VW's newest Beetle pays homage to the original Bug

As a product of a generation that grew up with the Volkswagen Beetle — the original Bug — I have fond memories of that wildly affordable, quirky little car.

Even if you didn't have one in your immediate family, you had a cousin or a friend who drove one.

What I remember most was the dramatic difference in temperature from your feet to your face during cold weather. The variance could be as much as 30 degrees.

As your nose and ears flirted with frostbite, perspiration puddled in your shoes from the hot air blasting from the floor heater.

It was far from perfect, but the Beetle was cheap to buy and operate. Highways were brimming with them in the 1960s.

VW stopped selling the Beetle in the United States in 1979, and it would be 23 years before the car returned to the U.S. market as the New Beetle.

With its modern interpretation of the original's styling, the New Beetle looked enough like the Bug to attract those of us who remembered it, yet it was hip enough to lure younger buyers.

We responded warmly, and sales flourished.

Flash forward to 2012 and the second generation of the Beetle's second coming. Even for an iconic design like the Beetle, we expected some significant styling changes.

VW faced the problem of retaining key styling cues from the original while somehow making the second generation car look different from the first.

Remarkably, it did just that. How? It made the 2012 Beetle look even more like the original.

In profile, the 2012 looks much more like a 1960s Beetle than the 2003 New Beetle.

Studying their lines, the 2012 has a longer hood, a steeper rake to the windshield and a more streamlined roofline than the 2003. These are proportions taken directly from the original Beetle.

VW's strategy when it brought back the Beetle was to play on our love of nostalgia. Apparently that strategy is alive and well.

You can judge for yourself, but styling the 2012 Beetle to look even more like 1960s car has had the additional effect of making it look more substantial — maybe even a bit macho.

VW wants to attract more male buyers to the Beetle. The new design can't hurt that effort.

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