Fi­nal Edi­tion’’ badg­ing, spe­cial steer­ing wheel, sports sus­pen­sion, 17-inch al­loys and spe­cial schemes. In the US the car is pow­ered by a 112kW 2.5-litre in­line five-cylin­der en­gine through a sixspeed au­to­matic.

The same en­gine is used in some VW com­mer­cial ve­hi­cles and Audis.

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