Volkswagen's third generation Beetle unveiled
By Mike Hanlon
April 18, 2011
The new Volkswagen Beetle greeted audiences across the world in a truly global launch today. The "people's car" entered its third generation simultaneously in Shanghai, Berlin and New York, with 22.5 million units sold over 73 years. The new Beetle comes with a choice of three engines: a more fuel-efficient version of the 2.5L five cylinder petrol engine, a 2.0L TDI and a 2.0L TSI turbocharged petrol engine, the latter two offered with an optional six-speed dual-clutch DSG transmission.
The sporty 2.0L TSI also comes with an XDS cross (limited-slip) differential which electronically monitors input from various wheel sensors and, in the event of wheel spin, feeds additional torque to the wheels with most traction. The newest Beetle is 3.3 inches wider and six inches longer and will hit showrooms in North America in September, Europe in October and Asia next February.
In keeping with automotive trends, the new Beetle will be offered with an extensive range of personalization options, including a panoramic roof, extensive audio system choice (including a premium 400W system from Fender), and an annual theme model.
The transparent, panoramic tilt/slide glass sunroof is 80 percent larger than on the previous model with the insulating glass blocking 99 percent of UV radiation and 92 percent of heat energy – at least this one won't cook you quite as thoroughly as many panoramic roof models.
The standard RCD 310 sound system comes with eight speakers while the optional RCD 510 comes with an integrated CD changer, an SD card slot and touchscreen. After three quarters of a century, the new Beetle is the first with an optional navigation system – the RNS 315 has a 5-inch touchscreen, CD player and SD card slot.
The top-of-the-line 400 watt Fender Premium Audio System offered is touted as "concert quality" and uses Panasonic directional sound speaker technology and adjustable interior ambiance lighting.
It's also the first time a Beetle has had keyless entry and Bi-xenon headlights. In its original air-cooled, rear-engined, rear-wheel drive configuration, the original Beetle became the longest-running single design automobile in history.