Volkswagen Beetle GSR – Sporty 1970s Throwback

Some things from the 1970s are best left in the past. Bell bottoms, for instance. Genesis. Richard Nixon.

Others, like the Volkswagen Beetle ‘Racer’, we’re happy to see again – and VW has responded by launching the Beetle GSR at the Chicago Auto Show.

That rather vivid hue is a deliberate throwback to the 1970s special edition, based on the 1.6-litre 1303S. The Beetle was never particularly sporty, but with a lick of yellow paint, some black-painted panels and a three-spoke sport steering wheel, the original was as close as it got.

Volkswagen Beetle GSR interior

The new car gets a similar paint scheme, with yellow bodywork and a black-painted bonnet and bootlid, with the addition of a black roof, a few stripes and a GSR logo down the side.

These days the 50-horsepower flat-four “powering” the classic is less than you’d get from a basic Volkswagen Up, so the GSR has been granted something a little more potent.

Under the bonnet – in the front, remember – there’s a 2.0-litre, turbocharged four-cylinder producing 210 PS. With a six-speed manual gearbox (the DSG dual-clutch auto is optional) it’ll sprint to 60 mph in less time than it takes to trim a pair of sideburns (7.3 seconds, to be precise). The original would get there in only slightly less time than it’d take to grow some…

Volkswagen Beetle GSR logo

Tornado 19-inch alloy wheels slot under the yellow arches, both significantly wider and larger in diameter than the original. Yellow-stiched fabric sport seats and a yellow-stitched leather steering wheel jazz up the inside, while a numbered plaque – from only 3,500 cars – adorns the interior.

Only 100 of those 3,500 cars will ever hit UK shores, so you’d best register your interest quickly.

Priced from: Not yet announced
Available from: Order in May, deliveries begin Autumn

Volkswagen Beetle GSR rear


This isn’t the first Beetle retro special edition we’ve seen – a trio of Beetle Cabrio specials was unveiled back in November – but it’s one of the most evocative. The GSR has real performance unlike its predecessor, and its limited numbers are sure to make it collectable. Now if you don’t mind, we’re off to listen to some Hendrix on our Sony Walkman…
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