With only two doors and diminutive dimensions that can make our own small Maruti look like a big brother, the VW Beetle however has the last laugh, perhaps a cynical one, at bigger cars out there.
The Beetle is not simply a car, but a car with a history of rebirths. While in the first birth, it was the vehicle of the common man, in its third birth, the Beetle has quite a load of unique features that takes it well into premium category.
The third generation Beetle costs Rs 39 lakhs, steep by 'common man’ standards. The price, however, adds to the snob appeal of the car, which may be touted as a style statement or fashion icon. The fact remains that no other car, however big or expensive, can quite match the unique aura and pull of the Beetle.
From 1938 to 2003, about 2.1 billion Beetles hit the road. While the first Beetle had rear, air-cooled engines, the modern avatar has a 1.4 litre motor in the front.
The old Beetle
During the early thirties, German two-wheeler maker, Zundap, and Porsche came together to create the first impressions of the Beetle on the drawing board. The idea that started the move was Hitler's plan to offer a car to middle-class citizens at the cost of a bike. It was supposed to be a cheap transport for families.
Happy at the first designs of Ferdinand Porsche, Hitler ordered the Volkswagen to be manufactured. However, when the war started, production was stalled and the factory was pressed to make arms than cars.
The Volkswagen factory, which survived the war and bombings, came under US control and in 1943, it was given to the British. The machinery was put for sale to raise money to help the battered economy. However, no one was prepared to purchase the factory. During all these period, the car retained its egg shape and rear engine. While engines were upgraded from 1000 cc to 1600 cc, the air-cooled engines were a unique feature of the car.
The new Beetle
The new Beetle made its appearance in 1994 when the first prototype was released. While it retained some nostalgic elements, it was a totally different car. The engine made its transition from the back to the front, while the old shell, which could be removed after undoing a few bolts, was replaced with the Volkswagen Golf platform. It went into production in 1998 only to be replaced with a newer, refreshed version.
The visual appeal is the USP of the new car. The egg-shaped buggy could confuse you on which is the front and back of the vehicle. You would start debating on the need for size because ingress and egress is easy and once you get inside, you feel as if you are sitting inside a big car. Body coloured dashboards give a classic feel and front seats are spacious. ABS, EPS and air bags offer comfort and safety. The sound system is of quality.
India gets the 1.4 TSI petrol engine in the Beetle. The 110 KW engine has oodles of sporty grunt and the seven-speed automatic DSG gearbox adds to the ease of driving around the bug that is sure to attract eyeballs anywhere it is parked.
Test drive: EVM Motors 9895764023