Volkswagen revived the famous Beetle nameplate in 1998 when it introduced the Golf-based, round-shaped vehicle on the market, bringing a breath of fresh air into the German carmaker's lineup.
While the original model, although heavily upgraded, of the Beetle was still produced in Mexico, Volkswagen decided that it was time for a new model to carry on the car's legacy that built the German brand. Thus, in 1994, at the North American International Auto Show, the carmaker unveiled a concept car named Concept One that announced the revival of the Beetle. By 1997, the concept car became a reality.
Developed during the full biodesign era, the Beetle resembled some of its ancestors' features, such as the curved, oversized fenders. Its sloped, round headlights were mounted on a front fascia that didn't show an upper grille. Unlike the original version, this time, the Beetle was a front-engined vehicle, so it needed a cooling area that was incorporated into the lower bumper. The bubble-like appearance was emphasized by the sloped rear end, where a tailgate opened to reveal the trunk. Last but not least, the carmaker added a pair of round taillights.
The interior followed the same retro-design concept, with a round instrument cluster that sported the speedometer and the fuel and temperature gauges. The design was complemented by a small vase placed next to the steering wheel. On the center stack, Volkswagen installed the AC unit and the stereo. The Beetle offered seating for four, with a split-folding (50/50) rear bench and two bucket seats at the front.
The 1998 Beetle shared its underpinning with the well-known Golf IV, featuring McPherson front suspensions and trailing arms at the rear. Under the hood, the carmaker added a choice of gasoline and turbo-diesel engines. Last but not least, it was offered with either a manual or an automatic transmission for selected engines.