Who'd have thought Coke bottles and a Fender guitars would have a common link with Volkswagen? Well, like the car, the bottle and the guitar have what VW call `iconic styling' in that any of them would be instantly recognisable anywhere in the world.
That link is so strong that there's even a Fender Edition in the line-up of VW's Beetle range. Not that it's a big range: just one model, a choice of transmission, a couple of option packs and that pearl-black Fender Edition.
The Beetle, longer, wider and taller than its predecessor, is only the model's third-generation since the first 'people's car' was produced in 1938. Since then, more than 22 million have been let loose around the globe including one in Antarctica.
The new one is a sophisticated number reflecting a fine blend of modern and retro, and costs $29,990 with a six-speed manual shifter. The seven-speed DSG adds $2500 and the higher-spec (very) limited edition Fender is $34,490. The Beetle is a comprehensive package, with standard fare including remote entry, power windows and mirrors, cruise control, dual zone aircon, 17-inch alloy wheels, cruise control, auto-on wipers, foglights and front and rear parking sensors.
The longish nose hides a high-tech 1.4litre twin-cam four-cylinder with turbo and supercharging. It's a little powerhouse, whacking out 118kW and 240Nm, and it uses very little fuel. Official economy figures are 6.8litres/100km in manual and 6.4 with DSG. Other good bits are a differential lock, hill start assist and a good electro-assisted steering that firms up at speed and becomes feather-light when parking.
The car has evolved to a more mature look, which makes it a standout in traffic. Optional half-moon LED daytime running lights also help.
There's ample room for four, knock-down rear seats that increase cargo space from 310 to 905litres and a 1950s style dash finished in body colours. Three clear, round dials house the driver info and there's a multi-function leather-rim steering wheel, media device interface, Bluetooth connectivity with audio streaming, eight speakers and an aux socket. And doubledeck gloveboxes. Fitment of the Mexican-built car is superb.
It has a five-star safety rating and comes with airbags and a plethora of electronic driver aids.
It drives beautifully, its wide stance and big rubber boosting stability and comfort and it really enjoyed going walkies over the mountainous switchbacks of the D'Aguilar Range in Queensland. It's a smooth and eager performer, able to reach 100km/h from rest in 8.3seconds, and it just ambles along at 100km/h without raising a sweat.
The DSG is the pick of the transmissions but there's no paddle shift unless you opt for one of the option packs. Cheeky, we thought.
A bug of the highest pedigree. With a Fender edition on its way, might things could go even better with a Coke version in following months?
New Volkswagen Beetle
Price: $29,990 plus on-road costs (plus $2500 for auto)
Engine: Supercharged and turbocharged 1.4-litre four-cylinder petrol, 118kW/240Nm
Transmission: Six-speed manual, seven-speed DSG auto
Thirst: 6.4L/100km and 148g/km (auto), 6.8L/100km and 158g/km (manual)
Service intervals: 15,000km/12 months
Safety rating: Five stars
Dimensions: 4278mm (+149 mm)(L), 1808mm (+87 mm)(w), 1477mm (-21 mm)(h), 2524mm (+ 9 mm)(wb)
Boot capacity: 310 litres (up from 209 litres)
Warranty: Three years/100,000km
Price: from $26,500
Engine: 1.6-litre four-cylinder, 72kW/153Nm
Transmission: 6-speed manual; 6-speed auto, FWD
Thirst: 6.7L/100km 156g/km CO2 (automatic)
Price: from $22,990
Engine: 1.0-litre two-cylinder turbo, 62.5kW/145Nm
Transmission: 5-speed manual; seq. manual auto-single clutch, FWD
Thirst: 3.9L/100km 90g/km CO2 (automatic)
Only 200 Beetle Fenders, all with DSG, will be available in Australia, from June. They're all in black pearl, with 18-inch wheels and a rockin' 400W audio system. There are also Fender badges, LED daytime running and number plate lights, Bi-Xenon headlights, brown stitching on the black leather, adjustable ambience lighting and there's a big bass box in the boot. And the dash is finished in Sunburst, a two-tone wood, same as on some Fender Stratocasters.