Rumours abound about the more masculine next-generation VW Beetle, which may not even be called a Beetle.
Volkswagen is set to drop the cutesy retro-infused image of its struggling New Beetle and instead adopt a more modern design aimed at targeting the car’s greatest challenger, the super successful Mini.
The 2005 Volkswagen Ragster concept could hold some of the secrets behind the next-generation New Beetle, which is set to be unveiled later this year before going on sale in 2011.
Reports quoting a Volkswagen insider claim the Beetle will drop its bubble-top look in order to appeal to a broader audience.
Autocar magazine quotes the person close to the project as saying that lovers of the current Beetle won’t be turned away by the next incarnation of the car. “The design will change slightly but there won’t be anything too surprising,” the source told the magazine.
According to the report, Volkswagen will focus less on retro-styling and more on the performance and driving dynamics of the New Beetle – which is a good thing, because the current model has aged. Fast.
Since arriving on the scene in 1998, the born-again New Beetle was instantly criticised for being impractical (there is limited rear passenger space and a tiny boot) and not faithful to the original concept. Based on the underpinnings and mechanicals of the Golf of the time, the Beetle reduced practicality and charged a premium for the three-door body.
Autocar’s VW insider claims the new car’s design “is more contoured, with additional structuring and defined feature lines used to help to break up the simple surfacing and unadorned character of the current model.”
That certainly fits in with the flat-roofed look of the Ragster, and Autocar’s insider says the new car’s windscreen angles will be “less extreme”.
Volkswagen will reportedly stay true to much of the current Beetle’s retro-inspired design – new versions of the rounded headlights and tail-lights should remain, and so should the car’s broad door-line.
There may also be a wide range of exterior options for the new Beetle, as the Volkswagen source says the company has “recognised the need to provide buyers with the opportunity to individualise their cars”.
The new model’s rethought underpinnings are expected to grow by about 100mm in length and will also have a longer wheelbase and wider track. This should assist the new Beetle’s driving dynamics, and the longer, wider stance should also give it a more dominant presence on the street.
The next model of the Beetle is to be assembled in Mexico next to the all-new Jetta (both based on Golf architecture), and both cars will share front-wheel-drive underpinnings as well as engine/gearbox combinations. A range of four-cylinder petrol and diesel engines will be available, and the Golf GTI’s 2.0-litre turbo engine may also appear in the range-topper.
The biggest change could be the name, as there are rumours suggesting Volkswagen will drop the “Beetle” moniker from its line-up, but Volkswagen Australia’s says that’s news to them.
The next-generation Beetle is due to make its international debut in November at the Los Angeles motor show and should be released in Europe by May 2011, with a convertible version to follow about a year later.