VW planning a swinging 60th
The next generation of the Volkswagen Beetle will be launched in Australia later this month.

_IN THE _time it takes you to read this, global giant Volkswagen will have spat another 35 new vehicles out the back end of its factories around the world.

Every 3.5 seconds another VeeDub hits the road somewhere and if the new model releases expected for 2013 go as planned, overall production will be boosted even further.

At its annual press conference in Sydney this week, VW Australia's managing director Anke Koeckler proudly announced that the local organisation sold 21 per cent more vehicles in 2012 than it did in 2011.

That compared with a global increase of 11 per cent.

Significantly, VW commercial vehicles improved more than 50 per cent, led by the widening market appeal of the expanded Amarok ute range.

To meet the demand, the group has appointed 12 new dealers across Australia during the year, as well as growing the internal organisation to a substantial 220 people, half of whom are in the after-sales area.

A number of significant new model releases are scheduled for this year and overarching these occasions will be celebrations for the milestone of 60 years in Australia, commemorating the day the first Beetle hit our roads in October 1953.

As Ms Koeckler said, most Australian adults have a Beetle story - I have several, including sleeping across the front seats at Mt Panorama in the Falcon HO glory days; and ending up on the roof after a nutcase tried to overtake me at an intersection.

So the new model, with significant styling changes but still recognisable, as well as 118kW plus manual or DSG gearboxes, will feature enough technology to capture a new generation of owners who insist on mobile connectivity and entertainment options.

In March we will see the arrival of the Touareg V8TDI with R-line styling package. The 4.2-litre V8 pumps out 250kW of power and a thumping 800Nm of torque.

Although a big, heavy and solid-feeling SUV, it still manages to sprint from rest to 100km/h in just 5.8sec.

BlueMotion technologies, including brake energy recuperation, help VW's flagship model achieve a combined economy figure of 9.2L/100km.

No wonder it has so much torque - it needs it to drive the 620W premium audio system with 12-channel digital amplifier and a dozen speakers.

As for VW's biggest-selling car, the Golf, we'll see the seventh version near the end of April and it'll include a new entry-level model - that's marketing speak for poverty pack.

VW's aim is to get a lot more motorists to experience the Golf phenomenon and move upwards from bargain-priced but high- quality small cars led by the new entry-level Corolla.

Fans of the hottest Golf, the GTI, will have to wait until the last quarter - but the wait might be worth it, with an engine upgrade due for the hatch all-rounder.

Marketing manager Jutte Friese also highlighted the nine awards the company earned in 2012 from industry magazines for its passenger car range.

The news for VW's commercial fans is the release of the Caddy Maxi Crewvan, a five-seat variant on the long-wheelbase version.

Instead of sending a Caddy out to an external builder to add some seats, the factory version adds a split, adjustable and removable bench seat with recessed mounting points for $1500.

The West Australian

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