Is Volkswagen’s New Beetle a design classic? Not in the conventional sense. It certainly manages a slick update of familiar Beetle looks. But in design and engineering terms, what’s new? It has a conventional steel body, water-cooled engine mounted transversely at the front, and a floorpan shared with a host of less esoteric vehicles in the VW family.
From a packaging point of view it’s barmy, flying in the face of all the progress made in maximising interior cabin space. And the Beetle looks it emulates were for a car with the engine in the back – not at the front. Compared with the cheap ‘people’s car’ concept of the original, this model will seem expensive – dearer than a family car with the same badge.
But even so, the New Beetle remains a plucky move that will surely do wonders for the VW image. Modern engineering of a platform strategy made it financially viable. But the car is a tribute to great engineering of the past – not the present.