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Volkswagen Makes Splash with Beetle Concepts in NYC

German maker debuts Alltrack version of Golf

by on Mar.31, 2015

Volkswagen showed off four Beetle concepts at this year's New York Auto Show.

Volkswagen dove right into this year’s New York Auto Show with the Beetle Convertible Wave and three other concepts and a look at the all-wheel drive future of the Golf.

The German maker knows its customer base and listened when introduced the Golf SportWagen and it’s taking heed again with the new Alltrack version, which will hit showrooms next year as a 2017 model.

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“We have heard from dealers and customers that they want to see a Golf SportWagen with the all-terrain capability that comes from all-wheel drive,” said Michael Horn, President and CEO of Volkswagen Group of America, Inc. “We are delighted to introduce the SportWagen Alltrack in 2016 in the U.S.”

The new Alltrack gets VW’s 4Motion all-wheel drive system, an inch more ground clearance, wheelarch moldings, new bumpers and a higher-end interior. The all-wheel drive system uses the latest generation Haldex-5 coupling, activated via an electro-hydraulic oil pump. In normal driving, the Alltrack acts like a front-wheel-drive car for better fuel economy, but as soon as the system detects wheel slip, up to 50% of the drive torque can be shipped to the rear wheels.

VW consumers asked and the maker listened by adding all-wheel drive to the 2017 Golf SportWagen Alltrack.

In addition to the Haldex coupling that acts longitudinally, electronic differential locks (EDL) at the front and rear axles act laterally in concert with the electronic stability control system. The system briefly brakes a wheel that is slipping, enabling uninterrupted and stable transfer of drive power to the wheel on the opposite side, VW notes.

While the Alltrack is the practical side of the display in New York this year, the Beetles are the fun side.

The Wave is an attention-getter with a Habenero Orange Metallic exterior accented with bright Tornado 19-inch aluminum alloy wheels and chromed mirrors. On the interior, a driver will find a mix of old and new with houndstooth seat inserts reminiscent of the ‘50s and ‘60s and a wood dashpad that looks like a surfboard matched with the modern technology that drivers expect.

VW says that while the Wave is a concept, it points out the Dune, which is comine to showrooms early next year, was also “just a concept” at the North American International Auto show last year. The Dune shows if consumers like something, VW will move quickly to ensure they can get it.

The Beetle Wave Concept borrows from the beach scene of the '50s and '60s while using new technologies.

(NY to wrap up auto show season with big debuts. For more, Click Here.)

In fact, any of the Beetle concepts are candidates to move into production if the public clamors for them. Additionally, there is the Beetle Pink Color Edition, painted entirely in Pink Metallic; the Beetle Convertible Denim concept car takes a cool approach to design with a denim-look soft top and a matching Stonewashed Blue Metallic body color; and the Beetle R-Line concept giving performance aficionados a Beetle of their own to gawk at during the show.

The Pink Color Edition is actually an ongoing test. VW officials claim there is a growing demand for pink Beetles in the U.S. as well as China. If the pink metallic Beetle draws enough rave reviews, it could be built as a coupe or a convertible.

For the concept car, the door mirror housings and side body moldings are painted in contrasting gray. The design of the Beetle Pink Color Edition also gets some drama from its striking R-Line front and rear bumper designs, VW said.

VW dealers in the U.S. and China say buyers want pink Beetles. Could this be the answer?

(Click Here for details about how Americans feel about auto dealers.)

The Convertible Denim is probably the least likely to find its way to dealer showrooms, but it’s an interesting study in blue jeans. And it’s not entirely impossible as the automaker did feature a “Jeans Bug” in the mid-1970s, which was followed by several iterations afterward.

Stonewashed Blue Metallic paint was developed specifically for the concept car, but nine other colors would also be available for a production version with exterior mirror caps, side skirts and body moldings finished in gray and 18-inch Disc aluminum-alloy wheels.

Naturally, the use of denim extends to the interior as well with sport seats in blue; the inner seating surfaces are upholstered in a light blue fabric, while the outer surfaces are designed in dark blue V-tex leatherette. The piping was executed in white and the usual small Beetle flags in red. The designers also integrated practical denim-look pockets on the backs and sides of the seats, the maker explained.

(To see more about the big year makers are poised to have in 2015, Click Here.)

However, if you’re looking for a Beetle to get the heart racing, it’s the R-Line with its 217-hp 2.0-liter TSI engine, which is nearly 40 hp more than the standard powerplant.

The Beetle R-Line concept is finished in Oryx White Pearl effect paint and has a customized exterior featuring aggressive bumpers that have large air vents at the front and wrap-around high-gloss black moldings that extend down the sides of the car. Other visual changes include a rear diffuser, painted black exterior mirror caps, a large rear spoiler and 20-inch Monterey aluminum-alloy wheels. The Beetle R-Line concept is 0.6 inches wider than the standard production car.

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2 Responses to “Volkswagen Makes Splash with Beetle Concepts in NYC”

  1. Marty says:

    Michael Strong: I read recently that VW is going to – or thinking of – axing the Beetle due to lack of demand. Is this a last-ditch effort to revive it, or just a swan song?

    Love the Alltrack. Just right, just like the Subaru Outback was back in the day, before it grew in size and ugly and lost its way. But that is subjective, so I’ll add: IMHO.

  2. Jorge says:

    AWD is a necessary option for most mainstream vehicles now days as far as consumers are concerned. It’s not used for off-road but instead for superior on-road traction in wet, slippery or Winter driving conditions. If VW doesn’t understand this, it shows the cultural disconnect that is hurting U.S. sales.

    It’s nice to see VW finally offer EDL on both the front and rear differentials. This is an absolute necessity of FWD and a big traction asset on AWD/RWD vehicles. The improvement in traction is dramatic on slippery surfaces. It’s unclear why VW would need to use computer controlled wheel braking with EDL. Wheel braking can shift power to the tire with more traction but with EDL you normally want both tires to have motive force. Braking a wheel is definitely not as effective as EDL.

    VW is desperately trying to find a means to continue the Beetle model. The wild interiors and paint colors tend to sell better in Urrup than in the U.S. IMO, VW needs to do a completely new VW exterior design that is attractive to consumers – and soon. They might want to look at a race car based 911 of the 70′s for inspiration as the current styling isn’t working at all.

    I don’t see the “Dune” model being a sales success in the U.S. nor other extreme Beetle models. The R series derivatives are their best hope at the moment but the price is a serious hurdle.