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Shanghai motor show 2011: new VW Beetle

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This is the new Volkswagen Beetle, unveiled today at the Shanghai motor show. Yes, new. The first thing you'll notice is the slightly hotch-potch styling. The third generation of the little bug gets a new face, blending VW's ubiquitous corporate front with the unmistakable grinning eyes of the Beetle on top. Rear three-quarters takes us back to the first-gen model, making it more car-like than its predecessor. And sportier too, apparently. Volkswagen says the exterior was designed by Marc Lichte, who also did the Scirocco, while underneath sits a Golf: new new Beetle pinches the Golf's platform and engines, right up to a 2.0-litre turbo with 200bhp, top speed 140mph.

This frenetic top end in a car never initially designed to do such speed necessitates a self-raising rear spoiler, dontcha' know. Once you've swallowed the looks, however, it's all top-notch VW inside. The dash combines every-VW-you've-seen together with an upwards-opening glove-box (remember that?) and a Panasonic/Fender hi-fi system. You can even option a triumvirate of gauges previously unheard of for a Beetle: oil temp, boost and stopwatch. Fancy that. It'll hit UK shores in January 2012 with two engines; a 105bhp and 160bhp TSI (emitting 139g/km of CO2) petrol, while the 200bhp diesel will land later on next year.


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