It’s difficult to redesign a car based on a classic. That’s probably why it’s taken Volkswagen more than a decade to update the New Beetle. The 2012 Beetle is new from the ground up, but it’s plain to see the design is evolutionary, with the trademark fender bulges and bug-eyed headlights still intact.
The interior gets a full overhaul as well. Unlike the outgoing Beetle, there doesn’t seem to be as much whimsy inside, with a more familiar resemblance to other recent VWs like the new Jetta and Passat.
Under the hood, U.S. drivers will get three engine options, which is again similar to the new Jetta lineup. There’s the base 2.5-liter five-cylinder with 170 horsepower and 22/31 mpg city/highway with a five-speed manual and 22/29 mpg with a six-speed automatic.
A turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder puts out 200 hp and get 30 mpg on the highway. That will be the sporty option.
The engine that will likely generate the most interest will be the 140-hp, turbocharged 2.0-liter diesel engine that makes 236 pounds-feet of torque. However, diesel fans will be surprised that this engine gets 29/40 mpg and 33 mpg combined in the 2012 Beetle, which is less than the Jetta TDI’s 30/42 mpg.
Still, the Beetle is more about style and history than topping the performance or fuel-economy spec sheets. To determine if it wins in that regard, look at all the pictures below or see it in person. We’ll have a firsthand report on the 2012 Beetle later today. Our New York International Auto Show coverage continues all week.