Modern icon

Volkswagen third-generation Beetle will make young friends fast e’re happy to report that the design of the 21 st Century Beetle largely stays true to its initial concept: a sterner, masculine vision, and one that promised to look and feel fun. VW’s chief designer Walter de Silva realised that it was pointless trying to reinvent the old, iconic Beetle. It was created for a world that no longer exists. The 21st Century version is, well, 21st century. It’s larger, wider, bulkier and heavier than it was before. The wheel arches are less pronounced, and the roof is flatter and longer. We can admit it: this is a pretty car. Beetle owners will no longer get around in a cloud of smoke and shame.

This is not to say that it’s not, in certain ways, a pastiche of the very first model. Its front fascia boasts two glove boxes, as the first model did. Thankfully the silly flowerpot in the dashboard has been done away with but the chrome detail on the dial cluster and around the centre screen still remind you that you’re not in one of the regular VW vehicles.

The Beetle comes in three engine sizes: a 1.2-litre, two-cylinder job that is really suitable for city driving only, and two variations of a 1.4-litre, four-cylinder engine. Standard features include hill-hold control, electric windows and mirror adjustment, adjustable steering wheel, multifunction display and radio/CD player with eight speakers. The safety features include ESP {electronic stabilisation programme), daytime running lights, height-adjustable head restraints, dual front air-bags, side air-bags, a thorax air-bag and child-seat anchors. The panoramic roof is the car’s best feature, giving it a vaguely cabriolet-like feel.

Two packages are offered: Design and Sport. The latter features flashier wheels and paint detail from the VW Scirocco R and the Golf R.

Unfortunately, this car can be hard to live with for those who cannot abide a rough ride. It looks like it ought to belong to a younger person, and that is exactly how it drives. De Silva always wanted to create a new icon and the 21st Century Beetle will make fast friends among today’s youth.

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