Friday, September 23, 2011

2012 vw beetle

Volkswagen ramps up the launch of its 2012 Beetle -- now weeks from on sale -- with a new TV ad on Monday. Tagline: It's Back (as in sorry we missed you in 2011?).

But beyond the slap-happy good cheer, note this 2012 Beetle is driven by a young guy -- the kind VW sees as a potential buyer -- and he's solo. It's his car, and it's black, a turbo with a spoiler and without a bud vase (dropped for the 2012).

Black seems to be the color of choice for the launch. The 2011 Super Bowl teaser ad "Black Beetle" featured an animated black beetle (the insect kind), ending with a blacked out tease of the new profile. And the limited-edition, pre-order launch model seen here is a black-on-black turbo.

All that aside, Drive On had seat time in the 2012 recently and thinks it does deserve a broader look by folks (including guys) looking for a fun coupe that doesn't break the bank (about $19K with shipping to start).

A full Test Drive review is coming Friday. But we can tell you the car is greatly improved -- upgraded interior, finish and details -- and is fun to drive, even in its tamer, non-turbo form. It's now stylish rather than cute, but still retro-cool -- we like the body-color dash panel that evokes the Beetle of yore. The 2.5-liter five adds 20 horsepower (now 170) and the 2.0 turbo returns with 200 horses. Mileage is up, too: 22 city, 31 highway with manual. A 40 mpg diesel is due next year.

One marketing nit: The last Beetle was officially the New Beetle. So VW has taken to calling the 2012 Beetle not the "new Beetle" but "the 21st-century Beetle." Maybe, but the New Beetle only rolled out in 1998 and spent a decade of its life as the first 21st-century Beetle.