Vellum Venom: 2012 VW Beetle Turbo

Sajeev Mehta
by Sajeev Mehta
vellum venom 2012 vw beetle turbo

Please believe: car design school is a frickin’ bizarre place. The phrase “I’m surprised you are here and not in medical school” was thrown in my face several times at CCS. And this verbal diarrhea came from people who take your tuition and are supposed to help you become a designer! But can’t I, a fairly smart South Asian dude, be more than what you assume?

Or do stereotypes exist for a reason? Like the beliefs held about the vehicle in question?

The newest VW Beetle reminds me of that old “Design School Sajeev.” This Vee-Dub wants a change of pace from the stereotypes, and it’s done a fine job. After all, it spent far too much time as a stereotypical girly car…it needed a touch of beefcake for the next redesign.

Two worlds collide: the soft and girly demeanor of the Beetle remains, but there’s a nod to toned muscle in the bumper’s lower half. The nose is downright chiseled! And while the Beetle should never have a “Bunkie Beak” like the works of Mr. Kundsen, adding some tonal quality to the Beetle’s otherwise undefined bumper is a thoughtful touch. Even better, the muscles have a bit of chrome trimming that gives it an-oh-so subtle smile.

The foglights integrate nicely into that smile. And the bumper looks even better from a lower view. Children will love this. I imagine it saying “Hi” like the advertisements for the original Dodge Neon. It is undeniably cute, but not nearly as prissy as before.

Thrusting forward. The front clip itself is more than a little manly while the squared off, beveled hood adds more definition than before.

The Beetle’s schnoz is definitely growing up in the same manner as our first Vellum Venom subject: the Porsche 911. Check them both out from this angle.

The headlight’s eyelids are a little touch of retro flair that I truly adore. They are super-duper brand honest, and integrate very well into the headlight’s overall design. I love it when custom touches from the aftermarket receive a hat-tip from the OEMs, decades later. Nice job!

And the layers, textures and bullet like thrust of this lighting appendage work nicely with the bumper’s imagery. It’s about time that our love of plastic headlight castings really highlighted a brand, a model, or a design studio’s creativity. I first noticed it on the uber-pricey headlights of my HID-equipped Lincoln Mark VIII…and now it is everywhere! Technology FTW!

Yes indeed, the bumper is squared off and tougher, but the same is true for the green house. Note the hard, not organic bend in the A-pillar at the roof. This leads to a roofline that is no longer Astrodome-like. Which is far more mature than the last Beetle. Also note the bigger, meatier door. Even the fenders look a bit, well, hunkier?

Someone with more design experience than myself should chime in: what is this center panel called? It’s not a fender, or a hood. Rather, it is a cowl cover. Whatever, this hunk of metal that covers the cowl has three dynamic cut lines and one very, very static line. I would aim the cowl/A-pillar/Door seam with a downward trajectory so it hits the base of the DLO (daylight opening) instead. This gives a little more flow and excitement from up close. Maybe even from a distance!

Oh, and congrats for not having DLO FAIL with pointless black triangles. This is one time where German engineering and Design can rightfully claim a victory.

My apologizes to the VW fanbois, as I can’t remember the name of the original wheel design that inspired this hoop. You’d see this black and silver wheel spoke on everything from Beetles, Buses, 911s and 914s in the 1970s, and they translate well into the Dub generation. My only beef is the interrupted outer rim, those slots need to be pushed back so the design can “breathe” a bit. Job well done still, and I like the side marker’s matching curves against the wheel arches.

While I didn’t photograph a Bug with the retro wheels of the base model, I found them oversized and therefore out of proportion. Big discs are a pleasant nod to the past, but these Turbo wheels work better.

I assume this bodyside molding seeks to emulate the original’s classic running boards, and I guess that’s cool. I woulda gone more retro, with a fluted/ribbed top and a matte black finish. This is one time where if you’re wanna stick out, you might as well be LOUD and PROUD…son!

Like the hood bevel, the green house sports a hard recess around its perimeter. While I think the bevel is too long/deep at the quarter window, this is a significant improvement over the previous New Beetle. Now this roof is stylish, not soft. Perhaps rear seat headroom also improved, from the looks of it.

I quite like the meeting of quarter panel, fender and hatchback: the lines are fast and a touch on the muscular side. The Turbo’s spoiler helps too, in a proto-911 kinda way. The biggest improvement from this shot is most certainly the taillights. The dull, flat and fruity circles from the last model are history, now the Bug has a bit of deep and complex techo-industrial chic from the rear. And their larger size is in better proportion with the rest of the package.

If there was a bit more tumblehome (google it) to the green house, we’d have a more honest Beetle. Then again, whatever I am seeing here doesn’t look like a stereotypical Bug. It looks like a bad ass little compact car.

I wish the spoiler extended further down the hatch, and stuck further out. It would be a good “F U” to the rest of the world, adding to the masculinity seen elsewhere on the coachwork.

The rear bumper continues the theme from the front, deeper/lower and more masculine. Also note the squared off hatch corners with a hard bevel. Combined with the fender’s ability to give the Beetle more tumblehome than actually available, you have a mature redesign of an absolutely childish original. And with the bigger taillights in the right proportion, can I call this wee beastie a “Butch Machine” and get away with it?

Back to my deep and complex techo-industrial chic remark: these lighting pods are such an improvement over the previous design. Note the prominent “U” theme, complete with clear lights with the same vanishing point. The design is rich and deep in these pods, and they point to a well executed little vehicle. While not the cheapest small car on the planet–or especially reliable, in TTAC’s Piston Slap terms–this new VW Beetle simply appeals to me in every place where the original failed. This one is totally okay for a manly-man type of dude to own.

And thank goodness neither of us went to “Medical School.”

Thanks for reading and have a great week.

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6 of 53 comments
  • Secret Hi5 Secret Hi5 on May 14, 2012

    It's easy to avoid a plastic triangle when you have a static window.

    • See 2 previous
    • Sajeev Mehta Sajeev Mehta on Jul 27, 2012

      @Sajeev Mehta Nope...this is another reason why I gave up and bought one of the last Ford Rangers. I only partially kidding.

  • Junebug Junebug on May 14, 2012

    What IF it was RWD or AWD? And came with 250hp (easily with a chip)just thinking.......

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