The third generation will go on sale in the U.S. in September or October, VW said in New York as it unveiled the redo ahead of the New York Auto Show, which begins with media days on Wednesday and Thursday.
The reveal came about an hour after it showed the car at the Shanghai Auto Show in China and events at other locations also were scheduled.
VW expects China, Europe, Mexico and the U.S. to be the main markets for the redone Beetle to start -- and then growing quickly to 60 or 70 countries worldwide.
The bigger, less "cute" and more sporty Beetle also is meant to draw more male buyers, wherever it is sold. VW U.S. chief Jonathan Browning said at the New York event that the previous model, discontinued last fall, "has a very large contingent of female buyers. We want to keep those buyers and expand to (more) male buyers" to boost sales.
The 2012 Beetle is bigger by a notable amount: 168.4 inches long, up 6 inches; 71.2 inhes wide, an increase of 3.3 inches.
VW says it adopted the engine lineup straight from other small U.S. VWs, such as Golf and Jetta, because it believes those powerplants are competitive and "it saves a lot of money" vs. designing new engines, says Luca de Meo, head of global VW marketing.
Even though the mileage ratings are expected to be as low as 22 mpg in town (31 highway), de Meo and Browning say that's in the ballpark for cars the size and price of the Beetle.
The engine lineup:
The automaker didn't provide pricing at the New York unveiling, but said the car would remain true to the initial mission for which the original Volkswagen was created in the 1940s: "Remain affordable to a large portion of the population."
Somewhat confusingly, VW also proposes the Mini Cooper as a possible Beetle rival -- and the Mini's isn't cheap. The base model starts at $20,100 and the line climbs from there. And most Minis you see, regardless of model, are optioned up much higher than the model's starting price.
Browning says, however, that the best comparison with the Mini is not as a direct price competitor, but rather to to think of Beetle as a car with enough mystique to draw buyers to showrooms as Mini does.