Known as a love bug, not a fighter, the original Volkswagen Beetle was never pitched as an all-out performance vehicle. Though the highly produced German people’s car gripped many owners with the Beetle’s unique abilities, the rear-mounted, air-cooled engine never clicked as a go-to sports vehicle. Even the 1997 introduction of the new Beetle did not immediately step out of their normal commuter car footprint until 2001. Developing the 221-horsepower Beetle RSI, the limited edition Volkswagen stunned the marketplace unaccustomed to seeing such a modded version of the vehicle. Ten years later, Volkswagen has proceeded to pay an indirect homage to the Beetle RSI with a performance-tailored show car. Debuting at the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show in September, the Volkswagen Beetle R joins the extensive list of cars on display at the 2011 Los Angeles Auto Show.
As the redesigned 21st century Volkswagen Beetle for 2012 attempts to shake off some of its cuteness, customizing the special Beetle R Concept required the German automaker’s engineers to realize the vehicle’s potential as a street performer. Dressed primarily in Serious Gray paint, the Beetle R Concept adapts the stylized factory sport compact nature Volkswagen inserted into the Golf R road car as well as the only-for-Europe Scirocco R sports car. Widened by 1.2 inches for an improved stance, aerodynamics pieces incorporated on the Beetle R Concept includes chrome front splitter as well as a rear featuring a deck spoiler and diffuser.
With the additional body width, the Volkswagen Beetle R Concept utilizes the extra space on the front fascia that now wears a three-slotted air intake. Accented in Black High Gloss colouring, two of the Beetle R openings supplies brake cooling while the center air intake draws additional air into the turbocharged engine for better breathing. Openings on the left and right corners of the hood of the Volkswagen Beetle R are also added to cool the powerplant under higher strain conditions. Besides the front air openings, there is venting located behind the rear tires well’s bodywork of the Volkswagen Beetle R designed to improve vehicle aerodynamics.
Besides the exterior enhancements made to support aerodynamics and performance, the Volkswagen Beetle R 20-inch wheels is a sport touch that truly jazzes up the vehicle’s outer presentation. Crafted in the same Talladega design used on the Golf R and Scirocco R, the concept car’s 20-inch set of aluminum alloys is more sizable than the production Volkswagen R vehicles. These massive wheels only slightly hide the R-specific black-painted brake calipers.
Inside of the Beetle R Concept‘s black and gray nubuck cabin, front passengers are greeted by two-tone Nappa leather sport seats sculpted in a pattern resembling endurance competition cars. A third colour called Space Blue is assembled as piping as well as the accent tone for the ‘R’ badging on the headrests. The Volkswagen Beetle R Concept interior maintains all the modern, high-class controls for interior comfort but also fashions itself to a sportier purpose in subtle regards. A sports car-like instrument display on the Beetle R centers the tachometer for easy viewing by the driver. Brushed aluminum pedals, a decorated shifter handle and special floormats completes the interior dress-ups of note on the Volkswagen Beetle R Concept.
Presenting the styling aspects, Volkswagen has not elaborated on the exact engine performance specifications other than stating the Beetle R produces more horsepower than the Turbo Beetle. Suspension enhancements and key performance numbers are also left to the imagination for this Volkswagen Concept car (at least for the meantime).
Very close to production quality, Volkswagen has not confirmed the car or, most importantly, if any Beetle R models are coming to the United States. Engineering-wise, production of the Beetle R is very feasible based on the fact the new Volkswagen Beetle shares a platform with the current Golf. If the Los Angeles Auto Show crowd judges the concept edition of the Volkswagen Beetle R favourably, a production greenlight could come very soon.