GirlDriver, USA

GirlDriver, USA
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Monday, April 18, 2011

VW Unveils Beetle

VW wants to sell a lot of Beetles, not just in America but in China and Europe. How many? I bet they're looking at a 50,000 here in the U.S. "We don't disclose the numbers," says Ranier Michel, Vice President of Product Marketing and Strategy, but it is very important to our volume growth plan."

Beetle is a 2-door hatchback. It is longer, lower and wider than the New Beetle, which was introduced in 1998. I thought the interior room was fine and there's good trunk space--a 4-5 bagger.

The new design loses its cartoonishness, conjuring the classic Beetle that America fell in love with in the 1960s. Michel believes that the new model will connect back to the classic Beetle. "I don't think there will be any confusion with the previous model. That model was good for its time and it was very successful, but this model is for now." Michel notes big opportunities for customization, lots of accessories, adjustable ambient lighting in car's interior, a Fender sound system, sporty fashion-y paint colors as things that people want today.

The front hood is longer, the windshield has been moved back is at a steeper angle. The rear of the vehicle replicates the lines of the original car but it has--without overreaching--a bold and modern feel. The driving position has been moved forward, the interior has cues from the old Beetle like the glove box integrated into the dash as well as a glove box below, the three round gauges for speedometer, tachometer and fuel in the instrument panel have big numbers and a welcome simplicity. In the turbo there are three additional gauges in the center for oil pressure, turbo and stop watch. The dash has color or a carbon look that gives it a quality feel. We did not see any mouse brown interiors in the show cars and I expect that VW will make all the interiors with a snappy, high-quality feel. The trim color on the interior will match the exterior paint--cool.

Think sporty and cool. You can get 19" wheels if you want.

On Sale and Pricing
Pricing hasn't been announced. I'm guessing in the $17,000-$18,000 range. It'll be on sale September/October. It will be built in Mexico. VW will sell this around the globe--lots of potential in Europe and China.

Beetle (it's official name, no article before it) will have three engines: 2.5L gasoline five cylinder, 2.0L TDI Clean Diesel, and 2.0L TSI Turbocharged engine. The 2.5L will come with a 5-speed transmission and an optional 6. The Clean Diesel and Turbo will come standard with a six-speed manual. An options is VW's 6-speed dual clutch transmission.

Fuel economy:
The four cylinder 2.0L TDI Clean Diesel engine produces 140 hp and 236 lb.-ft of torque. It meets all U.S. emission limits and offers manufacturer estimates of 40 mpg highway, 29 mpg city, and 33 mpg combined.

Two 2.5L five cylinder engine models. With 5-speed manual transmission,
estimates are 22 mpg city and 31 mpg highway. With a 6-speed automatic 22 mpg city, 29 mpg highway. The five cylinder engine produces 170 hp and 177 lb.-ft of torque.

The 2.0L, the sportiest model offered has 200 hp, 207 lb.-ft of torque and an estimated 30 mpg highway.

Intelligent Crash Response System, which initiates automatic safety protection in some types of collisions — the electrical supply to the fuel pump is shut off, the doors unlock and the hazard lights switch on. Electronic Stability Control (ESC) is standard, as are driver and front passenger airbags and Side Curtain Protection® airbags in front and rear.

It's a 2-door, limiting the access to the back seat, though once back there it's roomy. VW is dealing with quality problems. Their scores are coming back up. Jonathan Browning, VW president of North America says they are being diligently worked on, but it takes time to get quality back. VW has a great, professional serious focused team. I'm betting on them.

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