Volkswagen Unveils ‘Most Fuel Efficient Beetle Ever’

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It’s wider, lower, and longer, and Volkswagen says it’ll do up to 40 on the highway or 29 in the city: Meet the new 2012 Beetle, a sleek, slightly flatter, still curvy head-turner Volkswagen AG calls its “most fuel-efficient Beetle ever.”

It’s still a Beetle of course, it just looks a trifle sportier–less like a fat little beetle “bug” than, well, a slightly squashed and elongated one.

“The Beetle is now characterized by a clean, self-confident and dominant sportiness,” said Volkswagen design lead Klaus Bischoff in a statement. “The car not only has a lower profile, it is also substantially wider, the front hood is longer, the front windshield is shifted further back and has a much steeper incline,” adding that all of the above lends VW’s reinvented reinvention “a new dynamism.”

What’s new under that larger hood? You’ll be able to pick from a turbocharged 2.0 liter 4-cylinder TDI Clean Diesel (the 40 highway /29 city mpg version), 2.0L TSI turbocharged gasoline, or 2.5L 5-cylinder gasoline engines, and you can go either 5-speed manual or 6-speed automatic.

The body includes a wider wheelbase, LED headlamps, and a spoiler (standard with the 2.0L TSI engine), as well as interior features like a Fender Premium Audio System, an 80 percent larger glass sunroof that blocks virtually all ultraviolet radiation and “92 percent” of thermal energy, and an automatic safety feature that kills electricity to the fuel pump in the event of a collision.

Looks for this one to launch (with pricing) sometime fall 2011. And as with prior Beetles–assuming demand outstrips supply–expect to pay premium coin for firsties.