2014 Volkswagen Beetle GSR: Track Tested

Screaming, Yellow, Bonkers?

Edmunds tests hundreds of vehicles a year. Cars, trucks, SUVs, we run them all, and the numbers always tell a story. With that in mind we present "Edmunds Track Tested," a quick rundown of all the data we collect at the track, along with comments direct from the test drivers. Enjoy.

The 2014 Volkswagen Beetle GSR is another one of those throwback specials intended to raid the vault of nostalgia and convince someone, anyone, that the new New Beetle isn't a chick car.

The Beetle GSR, short for "Gelb Schwarzer Renner" or "Yellow Black Racer," draws inspiration from a performance version of the Beetle from 1973 that was, as you'd expect, dressed like a bumblebee. But unlike that car, this one is available with a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder. This special-edition Beetle, based off of the R-Line (formerly "Turbo") edition, also gets special 19-inch wheels and a special yellow-and-black interior with sport seats.

Volkswagen knows there's a limited market for a car with a paint job this unique. As such, there are only going to be 3,500 built, with roughly half coming to the U.S. Beyond that, however, this Beetle (and the R-Line) gets VW's hopped-up 2.0-liter, which now produces 210 horsepower, up from 200 in the Beetle Turbo. Does it make a difference? Can it outrun the paint job?

Vehicle: 2014 Volkswagen Beetle GSR
Odometer: 1,941
Date: 10/22/2013
Driver: Chris Walton
Price: $30,815 (base)

Drive Type: Front engine, front-wheel drive
Transmission Type: Six-speed manual
Engine Type: Turbocharged four-cylinder
Displacement (cc/cu-in): 1,984/121
Horsepower (hp @ rpm): 210 @ 5,300
Torque (lb-ft @ rpm): 207 @ 1,700
Brake Type (front): 12.3-inch ventilated discs with single-piston sliding calipers
Brake Type (rear): 10.7-inch solid discs with single-piston sliding calipers
Suspension Type (front): Independent MacPherson struts, coil springs, stabilizer bar
Suspension Type (rear): Multilink, coil springs, stabilizer bar
Tire Size (front): 235/40R19 (92H) M+S
Tire Size (rear): 235/40R19 (92H) M+S
Tire Brand: Continental
Tire Model: ContiProContact
Tire Type: All-season
As Tested Curb Weight (lb): 3,147

Test Results:

0-30 (sec): 2.5 (2.8 w/ TC on)
0-45 (sec): 4.3 (4.7 w/ TC on)
0-60 (sec): 6.5 (6.9 w/ TC on)
0-60 with 1-ft Rollout (sec): 6.3 (6.6 w/ TC on)
0-75 (sec): 9.5 (9.8 w/ TC on)
1/4-Mile (sec @ mph): 14.7 @ 95.0 (15.0 @ 94.8 w/ TC on)

30-0 (ft): 30
60-0 (ft): 118

Slalom (mph): 66.6
Skid Pad Lateral Acceleration (g): 0.86 (ESC on)

RPM @ 70: 2,300

Acceleration: It's a little frustrating to have a sporty car with a manual transmission and no button to disable traction control. There's plenty of power here for an aggressive launch, but the only way around the nanny was to use quite a lot of clutch to maintain revs and forward momentum without spinning the tires. This nets about a half-second in the acceleration time. The shifter throws feel a little long, but the gear ratios feel spot-on for the characteristics of the turbo engine. Love the easy-to-read large tachometer. Linear power delivery at wide-open throttle, and it doesn't wane as the revs climb. Didn't observe any heat soak, as the trap speeds stayed consistent. Decently engaging and fun to drive in that counterintuitive Super Beetle way.

Braking: Medium-firm pedal, some dive, but no wiggle during panic stops from 60 mph. The first stop was much shorter than the rest that followed, but those remaining stops were very consistent. No fade or odor thereafter.

Handling: All handling tests were conducted with full traction control and electronic stability control because there is no button for a dynamic or disabled mode.

Slalom: Good steering response and precision, but also quite a lot of roll and grip. So while it's not what I'd call a "confident" handler, there is some latent capability here if you ask for it within the ever-present envelope of the electronic stability control system. Despite the roll, this car transitions quite well and even feels like it might rotate given a longer leash. Pretty good results and fun to chuck between the cones, too.

Skid Pad: When the mild understeer begins at the front, the throttle goes away. If the front grip is exceeded too abruptly, the brakes begin to intervene as well. Steering weight is acceptable and precision is good, even if the feel is rather spring-loaded. Ample support from the sporty seats.

The manufacturer provided Edmunds this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.

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