We’ve just come back from Volkswagen’s highly anticipated Das Autoshow event earlier today at KL Convention Center. With the tag-line “The Icon is Back!”, it wasn’t difficult to guess which car VW were referring to. And in typical Volkswagen aplomb, the new Beetle made its debut to members of the media, and guests alike.
The original Beetle was first introduced to the world in 1938, and made its way to Malaysia in the 1950s. In 1968, local assembly of the Beetle was started here and to date, some 22.5 million units have been sold worldwide. Here in Malaysia, the original Beetle has a following of sorts, and Volkswagen Group Malaysia (VGM) took the effort to source out enthusiasts and got them to share their stories with the audience.
Moving back to the new car, it is simply called The Beetle and stays true to the silhouette of the original car. But as people evolve, so has the Bettle; now bolder, more dynamic, and less cute than the car it replaces. The car is 84mm wider, 12mm lower and 152mm longer, with 49mm wider track and 22mm longer wheelbase. In short, the new car is significantly bigger and wider than ever before, giving more headroom, legroom, and bootspace. There’s a new sleekness to the new car; I was never a fan of the previous model, but the new Beetle actually looks pretty good!
The entry level variant comes with a 1.2 TSI powerplant that is good for 105PS/175Nm. Paired to a 7-speed DSG box, the Beetle accelerates from Zerotohundred in 10.9 seconds, up to a top speed of 180km/h. These are respectable performance figures for a tiny engine, with the added bonus of lower fuel consumption (combined, 5.9-litres/100km) and lower emissions (137g/km CO2). Although the 2.0 TSI Beetle was present at the launch, it is not yet available for sale and VGM has not revealed a price.
A “Design Line” package is standard for the 1.2 TSI; this means 16-inch alloys, and matching body coloured dashboard and mirror housings. The interior maintains the ‘Beetle box’ of the original car – two glove boxes on the passenger side; one that swings upwards and another standard that opens downwards. Despite being a two-door, there’s plenty of space in the rear, with a cavernous boot (to boot, pun intended!) that can swallow up to 310 litres of luggage. With the rear seats folded flat, this swells up to a massive 951 litres.
Speaking at the launch, the Volkswagen Group Malaysia Managing Director Mr Ricky Tay said, “The Beetle was first seen on Malaysian roads back in the 50s and it soon became a popular choice among households. Malaysia and the Beetle have evolved together. The car is still a favourite among classic car enthusiasts and Beetle fans in the country.
“The last few months have seen us speak to numerous followers of the brand and the car, and we know that the Beetle is still a favourite among people. It is a car that transcends gender, class and background to become a favourite among people, thanks to its timeless shape and consistently evolving technology. The Beetle is truly the people’s car.
“An icon of popular culture, The Beetle underscores the very philosophy of the Volkswagen brand. It is only fitting that we launch this icon at a show like the Volkswagen.Das Auto. Show. We hope that patrons of the Volkswagen.Das Auto. Show 2012 will enjoy getting to know their favourite car as much as we have enjoyed bringing the experience to them.”
During the press conference, Mr Ricky Tay confirmed that there were no plans to CKD the Beetle here in Malaysia. We asked if visual upgrades would become available (1.2 TSI comes with halogen lamps whilst the 2.0 TSI has LED DRLs and bi-Xenons), and was told that they would consider it if there was sufficient demand. Mr Ricky also hinted the possible arrival of the Amarok, as well as diesel and hybrid models here in Malaysia in the distant future (check out the Touareg Hybrid as well in our gallery!).
The Beetle will be available in seven shades – Candy White, Tornado Red, Saturn Yellow, Reflex Silver, Deep Black, Platinum Grey, and Graciosa Brown. It is available at all authorized Volkswagen dealers nationwide and is priced from RM139,888.