Volkswagen has today unveiled a new Beetle, the GSR, at the Chicago Auto Show, with a unique design and powerful 210 PS turbocharged engine. A ‘real’ limited edition, just 3,500 of these cars will be made worldwide. The GSR has a legendary predecessor, the ‘Yellow/Black Racer’ which was based on the Beetle 1303 S and made its debut 40 years ago. Only 3,500 of this car were produced as well. Orders for the Beetle GSR can be made from May onwards; the cars will be delivered from the autumn. Only 100 are expected to be imported into the UK.
With regard to design, Volkswagen has re-interpreted the concept of the 1970’s GSR for the modern era. Just like the GSR from days gone by, the body of the new version is yellow. The bonnet and the boot lid of the 1973 Beetle were painted in matt black, as were the bumpers. Black trim strips underneath the side windows and black/yellow side stripes above the doorsills rounded off the look. Now, yellow and black are the link between old and new – the bonnet and the boot lid of the new Beetle GSR are black once again, however the roof and the exterior mirror trims are also black on the new model. Black/yellow stripes with “GSR” lettering ensure a unique silhouette above the side sills. Yellow painted bumpers in new R-Line design and a yellow/black rear spoiler complete the GSR look. Unlike the older Beetle – and for those who prefer something a little more subtle, the Beetle GSR can also be ordered in Platinum Grey and Black.
The 15-inch steel wheels (with 175 size tyres) which were commonly used 40 years ago, even for sporty cars, and the “Tornado” 19-inch alloy wheels (painted black) with 235/40 tyres on the Beetle GSR are worlds apart. The black/yellow interior of the GSR from days gone by featured a leather sports steering wheel and sports seats for an extra-dynamic Beetle performance.
Four decades later, it is the ergonomically sophisticated, R-Line racing track sports seats (with fabric covers and contrasting yellow stitching; US version in black leather), a high-grip leather sports steering wheel (again with contrasting yellow stitching) with R-Line logo and a limited edition badge with the special edition number (1 to 3,500) which give the GSR its special character. The car also boasts an R-Line dash pad (designer panel for the dashboard), GSR gear stick, leather handbrake lever and black floor mats with contrasting yellow embroidery.
Forty years ago, the yellow/black Beetle needed precisely 50 PS to turn the world of compact cars on its head. But this world has turned much faster. The new Beetle GSR with its 210 PS engine needs just 7.3 seconds to accelerate to 62 mph. It has a top speed of 142 mph. The torque characteristic of the Beetle GSR is even more impressive than the pure road performance. From as low as 1,700 rpm, the turbocharged engine achieves its maximum torque of 280 Nm; the value remains at this high level up to 5,200 rpm. However, despite this, the car records an average consumption of 7.3 l/100 km (approx. 38.7 mpg) which is low in view of its dynamic performance. As an option, the new Beetle GSR can also be ordered with a six-speed DSG as an alternative to the six-speed manual gearbox.
The combination of performance, design, equipment and the limited number of cars will ensure that the Beetle GSR will quickly become a collector’s item. The same was also true of the Beetle 1303 S: today it is one of the most expensive and sought-after 1970s versions of what was then the most successful car in the world. It will therefore be interesting to see what the Beetle GSR will be valued at in 2053. We’ll let you know…