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VW's Beetle gets its first major update in over a decade

When you think of Volkswagen's current Beetle, chick car is often the first thing that comes to mind. Volkswagen didn't do much to dispel that status when it gave a sneak peek at its third generation Beetle on Oprah Winfrey's talk show late last year (Volkswagen also at the time announced that it would be donating 275 2012 Beetles to the Oprah audience). 

Since November, we've only seen a silhouette shot of the 2012 Beetle along with a pretty interesting Super Bowl commercial that teased the vehicle. Now, Motor Trend has broken the 8AM embargo on the '12 Beetle announcement and posted pictures and information on the vehicle.

The '12 Beetle is clearly an evolution of the current model that burst onto the scene the United States in 1998. The roofline is less circular and carries on a more "chopped top" look first seen on the New Beetle Ragster concept in 2005 (the roof is lower by half an inch). The front of the '12 Beetle carries on with the familiar large "eyes", while the lower grille is more in keeping with more conservative models in the Volkswagen lineup like the '11 Jetta and the '12 Passat.

Overall width is up 3 inches on the new model while the overall length has been stretched by six inches. Cargo capacity has also been boosted, and now sits at 10.9 cubic feet. 

The engine lineup for the '12 Beetle should be instantly familiar to anyone that keeps up with the automotive world. The standard engine will be the 2.5-liter inline-5 that generates 170 hp and EPA ratings of 22/31. Two optional engines are available: the 2.0T which generates 200 hp and returns 30 mpg on the highway and the 2.0-liter TDI which delivers 140 hp, 236 lb-ft of torque, and EPA ratings of 29/40.

Pricing is not yet available for Volkswagen's latest chick car Beetle, but we'll be sure to keep you updated as information becomes available.

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RE: Poor Engine Choices
By kraeper on 4/18/2011 1:56:10 PM , Rating: 5
Ebay called to say your Geo Metro is ready.

RE: Poor Engine Choices
By Egglick on 4/18/2011 3:13:40 PM , Rating: 3
I could name off easily 6-8 cars with better gas mileage for probably 5k less than this will cost, and none of them are little Geo Metros. I'm guessing you aren't over the age of 25. Through the 70's, 80's, and early 90's, the average mid and full-sized V8 sedans had 130-170HP. Even the top Corvettes didn't make much over 200hp for years.

There's no reason a tiny VW Beetle needs 200hp when gas is going for over $4.25 a gallon. Consider that the original Beetles made about 54hp. Something like a NA 1.8L with 115-130hp would be plenty.

RE: Poor Engine Choices
By Keeir on 4/18/2011 3:55:45 PM , Rating: 2
Its somewhat of a myth that high horsepower=(much) worse fuel economy.

For example, I just went to the US VW site and compared the 2.0 (NA) with 115 hp Automatic Jetta to a 2.5 (NA) with 170 hp Automatic Jetta.

Guess what? The 170 hp engine had better fuel economy.

Going over to the UK VW website, I can pull up a variety of Golfs powered by TSI (gasoline) engines from 85 PS (essentialy HP) to 160 PS. Overall the 85 PS Manual gets only 9% better fuel economy than the 160 PS Automatic... yet the 160 PS Automatic is more than 4 seconds faster to 60.

Unfortunetely, in the US currently there is a ceiling to how slow your car can be... IMO if your slower to 60 than 10-11s, you better deliever Superior mileage. A normal gasoline engine just won't do that...

Heck, look at the Hybrid Fusion and the Hybrid MKZ. Both are significantly outsold by the V6 models... despite a huge difference in fuel economy and nearly no difference in initial purchase price.

RE: Poor Engine Choices
By Egglick on 4/18/2011 4:22:58 PM , Rating: 2
Most of those comparisons just show me that VW has somewhat poor designs (as far as fuel economy goes) for their small engines, or they have very inefficient transmissions. At some point you DO stop making any noteworthy gains in fuel economy because the smaller engines have to work harder (see Honda Fit vs Civic, Yaris vs Corolla).

I don't think there's any denying that a turbocharged engine uses more fuel than a naturally aspirated version of the same engine though.

22/31 for a car of this size is straight-up lousy. Other than the diesel (which is going to be at least a couple grand more), they offer only an Inline-5 and a Turbo-4. I stand by my assertion that this is a little too much motor for a car of this size, especially when they saw gasoline trends (could easily hit $5/gal this year) and the mileage numbers they were getting back. They should have offered a NA 4 cyclinder of 1.8-2.0L.

RE: Poor Engine Choices
By Keeir on 4/18/2011 5:04:23 PM , Rating: 2

Maybe you didn't read my post.

The current VW 2.0 NA 4 cylinder engine gets worse mileage with an Automatic than the 2.5 NA 5 cylinder engine.

Even if VW stuffed in thier best engines from overseas, you would be unlikely to break 25/35 in this car...


1.) Aerodynamic shape is relatively poor.
2.) Wieght - VW products tend to wiegh alot
3.) Tire selection

This car is not VW's ecobox car. Thats the Jetta/Golf/Polo (depending on your market).

Clear sacrifices have been made for external/internal design and "drivability".

This car is more comparable to say... a Mazda3 (20/28) than an Elantra (28/40).

RE: Poor Engine Choices
By Egglick on 4/18/2011 6:47:38 PM , Rating: 2
Like I said, if VW has a 2.0L 4-cylinder that makes only 115hp and has worse mileage than a 2.5L inline-5 (which gets 22/31 in this vehicle), then it's a terrible design and an embarrassment. They should either find the major flaw or scrap the engine.

I've got a Nissan 2.0L which is rated at 27/34 but in actual usage has been averaging over 32mpg mixed. That's with 140HP (not exactly a Geo Metro), and this is just one example. You've got 1.8-2.0L motors from Honda, Toyota, Ford, Hyundai, Kia, and Mazda which all put out a respectable 130-150hp and get significantly better gas mileage.

If VW has to put a 170HP motor into this little car because all their other motors are garbage, then I feel sorry for them. People who want sports cars aren't going to buy something that's stigmatized as a car for 17yr-old highschool girls. And if I wanted 22mpg around town at $4.25/gal, I'd drive a 10yr old Taurus.

RE: Poor Engine Choices
By Keeir on 4/18/2011 8:27:15 PM , Rating: 2

Your Nissan 2.0L gets such good mileage not because of the engine... but likely due to the CVT transmission.

In fact, the 6-speed Manual Transmission (on the Nissan 2.0L) is rated at just 24/31, or in other words, just barely better than the Beetle.

Throw in the Aerodynamic, Tire, and Wieght differences, and I doubt your Nissan 2.0L engine is significantly more efficient that the 2.5L VW engine (though by virtue for 4 versus 5, it will be slightly better in idle).

RE: Poor Engine Choices
By Jeffk464 on 4/18/2011 9:47:38 PM , Rating: 2
All the new nissans that come with a 2.0L have solid rear ends.

RE: Poor Engine Choices
By Egglick on 4/19/2011 3:05:14 AM , Rating: 2
I'm well aware of what the CVT does for the Nissan's mileage, and the fact that it came standard factored heavily into my decision. Many other car makers don't need a special transmission though, and honestly, whether the mileage improvement comes from the tranny or the engine doesn't make a whole lot of difference. The fact is, they had a desire to improve their fuel economy, and they took steps to do so.

I guess we'll have to agree to disagree. It's my opinion that 22/31 isn't anywhere near good enough for a tiny little car like this in 2012. If a 2.5L inline-5 making 170HP is their best option, then so be it. I'm not knocking the engine, just the application.

On the other hand, Volkswagen ought to be completely embarrassed of a 2.0L making only 115hp and worse than 22/31. That sounds like something from the early 1980's. I would quietly sweep that engine under the carpet and never talk about it again. I'd be interested to see what they're offering in Europe, because they've got to have something else.

RE: Poor Engine Choices
By goku on 4/19/2011 9:04:26 AM , Rating: 2
Keeir , if a car is getting better fuel economy with a higher displacement engine over its lower displacement brother, it's likely because the lower displacement engine is of an inferior (older) design. Assuming two engines are of the same age and design (save for displacement) the lower displacement model should nearly always get better fuel economy than the higher displacement model. The only reason you have a situation where a lower displacement model gets worse fuel economy than a higher displacement model is usually can be for one of three or all three reasons..

1.The smaller motor is a performance tuned model and the bigger motor is just a vanilla model
2.The smaller motor is of an older and more inferior design compared to the newer motor
3.The smaller motor is paired with an inferior or at least less fuel economy friendly transmission than the bigger motor.

I'll give you an example of this.. For the '93-'97 Toyota Camry, mid cycle it received an engine update to its V6 model. The 2.2L and 3L engines (I4, V6 respectively) were of an engine design dating back to the early 1980s with fuel injection probably slapped on late in its lifecycle. So in 1994, Toyota finished development on its newer V6 engine now to debut in its Camrys. The Camrys with the old 3L V6 engine design are rated at 19mpg combined and the Camrys with the 2.2L I4 engine are rated at 21mpg combined starting in the '93 model year. But, by 1996, with new 3L V6 engines and some very slight engine management changes were made to the existing 2.2L I4 engines, the 2.2L I4 Camrys were rated at 22mpg and the 3L V6 Camrys also being rated at 22mpg.
One example of this is with the 1996 Toyota Camry 2.2L getting 1mpg less on the highway but overall nearly the same as the 3L v6. So, to someone who isn't aware of the engine history and so the age of the engines in question, it would appear engine displacement is irrelevant when it comes to fuel economy.

Lower displacement engines tend to be in cheaper cars and so they usually receive refreshes that lag behind their higher displacement and henceforth more expensive bretheren. When you have bigger engines being the first to be refreshed is where you have a situation where the bigger engine ends up getting the same or slightly better fuel economy as the smaller, but older engine. This happens all the time, at least three times with the Camry. The 93-97 Camry mid cycle refresh, the 01-06 mid cycle refresh and at the release of the 2007 Camry where the V6 Camry got a new engine that included dual VVTI while the 2.4L I4 Camry only had VVTI on the intake valves until 2010 when the I4 Camry got upgraded to that of a newer engine design which not only bumped up the displacement to 2.5L but added on dual vvti (variable valve timing on the intake AND exhaust valves). What I only briefly covered in all of this is that in 2007, the V6 and I4 Camrys had similar fuel economy because the V6 had the latest engine design while the I4 Camry had a decade old engine design.. The V6 Camry in '07 is rated at 23 and the I4 Camry at 24mpg.. But by 2010, the I4 Camry got a refresh with the newer engine that included dual VVTI and an increase in displacement which not only improved peak HP to 180 from 160 but also gave the Camry a fuel economy boost from 24 to 26mpg. One thing I left out which IS a factor is that the '07 I4 Camry has a 5spd transmission and the '10 I4 Camry along with the engine refresh got a 6spd transmission. The potential fuel economy improvement by going with a 6spd is undeniable, however more gears is usually for the benefit of improving city economy and the newer I4 Camry also saw an improvement of 2mpg on the highway. There are so many variables we could speculate and argue over but I'm going to instead try to wrap this up.

For two engines of the exact same design, the larger displacement motor is always going to use more fuel than the lower displacement one. The only reason one would see instances of a lower displacement motor getting worse fuel economy than a higher displacement motor is because the engine could be of a high performance design, the engine is of an older and inferior design and finally because of the transmission. As for the question on WHY we don't see more small displacement motors in cars running around in the United States.. That's because the auto manufacturers still aren't convinced that Americans (yes that means from Chile to Canada) are interested in a car that does 0-60 in more than 10 seconds. Frankly, I don't blame them since people in the U.S are constantly trying to have their cake and eat it too, with the deficit and national debt as a perfect example.

RE: Poor Engine Choices
By RussianSensation on 4/18/2011 6:54:24 PM , Rating: 2
Not everyone purchases a car as an appliance. Sure there are plenty of cars which get better fuel economy such as the Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla, and even the new Elantra. Most of them are a yawn to look at and are 0 fun to drive. Life is too short to worry about an extra $1-2k a year in fuel costs. If you do, then obviously a car is just an appliance to you. In that case, you aren't the target market for a Beetle, Mini or Fiat 500, which are all cool funky modern cars.

RE: Poor Engine Choices
By JediJeb on 4/19/2011 11:11:33 AM , Rating: 2
It isn't necessarily true that the smaller engine should get better mileage. The 2.3L 4cylinder in my 79 Mustang got worse mileage than the 5.0L V8 in the same cars, simply because the car was too heavy and you had to gear it much lower for the little engine to pull it. Take the difference in weight between a classic Beetle and the new Beetle and you will see why they need larger engines now. Unless you want to do away with all the safety features and go back to the thin metal shell and frame construction you will never be able to get away with such lower powered engines.

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