Ask the Autosavants: Will the VW Beetle Drop Its “Chick Car” Rep?

By Chris Haak

From the moment it was first displayed, Volkwagen executives have gone to great lengths to point out that the new Beetle (not the New Beetle, mind you) will appeal much more to male buyers than did the previous model.  Of course, when the Beetle’s first publicity stunt is a giveaway on Oprah, I’m not sure how serious VW is about boosting the testosterone levels of their classically-shaped hatchback.

Nonetheless, even the press release makes no bones about the company’s intent to shift Beetle buyer demographics from a 65/35 female/male split to something closer to 50/50:

Placing the original Beetle and the 21st Century Beetle next to one another, it’s clear that the lines of the rear sections are nearly identical, but the overall look is bolder and more dynamic. The Beetle also breaks free of the design geometry defined by three semi-circles—front fender, rear fender, and domed roof above it. The roof profile actually runs distinctly lower and can be considered a development of the Ragster concept car shown in Detroit in 2005. As a result, the new Beetle is bolder, more dynamic, and more masculine.

The new car’s proportions are growing on me a bit since I first saw it in silhouette.  My initial thought was that by lowering the roof and stretching the hood, the car looked closer to just any front wheel drive car with a long front overhang.  Now that I’ve studied the proportions of the original Type 1, it’s clear that Dr. Porsche’s design was anything but “cab forward.”  And the lowered suspension, larger wheels, and excellent VW 2.0T engine will certainly make the car more appealing to me.

Yet I still wonder how many males will embrace the Beetle – particularly the younger males that Volkswagen is targeting.  The company not only hopes to trend the car’s buyer demographics to the more masculine side, but also to lower the average buyer age from 58 to 36.  So who’s going to step up and be the first guy to embrace the sportiness of the Beetle Turbo?  I am pretty sure that the new car’s interior doesn’t come with a bud vase anymore, but it seems to me that the buyers that VW intends to capture with the Beetle will be more likely to gravitate toward the GTI, with its classic hot hatch shape and already-established reputation among young males.

I’ve been wrong in predictions about VW before – thinking that the 2011 decontented (but cheaper) Jetta would not be competitive, but it’s tearing up the sales charts.  So what do you think?  Will males embrace the 2012 VW Beetle?  Will the car drop its “chick car” reputation?  Have your say below.

Author: Chris Haak

Chris is Autosavant's Managing Editor. He has a lifelong love of everything automotive, having grown up as the son of a car dealer. A married father of two sons, Chris is also in the process of indoctrinating them into the world of cars and trucks.

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  1. It’s hard to know, with a bigger competition from one corner with the Mini and Fiat 500 and from the other corner with the Ford Fiesta/Mazda 2, Honda Fit, upcoming Chevrolet Sonic, 2012 Toyota Yaris and Nissan Versa. It might be a tough challenge for VW.

    On the other hand if VW had bring the new Scirocco here in North America, it would had bring additionnal male buyers but VW had other plans….

  2. It’s weird, because I grew up in the late 1960s/early 1970s, and I don’t recall the original having a “girl car” reputation at all … It was a hippy-mobile, dune-buggy platform and recipient of the occasional crazy engine swap. That being said, your point about the GTI is a good one, and I think VW would have been better suited taking the newest Beetle back to its roots as a funky piece of low-cost transportation.

    The front end is notably more aggressive-looking, though.

  3. Loses my vote. It looks like it’s squatting. I agree with Mr. Krome. The ’60s/’70s Beetles were hippie-mobiles. They were funky; they were cool. This, well…. How far is the nearest Fiat dealer?

  4. @Charles Krome

    While the “New Beetle” isn’t back to its roots of low-cost transportation. VW decided to try it back to its roots ironically with the other models of its line-up with the Jetta and to a latter extent, the Passat.

  5. Nope, they’re not going to shake the “chick car” thing. And, BTW, the original was for free thinkers and non-conformists of all type, not just hippies.

  6. If they produced a modded out performance model with the same performance as the GTI, and produced an even higher performance model that matched the R36, that would go a long way towards getting men interested in the Beetle.

  7. I’ll let you know when I’ve seen one. Better yet, when I’ve driven one.

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