New 2012 Beetle toughens up
Sorry ladies, the oh-so-cute flower vase that was such a sweet, touchy and feely part of the New Beetle is no more. Gone too is that cartoonish profile with a roofline that looked more like an upside-down Tupperware mixing bowl. With Volkswagen's all-new 2012 Beetle hitting stores in early October, cute is out, macho is in. When the New Beetle came out in 1998 it was a massive hit. They sold over 80,000 in the first year. Everyone wanted one.But as with all fashion accessories – yes, we're talking about you Paris Hilton – they don't last forever. With this third-generation Bug, what Volkswagen's designers did to widen its appeal was add a big six-pack of muscle. They made it longer, lower and wider. They flattened the hood, stretched the roofline, raised the waistline. It's all-change inside too. That crazy-deep dashboard has been replaced with a more conventional, more upright version. More important, with that Conehead roofline gone, there's now much more headroom for those in the back seat. Initially, Beetle Three will be offered with a couple of engine options. First up is a 2.5-liter, 170-horse inline five-cylinder that's mated to a six-speed auto. Prices for that kick off at just $18,995. More fun and feisty is the Turbo, powered by the much-loved 2.0-liter 200-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder. It's available with either a six-speed manual, or VW's cool, twin-clutch DSG six-speed auto. Base price for that is $23,395. I just had a quick preview drive in the new Turbo, and it's a blast. It's good for 0-to-60 mph sprinting in a quick 6.8 seconds, yet it'll average 30 mpg on the highway. And it has a nimbleness and agility that comes close to that of the hot-shot Golf GTI. Whether this new Bug will have the males of the species lining up to buy it, I'm not so sure. But vase or no vase, women will still adore it. Tampa-based auto writer Howard Walker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.