Production of the all-new VW Beetle has officially started at the German manufacturer’s plant in Puebla, Mexico.And it will be in South African showroms in the first quarter of 2012. In a ceremony attended by Mexican president Felipe Calderón, the next generation of the car that has since 1949 been a mobility and design icon was prodded along the line. Close to five-million were sold between 1949 and 1981; another 1.15-million of the (then) New Beetle were sold between 1997 and 2010. CALLING ALL MALESBut where the New Beetle was described as a car for teenage girls and middle-aged women, VW hopes the coming car will attract more male buyers with its lower ride height, longer bonnet and sportier engines. An 'R' version, similar to the Golf and Scirocco R models launched recently in South Africa, has also been rumoured. Beetle manufacture is exclusive to the Puebla site which, as one of the largest in the VW network, also builds the Jetta and the Golf estate (not sold in South Africa).