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Volkswagen's much-improved Beetle is a more serious affair than the 90s version

18 Feb 2013

SINCE the 1990s are fashionable again, Volkswagen is trying to revive the post-modern Beetle concept with the infuriatingly named “The Beetle” – another front-drive four-seater Coupe-cum-hatch based on outgoing Golf running gear.

This time, though, the Germans are taking it more seriously, ditching the vase and adopting a longer, lower and meaner visage that tries to connect more authentically with the Typ-1 original.

It’s an improved Bug in every area, for sure. But in an era of the multi-niche Mini, Honda CR-Z Hybrid, Hyundai Veloster and Toyota 86, is there even any call for such blatant nostalgia?

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Model release date: 1 February 2013 to 1 March 2017

Previous model

1C Beetle

Released: February 2000
Ended: October 2011
Family Tree: Beetle

WITH much fanfare, VW released the long-awaited post-modern Beetle just weeks into the new millennium.

Based on the Golf IV-derived PQ34 architecture and using conventional struts up front and a torsion beam rear suspension system, the Mexican-made three-door four-seater Coupe with a rear hatch was powered initially by an 85kW/170Nm 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine, driving the front wheels via either a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission.

From September 2001, the range was expanded to include a 110kW/210Nm 1.8-litre turbo, adding much-needed performance to the Flower Power chariot, while a cheaper base car using a 75kW/148Nm 1.6-litre followed a few weeks later.

In mid-2003, a fabric-roofed Convertible arrived in revised 85kW/172Nm 2.0L guise, adopting a new six-speed Tiptronic auto, and carried through to 2011, taking on the Series II facelift changes from October 2005.

These were quite mild upgrades inside and out, but the Coupe Series II range lost the 1.8T and 2.0L petrol models for the continuing 1.6L, while a 77kW/250Nm 1.9-litre TDI turbo-diesel in five-speed manual-only form became the economy leader.

Special editions including the Ikon, Miami, Anniversary and Black-Orange sustained interest as the Beetle lost its fad-driven sheen, proving that the basic engineering underneath was no match for the quality driver-focussed charm of the arch-enemy Mini from BMW.

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