Volkswagen Beetle TDI (© Rod Hatfield)Click to enlarge picture

Volkswagen Beetle TDI

Volkswagen is set to reveal the Beetle TDI, the most fuel-miserly version of the Bug, during the 2012 Chicago Auto Show. Fuel economy figures are still unofficial at this point, but VW estimates the diesel-powered Beetle TDI will return 29-mpg in city driving and 39-mpg on the highway. That's a significant step above the 22/31-mpg city/highway average offered by the base Beetle powered by a gasoline-fed 2.5-liter 5-cylinder. However, something tells us VW must have been hoping for an even 30/40-mpg — if only for the sake of marketing.

The TDI's turbocharged and direct-injected 2.0-liter engine serves up 140 bhp and a stout 236 lb.-ft. of torque. Performance data has not been released, though in-gear acceleration should be particularly strong. After all, stump-pulling torque is a diesel specialty. The Beetle TDI will come fitted with either a 6-speed manual or VW's dual-clutch DSG automatic transmission. VW has not stated whether economy figures will be identical with either gearbox.

More coverage from the Chicago Auto Show

Longer, Lower and Now More Efficient
In terms of design, the Beetle TDI shares the same lowered stance found on the rest of the range. We're fans of the more "masculine" (to use VW's term) Beetle, which stretches roughly 3 inches wider and 6 inches longer than the previous model. The overall stance is somehow sportier and more retro looking — consider us big fans. The Beetle TDI wears unique badging and rides on its own set of 17-inch alloy wheels. A chrome trim line runs along the tops of the doors.

To ensure the car is emission-friendly in all 50 states, the Beetle TDI employs high- and low-pressure exhaust gas recirculation at all engine speeds, as well as a particulate filter and three catalytic converters. Coincidentally, there will be three trim levels to choose from when the Beetle TDI goes on sale this summer: TDI, TDI with Sunroof, and TDI with Sunroof, Sound and Navigation. We'll assume you can guess some of the key features offered in each model.

Pricing will be announced during the 2012 Chicago Auto Show. Based on premiums charged for other VW diesels, we expect the TDI to fall close to the $24,000 base price of the Beetle Turbo.

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