Although first seen in Frankfurt earlier this year, the VW Beetle R Concept made its American debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show this week. The US was the biggest market for the previous New Beetle, and the company is hoping it will remain that way with the new vehicle.
While the familiar Beetle outline is easily distinguished, the R Concept adds redesigned front and rear bumpers, that are a 30mm wider than standard. Up front, it houses three intakes in a gloss-black finish; the central vent provides air to the radiator, and two side vents cool the brakes. Additional engine cooling is aided by vents on either side of the hood, that were a nice touch.
The gloss black paint also appears along the sides on the door mirror caps, door handles, the wider side sills and also on the roof.
It also appears on the rear wing, which was accidentally knocked off the concept during its arrival at the show. VW employees apparently had to scramble to refit the distinctive spoiler, which appeared in perfect condition for the show’s opening.
The rear fenders are 15 mm wider than stock, flowing into the wider rear bumper, which houses a diffuser and four exhaust tail pipes – two on either side.
The wheels are the five-spoke Talladega first seen on the VW Golf R and Scirocco R. However, these examples were a larger 20” diameter and finished in a rather unsightly chrome – they probably thought this would appeal to Californian drivers....
Behind the wheels are the characteristic blue-painted brake calipers from the other R models.
Inside, front occupants are held in hard-shell racing seats covered in black Nappa leather with grey nubuck panels. The same upholstery adorns the individual rear seats, while piping was in Volkswagen R’s trademark blue. The dash was accented in gloss black.
For the instrument panel, the tachometer was placed is in the middle, with the speedometer to the side. On top of the dash were three auxiliary instruments for oil temperature, boost pressure and a stopwatch – all with distinctive blue needles.
As for the engine… VW explained that the car is only a concept, but that the currently Golf R and Scirocco R use a 2.0L four-cylinder turbocharged unit providing 270 and 265hp respectively. However, a VW spokesman also explained that the engine in these existing cars is the previous generation 2.0TSI, rather than the newer FSI unit.
This could cause a problem because the older engine is only used in the R models and Audi S3, but that it’s life expectancy wasn’t long. And with no high output version of the FSI engine on the cards, the team at R GmbH was looking at two other alternatives. Although no further clues were given, this could include a turbo version of the five-cylinder engine found in North American version and heavily modified for the Audi TT RS. There is also a possibility of a naturally aspirated VR6 engine, although this seems a long shot.
It would also seem unlikely at present that the Beetle R would get all-wheel drive like the current Golf R. It is perhaps more likely to be FWD like the Scirocco R, but again, both options are under investigation.
So while we probably won’t see the Beetle R until 2014, there’s plenty of time to finalize its specification before it comes to market.