Volkswagen is looking to recreate some of the magic from the 1970s by bringing back its “Yellow Black Racer.”
Also known as the GSR – short for the German name, Gelb Schwarzer Renner — it was the sportiest version of the classic Volkswagen Beetle 40 years back. Instantly recognizable by its distinctive color scheme, just 3500 units were built and they are now considered collectors’ items.
VW is hoping the 2014 Beetle GSR debuting at the Chicago Auto Show this week can build the same buzz for the third-generation Bug.
The bodyshell of the original 1973 Beetle was painted yellow, while the hood, trunklid, and bumpers were finished in matte black. The look was rounded out by black trim strips underneath the side windows and black rocker panels. Yellow and black link old and new: the body and the R-Line bumpers on the new GSR are predominantly yellow, the hood is mainly black, and the trunklid, roof, and the exterior mirror caps are all black
The new car has yellow/black stripes with “GSR” lettering above the side skirts and a large rear spoiler to complete the look.
The original Beetle GSR put out a full 50 horsepower – plenty for its era. But Volkswagen has pumped things up with the 2014 reincarnation of the Gelb Schwarzer Renner.
Powering the new GSR is a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline four-cylinder engine that makes 210 horsepower and 207 lb-ft of torque. It’s the same powertrain that will be fitted to the Jetta GLI and Beetle Turbo this model year, adding another 10 horsepower over the base engine.
That’s enough to get from 0 to 60 mph in just 6.6 seconds and to reach an electronically governed top track speed of 130 mph. The GSR is standard with a six-speed manual transmission, but a dual-clutch six-speed transmission will be an option.
There are some clear visual similarities to the original – not coincidentally – but the latest incarnation of the Beetle GSR is a very different beast. It rides on 19-inch “Tornado” aluminum-alloy wheels shod with 235/40 tires, compared with the original GSR’s 15-inch steel wheels and 175-section tires, which were quite common even on sporty cars back then. The new GSR also features black-painted brake calipers.
The GSR gets a splashy interior with a yellow/black theme, sport seats, and a leather sport steering wheel. Other interior changes include an R-Line dash pad, a GSR shift lever, a leather handbrake lever, and black floor mats with contrasting yellow embroidery.
A badge on the steering wheel is marked with the special-edition number to emphasize the uniqueness of the car.
Just like its predecessor, only 3500 GSR models will be made—and more than half of those will be sold in the U.S. Since the GSR is based on the Beetle Turbo with Sunroof and Sound model, it comes equipped with features such as the Fender Premium Audio System; a panoramic sunroof; Keyless access with push-button start; Bi-Xenon headlights with LED DRLs; Bluetooth® connectivity; aluminum-alloy pedals; and three auxiliary instruments that include a clock with a stopwatch function and a boost gauge.
The Volkswagen Beetle GSR will go on sale in the fall as a 2014 model; pricing will be announced closer to launch.
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