While auto shows are well-known for rolling out the latest in concept cars, the 2012 New York Auto Show focused mainly on production vehicles.  Rising gas prices have helped create a theme of fuel economy at the show, but raw horsepower was also on display. 

Let’s start with the horsepower – the Shelby GT 500 Super Snake.  The standard setup offers a supercharged 5.4 liter V8 that delivers 550 hp.  There are two other versions, offering  750 and 800 hp, with a total price tag of just under $83,000.

But average consumers have been anticipating the unveiling of a significantly more practical vehicle, the 2012 Volkswagen New Beetle.  It blends more realistic performance with fuel economy and a new design.  Since the Shanghai auto show coincided with the New York version, Volkswagen was able to unveil the  2012 New Beetle virtually simultaneously on three continents; Berlin also had an appearance of the vehicle.

The restyled New Beetle reflects just the third redesign of the car in 73 years.  The head of the Volkswagen design team, Klaus Bischoff, recognized the need to make the car appealing to a broader gender base.

“We started from scratch,” Bischoff said. “We wanted to give it a whole new character, to make a dynamic, sportier, more masculine car.”  The New Beetle had earned a reputation as being more feminine, so Bischoff went back to the original drawing board and Ferdinand Porsche’ designs.  “We had an original one in the studio”.

The new design features a longer, more aggressive design, measuring 3.3 inches wider and six inches longer.  It also comes with 19-inch wheels.  “Big wheels are masculine,” Bischoff said.  With the different engine designs the car will get between 29 and 40 mpg.

The redesigned New Beetle will be available for U.S. consumers in September.