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Car torque: The beet goes on

The beet goes on

It’s on sale, even if it’s not here yet: Volkswagen New Zealand has announced that the latest Beetle will start at $46,500 when it arrives in mid-December.

It is a much-needed update for the Beetle, which has struggled along in the same form since 1998.

The 2013 version is based on the current Golf VI platform and is styled to look much more masculine – and arguably much closer to the iconic original.

The sole engine for New Zealand will be the 118kW 1.4-litre turbocharged and supercharged petrol unit already used in the Golf.

But what to call it? Given that the historic original is known as the Beetle (although it was never officially badged that way) and the 1998 version became known in some circles as “New Beetle,” one local motoring writer is insisting on calling the latest car the “new New Beetle”. 

Glad he hasn’t applied the same logic to the Toyota Corolla.

My car, my key

Ford now offers the equivalent of a parental lock on its Fiesta supermini in Europe.

The MyKey system enables Fiesta owners to programme a key with a top speed limit, maximum audio volume and a lock that ensures safety systems stay on even when manually deactivated.

MyKey was first introduced by Ford in the US and is fitted to most of the maker’s new models there.

A recent survey by Ford in Europe showed that more than half of parents would be more likely to let their teenagers drive the family car with a technology such as MyKey fitted.

Ferrari celebrates in China

Ferrari is celebrating two decades of official distributorship in China.

It has grown to become the second-largest market in the world for the Italian supercar maker, with sales in excess of 700 vehicles a year and 25 separate dealerships.

The importance of the Chinese market was reflected in a visit by Ferrari chairman Luca di Montezemolo this month and the launch of a special model: a limited-edition version of the 458 Italia with characteristic Chinese graphic elements and a special Rosso Marco Polo body colour.

Premium prize

The race to No 1 in the premium-car market is taken very seriously, and don’t let anybody in the industry tell you otherwise.

In New Zealand it is still a two-marque match, between Audi and BMW. Audi has been on top since 2007, although BMW came very close last year. 

Close enough for this writer to (incorrectly) predict a changing of the guard. Audi finished 2011 with 1331 sales, leading BMW by 114 units.

New Audi New Zealand general manager Dean Sheed forecasts another record year in 2012: the marque has already hit 1337 and is heading for a projected 1530 sales by year’s end.

BMW is still slightly ahead, though: 1396 for the year to date, according to Motor Industry Assocation figures. Ending Audi’s five-year reign would provide a big boost to BMW and provide a running start for incoming managing director Nina Englert.

More by David Linklater