The story behind VW's cheeriest Bug
Pink has faded away from the automotive landscape over the years. The few cars that were once available with factory pink paint jobs have since stopped offering the color (think the Chevrolet Spark and Mitsubishi Mirage). Going against the grain, Volkswagen is embracing pink by making it the focus of a limited edition Beetle model. Here are seven things to know about the 2017 Volkswagen #PinkBeetle.
You’ve likely seen pink-colored Beetles before because fans have opted to brighten up their Bugs with aftermarket pink paint for years. But now, VW has finally created an official pink Beetle. It all started in early 2014 during a dealer gathering at the automaker’s factory in Mexico.
“As we were discussing our current Beetle customers and what they were asking for on the dealership level, we noticed a common theme: Women were coming into their dealerships and asking if Volkswagen made a pink Beetle,” said Kerry Dickson, who was Beetle product planner at the time and is now a brand marketing senior specialist at VW. Realizing there was real demand for a pink Bug, the team at VW created a concept and then presented it at the 2015 New York auto show.
We would have predicted a bubble gum shade of pink for this Bug, but VW had other plans. The model was destined to be sold globally, and different markets had their own desired shades of pink.
“One of the most challenging aspects of designing this concept was deciding on the hue of pink,” Dickson said. “The Chinese market was pushing for a very light Hello Kitty hue of pink, and the North American market had requested a bolder, brighter hue.” Finally, VW decided on Fresh Fuchsia Metallic, which is a paint that changes color depending on the lighting. We’ve noticed it only looks pink under direct sunlight; otherwise, it takes on a red or raspberry tone.
The #PinkBeetle’s interior is just as festive as its exterior. In addition to pink accents on the doors, steering wheel, and touchscreen, the model features Pink Club cloth seats. But this merry interior wasn’t always part of the plan.
Because the exterior is so bold, VW originally thought it would be best for the model to have a simple cabin. At first, VW thought of a black interior with pink contrast stitching. Then Germany came up with the idea to borrow the plaid Club seats from European models (think Club Up!). Instead of a blue accent line in the cloth fabric, the #PinkBeetle has a dark pink line that matches the other pink details throughout the cabin.
The #PinkBeetle coupe is powered by the same 1.8-liter turbocharged inline-four engine available on the standard Beetle model. Paired exclusively with a six-speed automatic transmission, the engine inside the #PinkBeetle produces 170 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque, plenty of juice for zipping around town or getting up to speed on the freeway. This Beetle drives pretty smoothly, keeping wind noise at bay and shielding drivers from road imperfections. We found it much more refined than another special Beetle, the sporty Dune model.
In Motor Trend tests, the #PinkBeetle hit 60 mph in 7.3 seconds. That makes it relatively quick compared to other compacts. It’s quicker than the 2.0-liter 2016 Mazda3 (8.4 seconds), the 2016 Chevrolet Cruze (8.2 seconds), and the 2016 Toyota Corolla S (9.8 seconds), but it doesn’t match the 2017 Honda Civic Turbo we tested at 6.8 seconds. Among other image hatches, the Beetle is quicker than the 2012 Fiat 500 (9.8 seconds) but slower than the 2015 Mini Hardtop Cooper S (6.6 seconds) and Fiat 500 Abarth (6.7 seconds).
|2017 Volkswagen Beetle #PinkBeetle|
|PRICE AS TESTED||$22,710|
|VEHICLE LAYOUT||Front-engine, FWD, 4-pass, 2-door hatchback|
|ENGINE||1.8L/170-hp/184-lb-ft turbo DOHC 16-valve I-4|
|CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST)||3,026 lb (62/38%)|
|LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT||168.4 x 71.2 x 58.5 in|
|0-60 MPH||7.3 sec|
|QUARTER MILE||15.6 sec @ 89.1 mph|
|BRAKING, 60-0 MPH||119 ft|
|LATERAL ACCELERATION||0.87 g (avg)|
|MT FIGURE EIGHT||26.7 sec @ 0.65 g (avg)|
|EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON||24/33/28 mpg|
|ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY||140/102 kW-hrs/100 miles|
|CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB||0.71 lb/mile|
The Body Styles
Although we only had the opportunity to drive the coupe, this cheery #PinkBeetle is also available as a convertible. As it turns out, there are some subtle differences between the two versions.
The coupe receives 17-inch Linas alloy wheels with a multispoke appearance, and the convertible gets five-spoke 18-inch Twister alloys. Unlike the coupe, the convertible also benefits from a chrome-accented grille and heated windshield washer nozzles, and it also gets three-color ambient interior lighting and visor vanity mirrors. For those extra features and the drop-top mechanism, the convertible is priced at $27,615 USD, considerably above the coupe, which starts at just $22,710 USD.
Cargo volume for the coupe stands at 15.4 cubic feet, compared to just 7.1 cubic feet for the convertible. Overall passenger volume is 85.1 cubic feet for the coupe and 81.4 cubic feet on the drop-top.
The Social Influence
If you hadn’t noticed already, the #PinkBeetle is the first vehicle to have a hashtag as part of its official name. Not only does VW hope the model will become a trending topic, but social media has also played a big role in its design. Feedback from social media followers is what brought the #PinkBeetle to life. It was only after gauging public response to the concept that VW decided to make it a production model. The same goes for the decision to finalize the plaid interior for production.
“With the advent of social media, we are able to post pictures on our social channels from the New York auto show, moderate consumer feedback, and make product decisions accordingly,” Dickson said. “The plaid seats are the most prominent example of this. Consumers commented, liked, and tweeted about them, so we put them in the car.”