Well they have to describe it as lovable since most of the population don’t groove on actual insects. But it is not a real bug and surely we can acknowledge that there is at least a measure of cuteness in their commitment to brand it as cute.
But I have to say – as a former owner of a vintage VW Beetle – which hardly managed to stay on the road (both from a reliability point of view as well as its dire road holding) – the term ‘lovable’ just does not work – even if I pull the choke and pump the gas hard.
If the name of the game is ‘retro’, and some brand manager wants me to think of actually owning one, that falls completely flat. The ‘retro’ involved with this reminds me of nothing other than frequent breakdowns in very inconvenient places in my youth – such as remote parts of the African veld.
You might say “how romantic!” and urge me, after all this time to well up a tear for the remote places that vehicle dragged you to?. You may as well also ask me to chuckle about the times some other vehicle had to drag me out of there. Or of the times the remote workshop they took me to lacked spares. Sadly I am not chuckling. I was not amused then and I am not now.
You know the T shirt that reads “The older I get the better I was”. I am trying pretty hard to be generous and apply that principle to this car. What’s wrong with a bit of nostalgia then? Nothing – so long as one does not have to dip more than the tip of a toe into the river of time to get it.
When I think hard about it I think the only thing I can stretch to ‘sentimental’ about are the famed original advertising campaigns of the 60s – which sadly cited dependability above all. ‘What does the guy who drives the snow plow drive to work in’ was a great piece of advertising copy. Wouldn’t it be nice were that nothing but a load of old cobblers? I might have been able to binge on sentimentality about the branding – but now – not so much!
But seriously, at a visual level, the real attraction of this vehicle is not the the kind of profound nostalgia one gets from a custom car. The real attraction for the ‘branding engineer’ is that it bucks that homogeneous/indistinguishable modern car look. Nothing more! It makes a cosmetic statement which probably exploits an entire era – when cars were not designed to look more aerodynamic than they really were- rather than bringing the driver closer to the experience/trauma of owning and original beetle.