By on October 7, 2010

Once upon a time, there was a Volkswagen executive who couldn’t figure out how to get American consumers emotionally invested in his brand. Then one day it hit him: why not re-skin the Golf as a Beetle? It could be less practical and efficient than its donor car, but baby boomers would buy it in Costco volumes anyway, for the sheer gauzy nostalgia of it.  After flogging that Beetle for 12 years, through two successive updates to the car it was based on, it was time to update the old classic. But how?

Luckily history had an answer. Following the example of Beetle tuner/modders at the end of the original Beetle’s lifespan, VW apparently chopped the roof, exaggerated the fenders and called it good. Perhaps with the goal of making for a more “original” feel, the windscreen appears to have been moved back as well. Unfortunately tough, the change simply emphasizes the front-engine proportions, making the end result more reminiscent of a Morris Minor than the ur-Käfer. But, as the Volkswagen executive had learned by now, Americans don’t notice that stuff. The only remaining problem: how to avoid calling it “The new New Beetle.”

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45 Comments on “What’s Wrong With This Picture: The Evolving Beetle Edition...”

  • avatar

    I’ll tell what’s wrong – the Beetle is towing something over a mountain pass. Wrong on so many levels. If they squish the roof line down and widen the fenders a little bit more, its going to look like a Porsche!

  • avatar

    Looks like the spawn of a 911 and a PT Cruiser. I think I like it.

  • avatar

    …how to avoid calling it “The new New Beetle.”

    Only make them in black and find a translation of the term cockroach and there you go.

    That being said I like it, but since I’m not female I don’t think I fit the demographic.

  • avatar

    It’s hideous.
    The secret to the success for the Porsche 911 is that they evolved it over time and continually improved the performance while keeping the styling easily identifiable as a 911. People would have been fine with a new new Beetle that looked very similar to the old with updated mechanicals. Unfortunately, VW is changing this design to make it uglier, and as we have seen with the Jetta, the mechanicals are likely not being improved at all.

    • 0 avatar
      Domestic Hearse

      This same VW executive is now in charge of Porsche. Since you’ve brought up the evolution of the beloved 911, this should cause a collective gasp among Porschephiles.

      “No, they wouldn’t make a Beetle sized ugly when it’s the 911’s turn, would they?”

      Um. Hope not. But likely might.

  • avatar

    I think this is actually far, far closer to the original beetle, especially to the later 1302, 1303 models (“Super Beetle” to you guys), than the previous “New Beetle”. That one was basically overstyling the original beetles basic look, without caring about the details. This one seems closer, even if it is still FWD and a whole lot bigger. I like it. ;)
    Also, this design seems to promise a lot more usable space in the car. The more vertical windshield will reduce the football field of empty dash plastic in front of the driver. The less curved roof might allow an adult passenger in the back…
    @JMII: And whats wrong with a beetle towing a trailer up a pass? How do you think all the german families in their (way to small cars) with trailers in the back got to the italian beaches in the 50s and 60s? Sure, it was hard and slow to tow anything – but it was done…

    • 0 avatar

      The less curved roof might allow an adult passenger in the back…

      In not much comfort, I’d think… that rear head rest looks awfully close to the rear glass. 

      Unfortunately, it seems in the redesign they’ve lost one of the (few) things the “original” New Beetle was praised for: tons of space for front passengers, even if they’re large/tall.

      +1 on the trailering comment… passenger cars are regularly pressed into service for this in Europe.  Strangely, when they get shipped across the Atlantic, they seem to get a tow capacity of “not recommended.”  I think it’s only on this continent that we seem to think that one needs a huge truck to tow even the lightest load. 

    • 0 avatar

      Go look up the Brenderup UK trailer site. LOTS of light weight trailers of all sizes and jobs well suited for small cars up to SUVs and trucks. You see – American style trailers are overkill for what a European would pull with their small sub-1.6L four cylinder cars.

      We bought a Brenderup 1205S for all sorts of chores including carrying our bikes and camping gear on roadtrips. The problem with the typical domestic trailer is it alone is HEAVY. If my tow capacity is 1500 lbs I don’t want to start out with an 800 lb trailer.

      Incidentally we purchased this trailer to pull primarily behind a CR-V four cylinder AND an aircooled Beetle or our aircooled VW Westfalia.

      As for the look of this Beetle revision. I like it. Alot.

      This is how we drive a smallish vehicle 365 days a year and still have the cargo capacity to vacation or do hardware store trips. The trailer is rated at 1200 lbs or so. Most of my cargo is 800 lbs or less. It’s also how I get by without buying a pickup. If I bought a truck I’d want a small truck but small trucks can’t be had in the USA anymore.

      I got the idea of a small lightweight trailer when I lived in Italy. Families of four vacationing using cars the size of a Civic fourdoor and hauling their stuff in the trailer using a tiny four cylinder engine. It works.

      In America if you want to buy a tiny trailer you find trailers for hot rods and GoldWing style touring motorcycles. These cost the moon and are too pretty to haul garden supplies in.

  • avatar

    I agree with JMII and jimble – looks a bit like a 911 that got pulled up by the roof, or a Beetle that got pulled at the ends.  I kinda like it.  I think it’s okay to evolve the shape a bit.  It goes without saying that a car should mechanically improve over time.  Not sure how well they’re doing on that score.

  • avatar

    I like it, but would have to see one in person to be sure.

  • avatar

    Definite thumbs down. The inner child in me always looks for the ‘face’ on the front of cars, and this one looks like a fat-jawed imbecile.

  • avatar

    The old and new Beetle doesn’t do much for me, personally.  It could be that this retro styled concept is done and past its sell-by date in the North American market.

  • avatar
    Amendment X

    I never understood why these cars got such ridicule. Had they put the engines in the back, I bet the purists would have adored it.

  • avatar

    I actually like it, it’s reminiscent of a Porsche 356.
    It also looks more “masculine” than the current style.  I’m sure a big problem with the current Beetle (besides the now stale look) is the stigma of it being a “chick car”.

  • avatar

    Knowing VW’s ad history, I’m sure they won’t have a problem marketing it as the “New New Beetle.”

  • avatar

    I saw the pics last week in some link Jalopnik posted. The front bumper cover is from the current car, similar with the rear one, and the car looks odd or poorly assembled. I guess this is to prevent that people see the new style in a car that has almost no camouflage
    The roofline and windshield angle are more beetle-like in this one. Same with the joroba. I kinda like it, but would like to see it in person to be sure.

  • avatar
    GS 455

    Forget the Beetle. VW should do a remake of the Karmann Ghia. They could sell shit loads of them.

  • avatar

    I liked the original New Beetle (ick!), even though it made a lot of compromises.  I’ve a soft-spot for the convertible.  In Triple-White trim.
    This doesn’t enthral me, though.  It’s like the TT: it’s a nice enough design, but something about the original (and yes, that’s ironic) was lost in the attempt to make it look “meaner”.  The original New Beetle (ack!) was a nice series of circles; this looks like it’s melted and been stepped on.

  • avatar

    Dammit, Dammit, Dammit!
    I like this new design a lot, but there is not a chance in HELL I’m going to buy another one after all I had to do to keep my 02 1.8T on the road, especially if there is not an option for the 2.0T + 6 speed.

  • avatar

    Let’s hope they deep six the bud vase on the dash.

  • avatar

    How long until it’s replaced with a new interpretation of a ’75 Rabbit, so we can have two Golf’s in the lineup?

  • avatar

    Fugly. It looks like a New Beetle that’s been hit by a lift – not so much “meaner” as poorly proportioned, with a front overhang so monstrous it’s in a different time zone from the rest of the car.
    And that volvoesque, sqared-off shoulder line below the side windows clashes so badly with the rest of the car’s lines that it looks like two different designers were co-operating on the car. Blindfolded. Over the phone.

  • avatar

    Looks like the pics were taken on the Grossglockner mountain pass in Austria. The car however has nothing to do with the original design.VW has lost to understand the Bug long time ago.They should have left it to Porsche.

  • avatar

    Squashed Bug.

  • avatar
    Jerry Sutherland

    It looks tougher now-the roof line reminds of what my 63 Beetle looked like after my brother Jim rolled it when his 16 year old level of inexperience kicked in…and he over corrected on a slight incline. That car looked tougher too.

  • avatar

    This looks like a step in the right direction…the current gen New Beetle is an unbelievable failure in “style over function” with a ridiculously deep IP beneath the windshield and NO rear seat passenger room/tiny cargo space…

    Looks like it may be still camouflaged on the front/rear fenders…I hope so, it looks a little puffy and undefined…if they could take a little of the pudge off, this is a winner.

  • avatar

    I like it. It looks like a modernized version of the original Beetle ( I wonder if VW will finally offer the TDI in it again? Nah, that might make sense.

  • avatar

    I’ve pissed more coherent shapes in snow than this thing.  Gad.

  • avatar

    The big question is what kind of powertrains will it get.  I like the meaner look if it comes with an option for the 2.0T and the DSG gearbox.

    • 0 avatar

      The big question is whether teenage girls going off to college are going to like it.  My guess would be no.

      But it does have the same fender flare as the new S-Class, so it’s got that going for it.

  • avatar

    Beetle v2.1

  • avatar

    I loathe this current design trend of chopped roofs and high beltlines.  It’s the Bunker Beetle. 

    I do love that it is pulling a trailer up a mountain pass.  Of course it’s common knowledge in the USA that you need a minimum of a V8 pickup to tow anything.  That is probably because you see the guy in a F250 Powerstroke towing a massive horse trailer passing you on a grade at 90 mph (but can he stop that thing?).  In Europe it’s okay to poke along in an econobox with a trailer in the slow lane.

  • avatar

    I actually like it.  It’s one VW I might actually consider buying.  Now if it were only reliable….
    More glass would help….lower those beltlines baby! 

  • avatar


  • avatar

    Wow, is that bad.  I like the Porsche Panamera, but not this micro-sized abomination of it.

  • avatar

    I hope the flattened rear-fenders are part of a disguise in these photos.  That looks hideous.

  • avatar

    I like it! I’d drive one with turbo powa.

  • avatar
    M 1

    Bizarre. The proportions are actually very similar to the original VW prototype (if the accompanying description I found is accurate):

  • avatar

    I guess that is the challenge of updating a retro car – what to do next.

  • avatar
    Dr Lemming

    The extreme roof and windshield curvature of the current model gives the illusion of small size.  Alas, by flattening the roofline and puffing out the fenders the Beetle 3 looks like a bloated caricature of the original — particularly in comparison to the Mini and Fiat 500.

  • avatar
    1600 MKII

    It looks like a reasonable evolution and, for me, more attractive…now a 2.0T and stiffer suspension?

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