FOR the second time in its career, the Volkswagen Beetle will be no more. Even though production of the front-drive, Mk6 Golf-based Beetle will continue in VW’s Mexican plant (for the time being) to satisfy the US market, the rest of the world is preparing to bid farewell to a car it never really bonded with. And Australia will be among the first to say goodbye.
Limited to an individually numbered build of just 53 units (a nod to Volkswagen’s Australian debut in 1953) and on sale in September for $37K drive-away, our last Beetle will feature a gold cabin badge marked ‘The Beetle Classic – Final Edition’, as well as black ‘steel-look’ 17-inch wheels with chrome centre caps, black ‘Beetle’ side decals, a black roof, a white-only colour scheme and checked seat trim among its cache of ‘classic’ design cues seemingly channelling the Superbugs of the 1970s.
Technology-wise, however, the Beetle Classic will be anything but. With bi-xenon headlights, LED running lights, Volkswagen’s latest multimedia set-up and a 118kW/240Nm ‘twin-charged’ 1.4, the final Beetle should have enough software sparkle to please a generation of tech-savvy buyers who weren’t born when Volkswagen’s original rear-engined, air-cooled Beetle ended Australian production in 1976.
Volkswagen revived the Beetle’s iconic design when the ‘New’ Beetle launched here in January 2000, but even in its best year – the first 12 months – the modern Beetle shifted a modest 1328 units, compared with the original Beetle’s 1960 sales record of 24,388. And it was downhill from there, with the New Beetle breaking the 1000-unit mark just once in the last 15 years (1043 units in 2005, bolstered by the launch of the Cabriolet). There’s been a similar level of disinterest across the globe.
Joining the Beetle Classic Edition from September will be a bunch of other special-edition Volkswagens, starting with the Polo Beats ($21,990-$24,490). Based on the 81TSI Comfortline, the Polo Beats ties in with the whole Dr Dre Beats audio line, offering you not only a pumped-up sound system, but also some Dr Dre headphones, trick-looking seat trim, a choice of three two-tone exterior colour combos and 16-inch alloys. It’ll sit beside the Touareg Wolfsburg ($87,990), sporting black 20s and diamond-stitched Nappa leather trim, among other goodies.
But it’s the Scirocco R Wolfsburg we’re most looking forward to. Another last-of-the-line model for Australia and capped at 150 units, the final Scirocco goes on sale in November in manual ($49,490) and DSG ($51,990) forms. Wearing either Oryx White pearl or Rising Blue paint, each garnished with black 19-inch ‘Lugarno’ alloys and winged-back, race-style bucket seats, the last Scirocco promises to be the best of a model line we’ll miss immensely.