2017 Volkswagen Beetle Introduction

The modern version of the classic Beetle of the 1950s to 1970s has been around for two decades now, revised in appearance for the 2012 model year, with a lower roofline. Only a 6-speed automatic transmission is available for 2017; manual gearboxes are gone. Volkswagen’s post-collision braking system is newly standard.

Bumpers have been modified for the 2017 model year. A new limited-production #PinkBeetle trim level is offered.

Beetles come in two body styles: hatchback coupe and convertible, each flaunting a uniquely rakish, low-roofed profile. For 2017, the lineup has shrunk slightly, but seven trim levels are offered.

In base S, SE, SEL, Classic, Dune, and new #PinkBeetle models, a 1.8-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine makes 170 horsepower and 284 pound-feet of torque. Each Beetle uses a 6-speed automatic transmission.

For a modestly sportier experience, the R-Line SEL holds a 2.0-liter turbo four that develops 210 horsepower and 207 pound-feet, mating with a dual-clutch automatic transmission.

Curiously, a hashtag symbol precedes the new model’s name: #PinkBeetle. Only 2,000 are to be manufactured, inspired by a California dealer who painted some Beetles pink. Officially named Fresh Fuchsia Metallic, its paint isn’t truly pink.

Dune editions are slightly wider and taller, brandishing side sills, black cladding and other distinct styling touches, atop 18-inch wheels.

Despite the contemporary Beetle’s vintage design cues and perky demeanor, beneath the surface it’s a conventional hatchback, based upon the prior-generation Golf model. All Beetles have front-wheel drive.

Visibility is good all around. Big mirrors provide helpful sight lines when driving in traffic. As expected, rearward views from the driver’s seat of a top-up convertible are more restricted.

Advanced safety features are in short supply, lacking collision-avoidance technology. A rearview camera is newly standard on all Beetles. So is automatic emergency braking, which applies brakes when detecting an imminent collision. SEL trim includes blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert.

In crash-testing by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a Beetle coupe scored five stars overall, but four stars for frontal impact and rollover protection (a calculated score, not an actual test). The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the coupe Good ratings in all tests, except for Marginal in the small-overlap frontal collision.

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