By on April 20, 2011

It’s odd that China’s two largest carmakers, Volkswagen and GM chose Shanghai as the launchpad of their retro cars. After all, the 50s and 60s have zero appeal in China. Nobody thinks of Rock’n’Roll when they think back in China. Those were the forgotten times of the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution. The iconic cars of China’s past are the Santana, the Buick Century, the Jeep Cherokee of the 1980s and 1990s.

73 years after the original Beetle was launched, 13 years since the first-edition New Beetle came out, a new New Beetle took the stage in Shanghai.

Volkswagen wisely dropped any historic cues. The beginnings of the Beetle were in a likewise dark era in Germany. Volkswagen also dropped the new in Beetle. After all, New New Beetle would have been a bit much.

Ulrich Hackenberg. Chief of R&D at Volkswagen said the Beetle has “added testosterone.” That’s needed, because the predecessor was pretty much of a lady’s car. Or a car for people who feel like ladies. The Beetle, or “Jia Ke Chong“ as they call it in China in the rare moments they ever see one (it is not locally produced) has a longer wheelbase, a bigger trunk, is less effeminate, and reminds more of the original Käfer.

Basic facts:

Market launch, North America: September / October 2011

Market launch, Europe: October / November 2011

Market launch, Asia: February 2012

Market launch, South America: late 2012 / early 2013

Engine power range: 77 kW / 105 PS to 147 kW / 200 PS

Lowest fuel consumption (combined), Europe: 4.3* l/100 km (1.6 TDI)

Fuel economy (combined) USA: 33 mpg* (2.0 TDI)

Engine specifications: all petrol engines are charged TSI engines (except 2.5-litre engine for USA); all diesels are new common rail TDI engines; all engines meet Euro-5 emissions standard; all US engines fulfil BIN5 / ULEV PZEV


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33 Comments on “Shanghai Auto Show: Launch Of The Retro Rockets – New New Beetle Edition...”

  • avatar

    This car looks a lot nicer than the test mule photos that floated around over the past several months.
    But VW lost me as a customer years ago; I’d have to see much-improved reliability data to convince me to look at them again.

  • avatar

    I really think this is a fine looking vehicle (assuming you like the original Bug, of course). A lot will rest upon the way it’s priced (somewhere between the Jetta and Passat I hope).

  • avatar
    John Fritz

    I am impressed. I did not think that car could look that good.

  • avatar

    Guess I didn’t pay much attention over the last 13 years, but is the full size hatchback something new in this generation?

  • avatar

    The strange thing about it making a public debut in China is that this sort of car is highly unlikely to be popular in the Middle Kingdom.  The Chinese market tends to value sedans with ample rear seat space given that a lot of cars there are chaufffeur driven, with the boss in the back. 

  • avatar

    I’ve had three of the air-cooled Beetles and this rendition looks much less cartoonish than the current New Beetle. 

    I would still prefer a 3 door Golf over the water-cooled Beetle.  The original Beetle was an icon – but it’s time has passed.

  • avatar

    Everything I can see and hear about this new Beetle suggests it will be pushed as a sportier, coupe-ier car than the old New Beetle. It makes sense to think of this as a substitute for both the New Beetle and the new Scirocco, at least in the US. I don’t know about China.

    Overall, I like the new look, but the double-running-board detail is surprising. As for the dimensions, do we know yet how close this car is to its PQ35 kin? It’s slightly longer than a Scirocco, believe it or not.

  • avatar

    Looks like a PT Cruiser and a ‘New’ (old) Beetle got it on and this was the end result. Not impressed.

  • avatar

    Looks like a taller TT

  • avatar

    After all, the 50s and 60s have zero appeal… Those were the forgotten times of the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution.
    More 60s and 70s.  The Great Leap was only 50s by the skin of its teeth, and the CR wasn’t really over until the arrest of the Gang of Four, and the abandonment of all CR reforms sometime around 1978.  From an automotive standpoint, my wife has pictures of her in Beijing, right after the first Tienanmen Incident (the anti Jiang Qing, pro Zhou Enlai protests) of 1976, actually at the time of the Tangshan earthquake, showing only a few cars, but mostly bicycles.  Now, 35 years later, it is remarkable the automotive transformation in Beijing.  Mao, a man who mostly took trains, would be shocked.

  • avatar
    Amendment X

    I like it. Dare I say the front end smacks of Panamera?

  • avatar
    Kevin Jaeger

    I agree – quite a nice looking car.  I can’t see buying one of these rather than a Golf or GTI, though.

  • avatar
    Stacy McMahon

    I like this, a lot. Mostly because it doesn’t look like a Beetle. With the flat roof, upright windshield and bustleback, it’s more of a modern rendition of generic 30s styling. Very unique and interesting, and may have put VW back on my shopping list.

  • avatar

    I really like the proportions on the new Beetle, but i hear it’s based on the new Jetta.  Does that mean it has the cheap rear axle and horrible interior plastic that the new Jetta has?  I read that the Jetta came in last in a 10 car comparison.

  • avatar

    Will it have the copious headroom of the 1998-2011 car?  I’m 6’4 with only a 32 inch inseam.  I love headroom, and the 1998-2011 car had a ton of it.

  • avatar

    I think the styling is really clever.  An evolution of the New Beetle that still clearly recalls the original Beetle.

  • avatar

    The first iteration was a mistake and this is one too.  The beetle had charm and it’s been a long time since the German’s could design anything resembling charm.  Although the mini does resemble charm without actually being charming.

  • avatar

    It does look better than expected, and I think it actually looks more like the original Beetle.
    I do, however, miss the unapologetic cuteness from the ’94 Concept One.

    It seems like the car makers are embarrassed of carving out a successful niche, and making a perfectly good “cute” and “feminine” car butch when they don’t need to. Why lose what makes the car unique in the first place when there’s a market for it? Cars like the new March/Micra and Vitz/Yaris now looks boring and generic in attempt to make it more masculine.

  • avatar

    Speaking as the owner of an old New Beetle, I’m going to surprise myself by saying I like the new one, at least from the exterior view. Let’s say it could have come out a lot worse. I hold the minority view that all contemporary cars are trending  toward ugliness, compared to what was being drawn and stamped out a decade ago. Then, simple lines predominated, no more so than in VW’s turn-of-the-century lineup. Then came the Bangle era, when no surface was left untortured by creases, chrome and infinite varieties of bling. 

    The newest Beetle’s outline harkens back to the early Porsches, a pleasant association. And that shape is left to carry the message by an absence of surface excitement. I’ll miss the strict geometry of the New Beetle, but that’s the price for trimming down that minivan-style windshield that brought no functional benefits (the dash was a good place to carry a large pizza, but…). I applaud VW for breaking the roofline to set the A-pillar at a reasonable, more upright angle. The plunging roofline found in almost every other car is dictated by the wind tunnel. If only we put the designs to the same degree of testing for visibility and comfort! 

    So from the outside, it’s clearly a Beetle. Inside, I don’t get that same impression. The interior has plenty of luxury cues, but it could have fit within any car. I miss the old car’s simplicity and symmetry. And if I buy one, which I may, I’d have to improvise a way to cover up that video screen on the dash. Bright distractions like that have no place on a dashboard! So I proclaim, while other drivers are probably hacking their nav screen to show movies on, or simply velcroing their iPads to the dash to create a rolling home theater. Experience tells me that each of my four lifetime wrecks were caused by my inattention and distraction. I don’t worry about being bored while driving a car– I worry about being too entertained by what’s inside, and too inattentive to what’s coming.

    • 0 avatar

      +1  Very well said, and I couldn’t agree more. Excellent points about the simple lines, visibility and comfort with the A-pillar, and especially about the video screens and other distractions. Keep it simple, that’s my preference.

      • 0 avatar

        My old New Beetle has a very thick A-pillar, but it’s less of a problem because it’s so distant from the driver. Also, because it’s nearly vertical. A “fast” pillar, such as in the Prius or the Honda Civic, is inevitably a longer pillar that partially obscures visibility for a wide angle, were lurks unseen dangers such as pedestrians and other cars at intersections. Makes me feel like a draft horse with blinders on. It seems like a perilous combination- cars that are harder to see out of, and interiors filed with chrome, busy details and bright video screens keeping us entertained and plugged in to the web, right up until the point of impact.

  • avatar

    It’s the only car besides the Focus RS that I have any interest in seeing in person. I love the black and red seats!!!

  • avatar

    Holy crap am I seeing things? Red in the interior! Say it isn’t so. The car looks to be a good update on the previous model. Lets hope the drivetrains are improved.

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