Volkswagen's New Beetle: Its Engine's in the Front, But Its Heart's in the Same Place
5 January 1998Volkswagen's New Beetle: Its Engine's in the Front, But Its Heart's in the Same Place
DETROIT, Jan. 5 -- The New Beetle -- a car that began as a beloved design study called Concept 1 exactly four years ago -- made its highly anticipated worldwide debut at Detroit's North American International Auto Show today. Set to arrive this spring at Volkswagen dealerships across North America, the New Beetle proves that something very good in a past life can come back as something even better, something totally new. While it rekindles the magic of its legendary namesake, the New Beetle is not an update of the original but a completely new and modern car -- a Beetle driving forward into the 21st century, inviting us optimistically to follow. As a contemporary creation, the New Beetle is more than a ray of sunny originality in an all-too-serious car market, it is also very functional, with plenty of creature comforts and the very latest advancements in small-car safety. It is significantly larger than the original, both inside and out, and shares no parts with its predecessor. It is powered by a front-mounted 115 horsepower four-cylinder engine, or as an option, a highly advanced Turbo Direct Injection diesel that delivers an EPA rating of 48 miles per gallon on the highway and a driving range of nearly 700 miles. The New Beetle uses front-wheel drive and is equipped with a wealth of standard items, including CFC-free air conditioning, a pollen and odor filter, a six-speaker stereo with CD-control capability, beverage holders, an anti-theft alarm system, halogen projector-beam headlights, four-wheel disc brakes and a central locking system with remote. It can be ordered with electronic ABS brakes, alloy wheels, cruise control, leather seating, integrated fog lamps, heatable front seats, and one-touch up and one-touch down power windows. As a priority in its development, the New Beetle's advanced occupant safety system includes energy absorbing crush zones, pretensioning, front safety belts, front and rear headrests, daytime running lights, dual airbags and front seat-mounted side airbags. Based on Volkswagen's new Golf chassis -- Europe's number-one selling car -- the New Beetle is built to the highest standards. This is clearly expressed in its solid, one-piece appearance, which results from narrow panel gap tolerances in production. And by using state-of-the-art production techniques like laser welding, Volkswagen has given the New Beetle unmatched torsional and body rigidity. Its fully galvanized body allows for a 12-year warranty against corrosion or rust perforation. "Some may have predicted a retro car, but as you can see, the New Beetle is a completely modern design, almost futuristic. It is designed to appeal to people who fondly recall the past, as well as young people who have no connection at all to the original," said Clive Warrilow, President and CEO, Volkswagen of America, Inc. "Where the original Beetle provided basic transportation, the New Beetle is an upmarket, lifestyle vehicle. It's highly emotional, a car that makes the experience of driving fun again." Like most great ideas, the design of the New Beetle began as a dream. In the early 90s, Volkswagen's designers built a futuristic show car they called Concept 1 and unveiled it at the Detroit Auto Show in 1994. The response by those who saw it was universal: "build it." True to that original concept, the New Beetle's charm begins with its eye-catching but brilliantly simple and honest styling. Its silhouette is instantly recognizable; its overall shape thoroughly modern -- a harmonious convergence of smooth lines and pleasing geometric arches. The result is an unconventional visual statement of optimism, fun and individuality. As the successor to a heritage of universal acceptance, the New Beetle's design appeal is meant to be egalitarian, cutting across all possible classes and demographics. Detailed examples of the New Beetle's distinctive exterior design can be seen in the way the New Beetle's headlights and taillights sit directly into the body. The headlight housing is itself a special feature presenting a projector-beam halogen headlamp behind a clear, see-through polycarbonate lens. The smooth surfaces and strong lines of the New Beetle are not disturbed by the fenders and bumpers on the New Beetle, which are built with a special dent-resistant plastic, and are color-keyed, along with the mirror housings and door handles. A three-door hatch, the New Beetle's trunk lock is also cleverly disguised behind a chrome VW logo that swivels to unlock and offers an integrated handle. The New Beetle can be ordered in four non-metallic colors: White, Red, Black and Yellow. Metallic options are Silver, Bright Blue, Green and Dark Blue. The dimensions of the New Beetle prove it is no small car. It is 161.1 inches in length and 67.9 inches wide with a wheelbase of 98.9 inches. Inside, 96.3 cubic feet of total interior volume can be found. Front occupants enjoy massive headroom and legroom, and access to the rear seating is made easier by the design of the front seats, which automatically spring forward, up and out of the way when the folding lever is lifted. At 12 cubic feet, trunk volume can be expanded by using the New Beetle's folding rear seat. With a strong orientation to the future, the New Beetle's interior places its occupants comfortably in the 21st century. It is at once original, fun and cutting-edge -- an environment creatively sculpted from high quality textured plastics and textiles. In a playful nod to the past, the New Beetle interior offers a large assist handle above the glove compartment and retains two assist straps above the rear seats. From the driver's view, classic elements of the original gain a modern interpretation. One round instrument gauge is used to display the speed, rev counter, engine temperature and fuel gauge. All displays are illuminated by a glowing, indigo blue; against this backdrop, red indicator needles on the gauges create a vibrant aura. An especially original touch is the distinctive use of a bright finish on the steering wheel, gear shift, automatic shift knob and handbrake; as a cheerful accent, there is even a standard bud vase on the dash. In keeping with the contoured exterior, ventilation outlets are smooth and round, as are console controls for the tailor-made stereo and temperature settings. Throughout the cabin, controls are illuminated in red. Seats in the New Beetle are in keeping with Volkswagen's reputation for offering supportive and generously adjustable seating with headrests for all. Both driver and passenger can adjust for height with an ingenious ratcheting pump handle. The driver position is optimized with a standard tilt and telescoping steering wheel. Aside from a high quality velour cloth, seats can be ordered with optional leather or no-cost optional leatherette. Other details inside in the New Beetle include lighted vanity mirrors, integrated armrests, carpeted floor mats, a remote fuel filler and hatch release, electronic side mirror adjustments, tinted glass, heated side mirrors and door storage nets. Like the original, the New Beetle's driving experience is unlike anything else on the road. But driving the New Beetle is a new and invigorating experience, one that is a product of Volkswagen's most advanced technology. The result is a car that rewards its driver with the performance and fun expected in a modern German-engineered car. Like most of today's Volkswagens, the New Beetle uses a front-wheel drive layout and a transverse engine design located in the front. Performance in the New Beetle comes by way of two advanced powertrain options: a 115-horsepower, 2.0 liter four-cylinder overhead cam gasoline engine, and a high-tech Turbo Direct Injection diesel. The New Beetle's fuel-injected 2.0 liter uses a cross-flow cylinder head, developing 122 foot pounds of torque at just 2,600 revolutions per minute. This wide torque band provides strong mid-range performance with plenty of on-demand power. When equipped with the standard five-speed manual transmission, it is EPA rated at 23 miles per gallon in the city and 29 mpg on the highway. As an engine option, the New Beetle's TDI engine offers remarkable performance and unmatched economy. It utilizes a major advance in diesel technology where fuel is injected and ignited directly in the engine's cylinder head. This is accomplished by the use of an advanced electronic diesel control. In simple terms, it can be said the TDI engine is a "drive by wire" with no mechanical controls from fuel pedal to fuel injection. The result is a 90 horsepower diesel engine that provides a wealth of low end torque (149 ft. lbs. at 1,900 rpm), exceptional fuel figures and exhaust emissions that meet the stringent standards in the U.S. and Europe. In fact, the super efficient 1.9 liter TDI emits 20 percent less carbon dioxide than a comparable gasoline engine. Mated to these powerplants is a standard five-speed manual with hydraulic clutch or an optional four-speed, electronically controlled automatic transmission that employs adaptive learning to better personalize shift patterns according to individual driving styles. Like all of today's Volkswagens, the New Beetle expresses the German engineering passion of designing and building cars with exceptional road-holding qualities. It begins with an extra rigid body structure and four-wheel independent suspension system, both of which help give the New Beetle a rock-solid feel. The front suspension uses a MacPherson strut design with control arms, stabilizer bar and coil spring struts. The rear suspension employs a "V" profile independent torsion beam axle with integral sway bar and trailing arms. The torsion beam axle is mounted to the vehicle with Volkswagen's unique track-correcting bushings -- a feature designed to minimize unwanted steering effects. The New Beetle comes standard with power-assisted rack and pinion steering and 16-inch all-season tires. An Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) is optional, and standard stopping power is provided by large, power-assisted, dual-diagonal circuit ventilated front discs and solid rear discs. Active safety in the New Beetle comes from its precise handling, the security of front-wheel drive, advanced braking and other accident avoidance aids like daytime running lights (DRL). For protection when an accident can't be avoided, the New Beetle offers a highly advanced passive safety system that comprises a multitude of state-of-the-art safety features and structural elements designed to work together to help protect its occupants. This system begins with the New Beetle's exceptionally rigid body structure that includes energy absorbing crumple zones. In a severe crash, these deformation zones sacrifice themselves in an accordion-like fashion, absorbing the energy to help spare the critical central structure. This system works in concert with an advanced supplemental restraint system. In addition to front driver and passenger airbags, the New Beetle uses a new seat belt tensioning system that tightens and optimally positions the front belts within milliseconds of a severe crash. These three-point safety belts are also equipped with shoulder height adjustments. To help secure a child safety seat, which should only be used in the rear seats, automatic locking retractors (ALR) and emergency locking retractors (ELR) are provided. The New Beetle is among the first Volkswagens to utilize side airbags for front seat occupants. This system is integrated into the front seats for good reason: no matter where the front occupant adjusts his or her seat position, the airbag maintains its protective relationship. This cannot always be assured if the side airbag is installed in the door or the roof pillar. Side protection is further enhanced by special reinforcements and structural members, including anti-intrusion tubes and foam padding in the doors. Additional fronted impact protection comes from the steering system via a collapsible steering column and a steering wheel specially cushioned and designed to manage impact energy. Further details of how the New Beetle interior provides occupant protection are found in the absence of sharp interior edges, the recessed handles and control switches, crushable sun visors, a foldable rearview mirror and non-override door locks. Protection Plus Standard on the 1998 New Beetle is one of the most comprehensive customer care owner protection plans available to new car buyers. Volkswagen's Protection Plus includes a two-year/24,000 mile new vehicle limited warranty and the industry's best manufacturer's limited powertrain warranty at 10-years/l00,000 miles. Now, with the fully galvanized New Beetle, the Protection Plus package includes an outstanding limited corrosion warranty of 12 years with no mileage restrictions. In addition to the extensive warranties, Volkswagen dealers will perform all scheduled maintenance at no charge for two years or 24,000 miles. Roadside assistance is also provided for two years with no mileage restrictions. SOURCE Volkswagen of America, Inc.