'Volkswagen built one of the most successful cars of all time and never gave it a name.' This is a quote from the 2011 Shanghai Motorshow, where (at same time in New York and Berlin) the New Beetle was introduced. Somewhat hypocrital, as the term 'Beetle' was originally invented by an American importer (?)
However, the manufacturer wanted to have nothing to do with this term, in fact, avoided it like the pest. It is by the way, nowhere to be found in the early advertising of the Type 1, only later, when the boom was over. In the beginning, a pet-name for the car was something that VW wanted to avoid at all costs, the Type 1 was to be seen as an adult, serious vehicle and not a toy.
What does one learn from this? The look back at the past becomes milder and milder the more time passes. And VW seems to want to enjoy this look at the past in full. First there was the Micro-bus, (in Germany called the Bulli) whose pet-name was just as unpopular as the New Beetle. From the European point of view, one already foresaw the extinction of this model range.
However, this was not to be. VW was riding high, already in its first quarter of a year, more cars were sold than ever before. By the way, a good quarter of the production goes to China, and is also, to a large extent, produced there. It's quite possible that the Motorshow in China has become more important than those in Geneva or Detroit. VW will be investing more than 10 billion Euro in the years to come.
So, what's new about the 2011 Beetle? Well, it has become much longer, which benefits the rear-seat passengers, and above all, the styling. Gone with the rounded curves, the 'stretch' look is now in. In addition, it is wider and has a more upright windscreen, which conceals the front engine compartment better than in the old model. The dashboard no longer resembles the surface of a larger childs-cot.
The VW-stylists maintain that the new Beetle now has more in common with the old Beetle than with the old New Beetle. However, one thing will always remain. Those who are aquainted with the original model will be thinking, when they hear the engine sound, that somebody has installed the wrong engine. When will the clattering engine-sound, with which one could pick out the original from hundreds of other cars, finally be copied?
Slowly but surely the Beetle changing to a Golf coupe. The disadvantages of such, it has already, e.g. in the form of extra-wide doors and the resulting distress not only in car parks difficult to get out. Or the lack of rearward visibility. Or the rear seat height. Or rear seats for two only. After all, the luggage space is large enough and provided with a huge flap.
The risk is very low that the new Beetle is mistaken with the Scirocco. A reason for its purchase? Difficult. One must feel already very in the Gulf (during the test drive) as a member of a very anonymous mass of consumers to justify the additional cost and the privations of the Beetle. It's such a penalty, the golf-driving? 05/11