Sure, Toyota Corollas sell like hot cakes (Just how well do hot cakes sell anyway? We never, ever, see any hot cakes for sale, or anyone buying them. For that matter, what are hot cakes?), but there is one indisputable champion of sales numbers if you consider only same-body models.
That car is, of course, the Tatra 97… Sorry! We mean the Volkswagen Beetle! Oh darn it, we've kicked off the "Ferdinand Porsche nicked Hans Ledwinka's design" debate again…
Let's forget about that for a moment and focus on the revival of the world's most popular — 21.5 million sold (most of them taxis in Mexico City) — and arguably cutest car ever.
This would also be a good time, we'd say, to forget about the original 1998 revival of the Beetle, ingeniously dubbed the New Beetle, because that car was as charismatic as a boot even if it did find a million homes. In fact it looked like a boot too.
So this new icon of motoring was just born in Wolfsburg, obviously, to make its world debut simultaneously in Shanghai, Berlin and New York. Volkswagen calls this the New-New Beetle.
Just kidding, it's actually called just, The Beetle, and here's why: "Coke bottle, iPhone, Ray Ban Aviator, Beetle… How does one reinvent a design that is so recognisable and independent?"
There is a clear answer to this, according to Volkswagen: "It is necessary to understand the product and the brand; then it works! Volkswagen design chief Walter de Silva and Klaus Bischoff ‘understand' both and therefore they set this as the objective for the Beetle: ‘Design a new original!'"
So you see, even VW has admitted it would be pointless to create a third-generation Beetle. What the designers did is turn to the original for the second time, and create, in essence, the true second-generation Beetle.
And because of that, it's come out better than ever. First, a team that understands the history of the original had to be picked, so several members who made the design squad actually own air-cooled Beetles. The final look of the 2011 Beetle was therefore made more masculine and dynamic, instead of goofy like the New Beetle.
It has a lower profile and wider stance, with a longer bonnet and steeper windshield, just like on the original. In fact, Volkswagen claims that "if one were to take the first Beetle and the new Beetle and place them in a room together — shining light just over the roofs and viewing them from the side — one would see that the lines of the rear sections are nearly identical."
Even more importantly, the new Beetle isn't a wallowy grocery getter; the same people who developed the Golf GTI were tasked with ensuring that the car places driving fun at the forefront. With a 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine (no, they didn't go air-cooled on this one) and DSG transmission putting 197 horsepower to the front wheels, it sounds like they may have gotten that bit right, especially since top speed is 225kph.
Unfortunately Volkswagen spent all its creativity on the exterior, so that the cabin of the car looks pretty much like what you get in any V-Dub. Actually, we'll be fair and admit that we love the sporty carbon-look dash treatment, the extra dash-top dials and red/black seats.
But should you want any particular style with your new Beetle, buyers the world over will be offered three equipment lines; Beetle, Design, and Sport. Each has its own unique character, but if even that isn't enough, some individual markets will get additional options.
Now, getting back to the interesting bits, the petrol engine options are all force-fed for Asian and European markets. The three charged petrol engines of the Beetle output 104bhp, 158bhp, and the already mentioned range-topping 197bhp.
With this great-looking ‘second-generation' staying true to the original formula — barring of course some trifles such as a boxer air-cooled engine at the rear and rear-wheel drive — it looks like Volkswagen has once again managed to create a true people's car to unite the global markets.
Who says we can't all get along?