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Beetle won’t hurry Down Under

VW prepares to launch next Beetle in US, but Australians will wait another year

12 Jul 2011

VOLKSWAGEN has released more details of its next Beetle two months before it goes on sale in North America in September, but Australians will have to wait at least a further 12 months for the redesigned German automotive icon.

The first all-new Beetle since 1998 made simultaneous global debuts in Shanghai, New York and Berlin on April 18, when VW said it would go on sale in Australia some time in 2012.

Now, however, Volkswagen has confirmed to GoAuto that Australia will be among the last markets in the world to gain access to the more muscular new Beetle hatchback, which will not arrive here until late next year.

VW Group Australia’s general manager for press and PR Karl Gehling said it was not unusual to have a 12-month delay between the global launch and a model’s release in Australia.

Nor will any of the 600 Black Turbo and White Turbo launch editions destined for the US and Europe be made available here, because they will not be in production by the time Beetle sales commence here.

The later-than-expected local release of the next Beetle means Australian VW showrooms will be without the model that introduced the ‘Volkswagen’ name in 1938 – and which was produced in the Clayton factory now occupied by HSV between 1954 and 1976 – for more than a year.

3 center imageLeft: Beetle Black Turbo.

While limited-edition Miami and BlackOrange versions of the 13-year-old New Beetle remain on the official VW price list, only a handful of examples remain in dealer stock.

Although 21.5 million Beetles have been built in the past 73 years, VW sold just nine Beetle hatches last month for a total of 91 this year, along with 28 New Beetle Cabrios.

Volkswagen issued a press release yesterday in Germany stating Australia and New Zealand would receive all three specification grades of the new three-door – Beetle, Design and Sport.

However, Mr Gehling said that was a mistake and that just two trim levels will be offered here for the next Beetle, which loses the current model’s ‘New’ prefix.

That means that, as in China, only mid-range and flagship versions of the 2012 Beetle are likely to be sold in Australia, where the engine line-up is yet to be revealed.

As we’ve reported, a total of five Euro 5-compliant transverse engines will be available under new Beetle’s bonnet – not its tailgate, as with the original air-cooled rear-drive folk’s wagon – in Europe, including two direct-injection TSI petrol engines, a US-only 2.5-litre petrol engine and two common-rail TDI turbo-diesels.

All engines will be available with six-speed manual and dual-clutch DSG transmissions, including the entry-level 77kW 1.6 TDI that returns combined EU fuel consumption of just 4.3 litres per 100km and CO2 emissions of 112 grams per kilometre.

Combining idle-stop and battery regeneration technologies from VW’s BlueMotion parts bin to return just 5.5L/100km will be the 77kW Beetle 1.2 TSI, while the Beetle 2.0 TSI – fitted as standard with an ‘XDS’ electronic differential lock – delivers 147kW and consumes 7.4L/100km.

Also likely to come to Australia is the Beetle 103kW/320Nm Beetle 2.0 TDI that consumes just 4.9L1/00km, while Europeans will also have access to the Beetle 1.4 TSI, which delivers 118kW, returns 5.9L/100km and comes with a seven-speed DSG auto.

ESP electronic stability control, ABS brakes and six airbags will be standard for all Beetle models, along with what VW claims will be one of the strongest small-car bodies in the business, with torsional rigidity of 26,000Nm per degree.

Riding on a longer 2537mm wheelbase, the 2012 Beetle is substantially larger but lower than before, measuring 152mm longer at 4278mm long, 84mm wider at 1808mm wide and 12mm lower at 1486mm highLuggage space grows from 209 to 310 litres – and a total of 905 litres with the two-occupant rear seat folded – and although its flatter roof reduces interior headroom by 38mm, the outgoing Beetle’s half-circle roofline offered plenty of cabin space.

While an eight-speaker dual-tuner sound system will be standard, an extensive premium options list will include an integrated CD/DVD stacker with SD card slot, 30GB hard-drive, voice control and a 6.5-inch colour touch-screen.

Also available will be bi-Xenon headlights, LED running lights, a row of three round gauges (oil temperature, clock/stopwatch and boost pressure), an 80 per cent larger panoramic glass sunroof, keyless entry/start and – perhaps only for 147kW turbo-petrol models – sports bucket seats with cross-stitched red leather facings, a Golf GTI-style flat-bottomed three-spoke steering wheel and 19-inch machined-face multi-spoke alloy wheels.

The new Beetle will be built alongside the sixth-generation Jetta sedan – with which it shares its PQ35 platform – at VW’s Puebla plant in Mexico, where convertible and range-topping R versions are also expected to be produced from later next year.

VW will launch the new Beetle in the US in September/October this year, before it hits Europe in October/November and Asian nations in February 2012. South American markets will be the last to take delivery in late 2012 or early 2013.

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