Is the iBeetle for him?

Published: Monday, May 6, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, May 3, 2013 at 5:57 p.m.

The iconic Volkswagen Beetle of the hippie generation or, as I like to say, my parent's generation, was a car that defined an era. When you close your eyes and think of free love and burning bras, the image of Herbie the Love Bug is not too far behind. The retro Beetles we see today define only one thing in my mind — “girly car” — but that might change with the release of the iBeetle, a collaboration between strange but likely bedfellows Apple and Volkswagen.

Not to bore you with my life story but being a child in the mid-1970s, I just missed the bug boom. I only heard of the “puffed tales” and witnessed the rusty remnants.

That changed in high school when my dad traded a camera lens for a heap of a mess that was an orange 1968 Super Beetle Convertible we dubbed “orange crush.” We brought it back to life over many weekends and a lot of elbow grease. I learned a few things just from “borrowing it,” aka sneaking it out in the middle of the night: A dollar's worth of gas would go all night; the engine had the most unique purr; and it would always garner a long look, especially from girls. My favorite memory is it did not have a top, so when it would rain, I would have to hold a large beach umbrella to keep from getting soaked, which was fine except holding an umbrella while steering and shifting was a real art.

Fast forward to modern days, you know, the world in color. Volkswagen brought back the Beetle in 1998, and I wanted one. That was until I noticed paint jobs with purples, greens and even yellows that seemed a bit estrogen-laden, if you know what I mean. They also came with matching daisies on the dashboard. For all intents and purposes, the new Super Beetle is to the ponytail what the classic was to bellbottoms.

Enter iBeetle. Scratch the girly lilac as this puppy has metallic and chrome all the way around. That spot on the dash for the daisies? Yep, that is where your iPhone plugs in. In fact, the entire car has the fit and finish of an iPhone. It looks like the estro-Beetle but with a hyper-injection of testosterone. The kind of Beetle that Steve Jobs would have driven, which is probably why he signed off on it.

So what does a phone that was designed for “iPhone 5 integration” actually do? It starts by plugging in the phone so the features can come to life. According to Volkswagen, the interface allows navigation, hands-free telephone capabilities, along with a way to stream music through the audio system. While many cars offer similar capabilities, the iPhone's Beetle app allows you to go much further.

Some of these features include the “Expert” menu, which allows extended on-board instrumentation like oil and coolant temperatures along with a compass and chronometer. “Reader” mode will allow social media integration like Facebook and Twitter and even a mode for the car to read them aloud for you (hope it has the "Knight Rider" voice). “Photo” mode will take photos inside the car and transmit them in real time. I know many of my readers have been holding their breath for such technology. “Trainer” mode will compare different routes, travel times and fuel efficiency, while the “Postcard” will send friends a digital postcard of your travels. This truly is a car for the real “Mac” daddies of the world.

The iBeetle is scheduled for a 2014 release but is expected to hit the streets in late 2013. The colors are various shades of black, silver and white but just think of the colors of an iPad and that will give you a good idea. iBeetle is expected in hardtop or the Cabriolet convertible.

If I had a choice, I would rip out the top and go straight to the beach umbrella.

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