Friday, March 4, 2011

Car Of The Day: March 4, 2011

Today's car of the day is Johnny Lightning's 2001 Volkswagen New Beetle.

The Volkswagen New Beetle is a small family car, introduced by Volkswagen in 1998, drawing heavy inspiration from the exterior design of the original Beetle. Unlike the original Beetle, the New Beetle has its engine in the front driving the front wheels and luggage storage in the rear. In May 2010, Volkswagen announced that production of the current body of the New Beetle will cease in 2011. A redesigned model will replace it.

For more information and pictures of the real car please visit: Volkswagen New Beetle

The New Beetle, beloved at first, but it seems that the popularity has faded withe now ancient design.

Strong public reaction to the Concept 1 convinced the company to develop a production version which was launched as the New Beetle in 1998, based on the Golf IV's larger PQ34 platform. The New Beetle is related to the original only in name and appearance (including the absence of a car emblem script with the exception of the VW logo). A convertible was added in mid year 2003 to replace the Volkswagen Cabrio.

The New Beetle carries many design similarities with the original VW Beetle: separate wings, vestigial running boards, sloping headlamps and large round tail lights, as well as a high rounded roofline. It is assembled currently in VW Puebla factory in Mexico.

The Volkswagen New Beetle was the car that started the retro-futurist design craze. It was a modernized version of the legendary VW Beetle and struck a chord with consumers who had grown tired of standard conservative car designs and had fond memories of the "Bugs" from their youth. However, this modern version, being much more complicated than the simple design of the original "people's car" envisioned by Porsche, was prone to several machanical defects. The automatic transmission, for example, is a well-documented issue, often failing after only a relatively short period of use (see:hard-shifting issue on VW Bug) and requiring expensive repair. Other issues associated with the retro design are poor access to even simple maintenance areas, making changing a front bulb for example, an expensive service operation. The convertible was also prone to failing window mechanism, which requires the window to "shuffle" when opening and closing the door in order for the window to seal with the roof due to the pillarless door design. The power roof mechanism also suffered from a very complex mechanism of pulleys and plastic flaps in order to simply cover and uncover the folding structure. This was "rectified" by VW in the 2006 model onwards by removing one plastic cover panel from the mechanism, reducing failure likelihood, but at the expense of esthetics.

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