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40 Years Later, VW Brings Back Beetle GSR…With More Than 4X the Horsepower

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VW GSR models old (left) and new (right)

VW is bringing back the Beetle GSR 40 years after the original (left) debuted in 1973. The new Beetle GSR (right) has more than four times the 50 horsepower of the original. (Photo courtesy Volkswagen of America.)

Volkswagen unveiled an all-new version of the Beetle GSR at the Chicago Auto Show this week. While the original 1973 Beetle GSR was powered by a humble 50-horsepower flat-four– air-cooled, of course– the new GSR brings 210 turbocharged horses to the VW stable.

According to a press release from VW, the GSR stays mostly true to its forefather in appearance, featuring a body shell painted bright yellow, a hood that is “mostly black,” in VW’s words, and a trunk lid, roof, and mirror caps that are solid black. The 1973 Beetle GSR– an abbreviation of the German words “Gelb Schwarzer Renner,” which translates as “Yellow Black Racer”– featured an all-black hood (which at the time was actually the trunk lid, considering the air-cooled Beetle’s rear engine) and black bumpers, whereas the modern interpretation of the GSR has yellow on both those parts.

But the exterior changes are nothing compared to the powerplant changes. Beyond the obvious flip-flop of engine positioning compared to Beeltes of 40 years ago, the new GSR’s TSI 210-horsepower 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder engine is turbocharged. That should help the performance Bug scoot to 60 MPH from a dead stop in as little as 6.6 seconds, VW says. The car has an electronically governed top speed of 130 MPH.

The new Volkswagen Beetle GSR engine bay

Volksagen’s Beetle GSR now features a 2.0-liter TSI turbocharged inline four-cylinder engine good for 210 horsepower. (Photo courtesy Volkswagen of America.)

The turbocharger also does what all good turbochargers should do: It makes peak torque easier to access. All 207 ft-lbs of the Beetle GSR’s twist can be brought on at as little as 1,700 RPM if you plant your foot on the gas heavily enough. That should make driving the Beetle GSR entertaining whether you opt for the standard six-speed manual transmission or the optional dual-clutch six-speed automatic gearbox.

Inside the car, VW has extended the custom yellow-and-black color scheme to the dash and seats. In addition, the car is basically loaded up with VW’s tech goodies, including the Fender Premium Audio system, panoramic sunroof, keyless access with remote start capability, bi-xenon headlights, a Media Device Interface with iPod cable, three-color ambient lighting, Bluetooth connectivity, aluminum alloy pedals, heated front seats, and more. Many of these features come thanks to the Beetle Turbo with Sunroof and Sound Package, upon which the Beetle GSR was based.

Does all this have you craving the new-age, four-times-as-powerful Beetle GSR? We’d suggest you sign up early. Though Volkswagen says “more than half” of Beetle GSRs will be sold in the United States, global production will be limited just like the 1973 GSR to just 3,500 copies.

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