Volkswagen Beetle

Volkswagen went way back to the drawing board with its reimagining of the 2012 Beetle. The new Beetle--which is not to be called a "New Beetle"--draws its inspiration from the original car of 1938, but with a lower, flatter roofline. This gives the car a more aggressive stance. Overall dimensions have grown, which translates to more interior room for passengers. Those passengers get a combination of retro simplicity in the gauge layout, elegance in the quality of cabin materials and high-tech in the available gizmos and gadgets.

The Beetle comes in two basic trims--the base 2.5L and the Turbo. The base model utilizes a 170-hp, 2.5L 5-cylinder engine driving the front wheels through a standard 5-speed manual. The Turbo delivers 200 hp from a 2.0L direct-injected and turbocharged 4-cylinder. This engine is mated to a 6-speed manual. On 2.5 models, a 6-speed automatic with Tiptronic and Sport mode is optional, while on the Turbo buyers can opt for a 6-speed direct-shift (DSG) automatic. The dual-clutch unit offers drivers both fully automatic or semi-manual control.

The Beetle shares its underpinnings with the new Jetta, which include front struts and a rear twist-beam axle. Steering-feel will feel very familiar to those who have driven previous New Beetles, though the driving experience has changed significantly, thanks to the revised A-pillar angle and accordingly the abbreviated dashboard. The effect is to bring the driver closer to the action.

Base trims come nicely equipped with cruise control, keyless entry, 3-color ambient lighting, 6-way adjustable and heated front seats and a 50/50 split folding rear seat. On the technology front, Bluetooth hands-free connectivity and a media device interface with iPod cable are also standard.

Base models can be equipped with a powered panoramic sunroof and a Fender premium sound system and navigation.

Turbo models add a rear spoiler, painted 4-wheel disc brakes with red calipers behind special 18-inch Twister alloy wheels, variable electromechanical power steering, front MacPherson struts and a Cross Differential System, which helps prevent inside wheelspin when cornering. Inside, accents such as brushed aluminum-look pedal covers, sport seats, the 8-speaker sound system of the base car, cloth seating and special interior trim pieces.

Safety comes standard as well in all 2012 Beetles, with anti-lock brakes, dual front airbags and combined curtain and side front seat airbags.

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Editors' First Take

Volkswagen's #PinkBeetle special edition is a sure sign of the apocalypse

Andrew Krok

I am able to write through clenched teeth about a great many topics. But there's one thing that I cannot sit idly by -- the Volkswagen #PinkBeetle. Oh, yes, that hashtag is there on purpose. And you know what? I can't. I just...I can't. Not this time. This is what happens when you let the marketing team take over product planning.

The car itself is fine, because it's a modern Volkswagen and they're all pretty grand machines. This one isn't different underneath, packing the same 170-horsepower, 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine as the base Beetle. I don't even mind the Fresh Fuschia Metallic paint, as it's a breath of fresh air from a traditionally conservative automaker. Hell, I even dig the pinked-up take on the GTI's ubiquitous plaid seats.

I have no gripes about the standard 6.3-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. A standard backup camera, heated seats, keyless access and LED lighting? Sure. Those are all great and wonderful things. In fact, the only equipment niggle I have relates to the lack of a manual transmission.

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