First Drive: 2012 Volkswagen Beetle volkswagen videos reviews first drives auto articles
2012 Volkswagen Beetle. Click image to enlarge

There will be two engines to start – well, almost to start – a 2.5-litre, 170-hp, 5-cylinder with a 5-speed manual or 6-speed automatic, and a 2.0-litre turbocharged 4-cylinder with either a 6-speed manual or a 6-speed Direct Shift Gearbox (DSG) automatic. A 2.0 TDI diesel will be coming later. The 2.5-litre engine is the standard for the two lower trim lines, Comfortline and Highline – the two with body-matched interiors – while the 2.0T makes the top trim Sportline sporty. The Sportline’s interior bits that would have been matched to the body colour are gloss black.

Our day wandering around the country side outside of Berlin was limited to driving a US-spec Sportline with the DSG transmission. It was a fun drive with the very responsive and torquey (207 lb.-ft.) 2.0T engine. Press down on the accelerator and the Beetle goes – right away. As well, the DSG lets you hold gears and shift where you want to make the most of the 2.0’s powerband. The car also displayed a nice balance on twisty roads, not like anything I can remember of the Type 1 and feeling a whole lot lighter and more nimble than the New Beetle of the past decade. Significant efforts have been made to reduce rear suspension weight, but the more powerful 2.0-litre cars have a heavier and sturdier 4-link setup.

First Drive: 2012 Volkswagen Beetle volkswagen videos reviews first drives auto articles
2012 Volkswagen Beetle. Click image to enlarge

Pricing will start at $21,975 for the 2.5-litre Comfortline with manual transmission and standard equipment that includes 16-inch alloy wheels, heated front seats and washer nozzles, air conditioning, cruise control, electronic stability control, leather wrapped steering wheel, gearshift and handbrake leaver. The Highline, priced at $24,225 with manual transmission bumps up the standard equipment with 17-inch alloys, ambient lighting, chrome interior and exterior accents, fog lights, keyless access, eight-way manual adjustment for the driver’s seat and a trip computer.

Pricing for the Sportline has been set at $29,025 with manual transmission and it is equipped with 18-inch alloy wheels, alloy pedals, red brake calipers, DSG paddle shifters with the DSG transmission, dual exhaust, leather, multilink rear sport suspension and rear spoiler.

A connectivity package ($675) and a panoramic sunroof ($1,400) is available for all, while navigation with the Fender premium audio system ($1,290) can be ordered for the Highline and Sportline.

However, when the cars go on sale October 9th, or if you are sufficiently impressed to order one sight unseen, you won’t be able to get the aforementioned Comfortline, Highline or Sportline. As part of this wide-open throttle worldwide launch strategy, Volkswagen is building a long series of nearly identical Beetles that will make fast delivery just that, fast.

First Drive: 2012 Volkswagen Beetle volkswagen videos reviews first drives auto articles
2012 Volkswagen Beetle. Click image to enlarge

The first 600 vehicles earmarked for Canada will be special edition Premiere and Premiere+ models equipped with the 170 hp 2.5-litre 5-cylinder engine. Premiere models, which will be priced at $24,475, will be equipped with what looks like a Comfortline level of equipment but with 17-inch alloy wheels and Bluetooth connectivity. Premiere+ adds 18-inch alloys, Fender premium audio and navigation system for $27,975. Once these Premiere models are gone, it’s back to the business of normal ordering.

The Beetle has survived to live another day. That’s about 27,000 days, give or take, since the first Type 1 Beetle appeared in 1938. How popular this new Beetle – not New Beetle, that car is now the old New Beetle – will be remains to be seen but even if it is as popular (or unpopular – it’s all relevant) as the New Beetle that came before it, it will still be a success. Such is the marketing power of an automotive icon.