Volkswagen Beetle

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Fernando Zobel de Ayala (left) looks on as his brother Jaime Augusto (second from right) relates his VW experience to JP Orbeta (right), president of the Philippines’ Volkswagen distributor. Joining them in presenting the Beetle are Fernando’s wife, Kat (fourth from right), and some of the Zobel children. PHOTO BY RUBEN D. MANAHAN 4TH

Fernando Zobel de Ayala (left) looks on as his brother Jaime Augusto (second from right) relates his VW experience to JP Orbeta (right), president of the Philippines’ Volkswagen distributor. Joining them in presenting the Beetle are Fernando’s wife, Kat (fourth from right), and some of the Zobel children. PHOTO BY RUBEN D. MANAHAN 4TH

THE local distributor of Volkswagen displayed the newest version of the iconic Beetle at the Manila International Auto Show. But on the eve of the event Automobile Central Enterprise Inc. (ACEI) officially released the latest-generation Beetle at The Mind Museum in Bonifacio Global City, amid a backdrop of fond speeches and youthful dance moves that capture the new car’s bolder and dynamic design.

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Ayala Corp. Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala and President and Chief Operating Officer Fernando Zobel de Ayala, with ACEI President John Philip Orbeta, introduced the car.

ACEI is part of Ayala Automotive Holdings Corp.

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In presenting the latest Beetle, Fernando Zobel said the car brings history in itself.

“No other car evokes as much nostalgia, tradition and heritage as the Beetle. As such, I am especially pleased and excited to introduce a car as iconic and celebrated as the one we have launched tonight.”

Orbeta bared he first learned how to drive in an old Beetle.

“The Beetle has always been special to me. I first learned how to drive with a Beetle and will always have fond memories of it, as I’m sure many Filipinos do. And now, I am extremely proud to be heralding the return of the world’s most iconic car back to Philippine shores,” he said.

First built in 1939, the Beetle—which originally did not have a “proper” name but was christened as such when it first reached the US—has seen more than 21.5 million examples of it sold until 1997. The second-generation Beetle, which is the rounder and shorter sibling of the latest version, arrived in 1998 and was built until 2010, with more than one million of the cars sold worldwide.

The latest version of the Beetle that arrived in the Philippines is available in two economical power plants. The first is a 1.2-liter TSI engine, paired with a six-speed manual transmission, that produces 104Nm and 175Nm of torque, while the other is a 1.4-liter TSI engine, matched to VW’s seven-speed DSG transmission, that makes 158hp and 240Nm of torque.

This makes the Beetle the first gasoline-fueled model imported to the country by ACEI. The company’s previous lineup—the Polo Notch 1.6 TDI, Jetta 2.0 TDI, Touareg, Tiguan and Touran—all run on diesel.

Both Beetle variants have electric power steering and MacPherson strut/four-link suspension systems. Externally, the 1.4 TSI can be distinguished by LEDs within its headlamps, a rear spoiler and larger 17-inch alloys compared to the 1.2 TSI’s 16-inch wheels.

ACEI marketing head Arnel Doria said that before the launch, customers have excitedly awaited the return of the Beetle as they placed reservations for the car. He added that he is hoping that the availability of the model would now “cut the sale of those Beetles that are illegally imported.”

ACEI prices the 1.2 TSI Basic at P1.590 million and the 1.4 TSI Design from P1.790 million to P1.840 million for the variant painted Oryx White.

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