Volkswagen Beetle mans up for the 21st century

The new Volkswagen Beetle for the 21st century

This might cause a little crease between the eyebrows — the new Volkswagen Beetle is the successor to the Volkswagen New Beetle.

Let me explain. There was the original Beetle called Type 1 which won over the masses dating back all the way to 1938.

Then it was the New Beetle of the late 1990s which became a car cult and an automotive icon with its cute curves and doe-eyed headlights.

For easier understanding, this third-generation Beetle is referred to as the 21st Century Beetle.

The New Beetle was more of a ladies' car, but the new Beetle, which is still a three-door hatchback, is now charged up with masculinity. For one, there used to be a flower vase on the dashboard which holds a flower that matches the colour of the car. That has been taken away.

Retaining its classic retro styling with its round headlights but now bearing a masculine theme in mind, the new Beetle takes on a stronger and more dominant profile with new proportions — it is now wider, lower and longer.

In line with Volkswagen's global initiative of downsizing their efficient TSI engines for maximum power and minimum fuel consumption, the new Beetle houses a 1.2-litre TSI power plant. Don't underestimate this "small one"; it is a turbocharged "small one" that delivers a maximum of 105bhp at 5,000rpm and 175Nm from 1,550 to 4,100rpm.

Making it a more enhanced recipe of efficiency, the new Beetle has the renowned Volkswagen's seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox (known as the DSG). All these give the new Beetle a rather spirited drive, with more spunk than before and with just that slight turbo lag.

The inside of the new Beetle now has an extra glovebox, just like the original Beetle, above the usual glovebox for more storage space. Its seating system has been completely revamped, with a larger boot capacity of 310 litres (from the previous 209) that can be expanded to 905 litres when the rear seats are folded down.

Fans of rock music would know the late Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton, who are loyal users of Fender guitars. Fender, the US producer of stringed instruments and amplifiers, has exclusively collaborated with Volkswagen to offer a Fender sound system in the new Beetle. Available as an option, this sound system has an interior ambience lighting of three colours — red, white and blue — with illumination in the door trim and light rings around the loudspeaker boxes in the doors.

The radio-navigation system which comes with a 6.5-inch touchscreen, DVD player, voice control, SD card slot and 30GB hard drive is also offered as an option. So is the electric panoramic sliding and tilting sunroof.

Colours of the new Beetle are bolder, with stark Tornado Red and Saturn Yellow for example, as opposed to softer, more pastel colours like Sunflower Yellow and Aquarius Blue of the New Beetle.

Some female friends of mine who are New Beetle owners find it sad that that the new 21st Century Beetle has traded in its skirt for a pair of smart jeans. Male friends I spoke to though, welcome the new change in the Beetle, stating that this is the right direction to take for the futuristic 21st century.

Volkswagen Beetle 1.2 TSI — Technical Specifications
1,197cc 4-cylinder in-line turbocharged
Transmission: 7-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox
Max Power: 105bhp at 5,000rpm
Max Torque: 175Nm at 1,550 — 4,100rpm
0-100km/h: 10.9 secs
Top Speed: 180km/h
Distributor: Volkswagen Group Singapore
Price: S$152,800 with COE

Passionate about cars and motorsports, Cheryl Tay is a familiar face in prominent local, regional as well as international automotive titles. More of her at

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