My father once had a VW Beetle, as did much of America. He loved the car for its reliability, and hated just about everything else about it. Believe it or not, they were still making old style Beetles in Mexico up until 2003. When they finally shut down the last assembly lines, over 21 million of the little buggers had been built. That’s just how popular “the People’s Car” was across the world. VW, of course, has the New Beetle now and, well… meh. It seems popular with high school students and secretaries, and not much else. The coolest New Beetle I have ever seen had a rocket attached to it.
But the New Beetle is getting old, and a replacement is due soon. Volkswagen has its sights set clearly on MINI, and the new New Beetle could get both a turbodiesel and a hybrid drivetrain to lure customers looking for more fuel efficiency.
VW has it in their head that they are going to rule the car world within the next decade. That means they have to dethrone the MINI Cooper, and the next Beetle will be gunning for the precocious British runabout. Inspiration for the next Beetle is likely to come from the 2005 Beetle Ragster convertible concept (pictured above), though it is longer than the MINI by about two feet. The next generation Beetle will likely be squarer, slightly meaner looking, with a revised suspension and drive train.
But what would really help set the next Beetle apart would be fuel efficient drivetrains. The MINI Cooper gets about 37 mpg on the highway with a manual transmission… whereas the Beetle gets just 28 mpg. But VW has a big thing for diesel engines, though the American Beetle doesn’t have any available right now. But a 2.0 liter turbodiesel engine would be both fun and fuel efficient. Or if you are into the whole hybrid thing, a 1.4 liter petrol engine hooked up to a 27 horsepower electric motor should provide gas mileage comparable to the MINI, if not outright better. Nothing has been made official, but such a move would make sense.
The New Beetle looks posed for a big comeback. MINI better watch out.
Source: AutoWeek | Image: VW