09 August 2007

The real new Beetle

Forget the flower holders, VW is lining up a real rear-engined people's car

Volkswagen Beetle

The Beetle is back. No, not that rebodied, flower-holding Golf rip-off, but a proper spiritual reincarnation of the original people's car. Minus the Nazis, of course.

At the Frankfurt show this September, VW will unveil what it's describing as a 'rear-engined, city-biased vehicle'.

Details are scant at this point, but the City Expert concept will preview an ultra-economical and low-cost compact car that should see production in a range of guises.

If that all sounds a bit fluffy, this is what it boils down to: dead cheap, dead frugal and dead flexible.

There's no official word on what will power the City Expert, but it seems likely that the production model - which could be on the roads within two years - will come with a range of engines for different markets.

Economical two- and three-cylinder engines should make an appearance, with rumours of a one-cylinder variant for developing markets.

It's those developing markets that explain why the City Expert could be made in three different body styles. Europe should see a three-door hatch, India a five-door hatch and China a four-door saloon.

What's certain is that the engine will be strung out over the back wheels, putting the City Expert in an exclusive little group of vehicles including the Porsche 911 and Mitsubishi i. Good company, that.

With a likely price tag of under £5,000 in Europe - and even less in China and India - don't expect luxuries like power steering from the City Expert. Still, a tiny rear-engined buzzbox for the price of a round of drinks in central London has got us interested.

We'll have all the details as soon as the covers come off in Frankfurt.

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