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Vital Stats

Engine:
Turbo 2.0L I4
Power:
210 HP / 207 LB-FT
Transmission:
6-Speed Manual
0-60 Time:
6.6 Seconds
Top Speed:
130 MPH (limited)
Drivetrain:
Front-Wheel Drive
Curb Weight:
3,056 LBS
Seating:
2+2
Cargo:
29.9 CU-FT (max)
MPG:
21 City / 30 HWY
Base Price:
$29,995
As Tested Price:
$30,850
Despite all of the positive reviews it has garnered since its introduction in 2011, the Volkswagen Beetle still hasn't hooked me. It's nice to drive, and with a variety of engine choices (including diesel) and two different bodystyles, it's an incredibly versatile little car, ready to meet the needs of a whole host of customers. But personally, I just don't think I could wake up to that happy-friendly (yet sort of drowsy?) face every morning.

For 2014, Volkswagen is offering this limited edition GSR model – only 3,500 examples will be made – based on the sportier R-Line trim, and painted in a unique yellow/black scheme that pays homage to the "Yellow Black Racer" of the 1970s. It's a fun, flashy little thing, and I recently spent a week with GSR No. 216 to see if it would change my mind about the Beetle formula as a whole.

Driving Notes
  • As I said, the GSR – or more specifically, the Beetle Turbo – is pretty great to drive. It uses VW's lovely 2.0-liter turbocharged inline four-cylinder engine, rated at 210 horsepower and 207 pound-feet of torque. Equipped with the six-speed manual transmission of my test car, the Beetle GSR will hit 60 miles per hour in a very respectable 6.6 seconds.
  • Not surprisingly, considering its dimensions, powertrain and weight, the Beetle GSR drives a lot like Volkswagen's own GTI – one of my favorite hot hatches. The Bug's wheelbase is an inch and a half shorter, and though it sits 0.7 inches higher off the ground, the Beetle is actually shorter in overall height by 0.2 inches. A bit of weight is saved here, too, with the GSR weighing in at 3,056 pounds compared to the GTI's 3,113. The 2.0T engine in the GSR is actually good for an additional 10 hp over the GTI, as well.
  • Unique to the GSR are 19-inch Tornado alloy wheels, wrapped in P235/40R19 Continental ContiProContact tires. But even with the ever-so-slightly sportier R-Line setup and this relatively large set of rolling stock, the car never felt crashy or too stiff on the road, even when traversing the rough surfaces in and around Detroit. Instead, the Beetle offers a comfortable, solid ride feel, great for highway cruising and pretty nicely set up for moments of aggression on twisty backroads. It's no track attacker, to be sure, but it's a really solid balance that's great for an everyday driver – something I've said before about the GTI.
  • The standard Beetle models already stand out in a crowd, thanks to its distinctive shape and too-cute looks (though the new-generation car uses a decidedly more masculine design approach). But man, this GSR sure does garner a whole mess of attention. A girl in a Mini nearly rear-ended someone on a side street while sticking her neck out the window to check out the GSR, and the guys at the car wash laughed at me. Literally every day, I was pointed at, smiled at, and, of course, honked at by other Beetle owners. Of course, the unique, limited-edition black-and-yellow color scheme is to blame for a lot of this attention, but even so, it doesn't strike me as an unusual color combo for the Beetle.
  • Inside, the GSR was loaded to the gills with every amenity offered on the Beetle models – sunroof, navigation, Bluetooth audio, heated seats, and so on. The black leather seats have yellow contrast stitching with special GSR logos, and that same color treatment is carried over to the flat-bottomed steering wheel (that could stand to be a bit thicker-rimmed, methinks), with a serialized number plate below the R-Line logo, specifically for the GSR.
  • Outside, in addition to the 19-inch wheels, GSR models come standard with bi-xenon headlamps with LED running lights, foglamps, and the rear spoiler of the Turbo model (which, for the record, I hate).
  • But that's all for a price: just over $30,000, including $820 for destination. And while folks who like the unique Beetle package might not be put off by this number (a loaded Turbo starts at the same $29,995), to me, it seems like a far worse bargain than the already-sort-of-pricey, more functional, less-flashy, just-as-good-to-drive four-door GTI with the same options.
  • So no, I'm not sold on the Beetle package, only because I love the GTI so much. But for those who like the added style of the iconic VW design, those GTI bones make for a really rewarding driving experience that'd be easy to live with day in and day out.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 44 Comments
      Ghia
      • 1 Year Ago
      I don't think those wheels are unique to the GSR. I've seen them offered for two years now as an option.
      Paul M
      • 1 Year Ago
      Ok, I'm down with this. Pretty cool, overall. Just needs more power. But, here's the thing... I'm 6'2" and don't fit in ANY current VW or Audi models. It's not that the seats don't go back far enough or whatever, it's that the dash is stupidly vertical in orientation UNDER the mid section, such that my legs/knees hit it constantly underneath and are too cramped. And if I move back my seat such that my legs are lower, then my arms can't reach the wheel (even with telescoping). I had an S4 and 2nd gen R32, and they both had this problem. I had to sell them both within a year of ownership because they were just too dang ergonomically challenged (but really, really well-built, otherwise). Oddly enough, my current Mini Cooper S fits me just fine and has plenty of room for my legs in all directions.
        Dayv
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Paul M
        It sounds like you're sort of an ergonomic anomaly in this car. I know people of all sizes that have driven VWs happily. At 5'11" I love my Golf R, and feel crowded and claustrophobic in my wife's Mini. If anything, this is just evidence that a test drive is necessary for any car not just to see if you like it, but to really pay attention to whether it can be adjusted to fit you. Everyone has different proportions.
      Ferris Macau
      • 1 Year Ago
      They should KILL the beetle, it's OVER, It's no longer cool, it's done, stick a fork in it. The 'New Beetle' aka 98 - 2010 ran it's course, it was cool when it came out but now it's time to move on.
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Ferris Macau
        [blocked]
      collabplan
      • 1 Year Ago
      I am a HUGE Audi fanboy and VAG loyalist. But...this model is just ridiculous. If secretaries want to buy a regular Beetle to tool around in, fine. Any performance versions of this silly car, however, are absurd. A rare fail by VAG.
        Mr E
        • 1 Year Ago
        @collabplan
        Isn't this essentially just a restyled Golf though? Whatever you think about the body style, why would a performance version of the Beetle be so absurd whereas GTIs are praised left and right?
      EZen
      • 1 Year Ago
      VW - stop trying to make the Beetle happen. It's not going to happen. It was never better than when it was completely rounded and actively meant for girls. You already have the Golf for guys. If you were smart, you'd leave the Golf to be the all-around hatchback in both gas and diesel options and then BRING THE FREAKING SCIROCCO!! The Scirocco is so much better looking and that in 200HP, 250HP and 300HP VR6/AWD would sell a lot more. I owned a GTI and it was nice but didn't have enough power and wasn't particularly good looking.
        EvoShift2
        • 1 Year Ago
        @EZen
        EZen said "VW - stop trying to make the Beetle happen. It's not going to happen." Ummm, you do realize how many Beetle's VW has sold over the years right? I'm pretty sure the Beetle *has* already happened.
        Lachmund
        • 1 Year Ago
        @EZen
        it's already happening so I guess VW doesn't care abt your opinion. Besides there is not VR6 Scirocco.
      GoBolts
      • 1 Year Ago
      No matter how you dress it, it's still a chic car. This turbo Beetle had a baby....the 500. Hello Kitty design theme is much more appropriate.
      ferps
      • 1 Year Ago
      I'm not sure why the new New Beetle exists at all, and this version looks ridiculous.
      Ben Lee
      • 1 Year Ago
      I would never buy this but I love the interior with the tidy dash board. The seats looks cool as well. Looking like an upright 911
      vi_per
      • 1 Year Ago
      That dashboard tops a Corolla in terms of ugliness.
      TrippulG3
      • 1 Year Ago
      "...and the guys at the car wash laughed at me." Pretty much says it all.
        48Chevy
        • 1 Year Ago
        @TrippulG3
        Maybe they would have preferred that he drove a Veloster: the VW Beetle for men without a spine.
          TrippulG3
          • 1 Year Ago
          @48Chevy
          I would drive a Veloster Turbo all day, every day before I gave VW any of my money for this thing.
      Duck
      • 1 Year Ago
      I wonder if VW is paying Autoblog to delete any comments that imply the Beetle is an effeminate car. I keep seeing them pop up and disappear, lol!
      protovici
      • 1 Year Ago
      Priced $10K to high.
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