Back in 1998 people didn’t have a lot of choice when it came to buying a truly unique and different, averagely priced new car. That was until Volkswagen unveiled the new Beetle to the world of course, sure it may just have been a MkIV Golf underneath but who cared when it looked like a slightly tubby throwback to “the peoples car”, and the hippies best four wheeled friend.
The new VW Beetle was the first retro inspired car to make it to mass production, however over the past decade it has lost out to new retro rivals. It doesn’t take a genius to work out that I am talking about the new Mini and Fiat 500. So can VW entice buyers back to its original retro ride with the release of the new, new VW Beetle in 2012?
Now I’m going to base this article purely on aesthetics firstly because the Beetle is going to benefit from Volkswagen groups already excellent range of TSI and TDI engines. Secondly, surely the whole point of a retro inspired car is its aesthetic appearance. The new car takes cues from the outgoing model with its overall curvy appearance, however it features a sleeker, lower roofline and VW’s now trademark wide horizontal slatted grill down under its headlights. This helps to tie the obviously unique looking Beetle in with the rest of the VW range. The rear end in my opinion looks slightly TT-esk with its sloping rear window, angular rear lights and wide stance, which is no bad thing. The interior looks equally as good, with its retro inspired upward opening glove box and it will no doubt benefit from VW’s superb ergonomics, feel, fit and finish.
All this is fabulous and it does look excellent but has VW still missed the mark with its new Beetle. For starters it’s likely to be big, like the Golf so can’t really compete with the Mini and 500 who sit in the small city car niche. Secondly is it really that cool? Fair enough it looks good in a sleek Scirocco kind of way but is it cool in a Mini and 500 cutesy retro kind of way? I personally do not think so; it’s still all so boring and Germanic almost ordinary looking. Its new guise may have manned it up a bit and there certainly isn’t space for a flower in the dash anymore but only time will tell if it can steal some retro themed sales away from those irritatingly cool little rivals.