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2014 Volkswagen Beetle GSR First Impressions

Napa Valley, CA - It seems the VW Beetle and I have become quite good acquaintances over the past year or so. From attending the launch of the new Beetle in Berlin to driving drop-top and Super versions of the friendly German hatch, I’m actually quite grateful to count it amongst my vehicular friends.

I was able to add to my Beetle’s Driven list while on a recent trip in Napa Valley, California. The 2014 Volkswagen Beetle GSR and I bonded as we streaked through wineries and along winding mountainside roads.

Is it the best Beetle I’ve driven so far? Not quite, but it’s a great deal of fun, that’s for sure.

What is the Volkswagen Beetle GSR?
Essentially, the Beetle GSR is a turbocharged Beetle with a fancy paint job and unique interior design. However, it’s about a bit more than a bright exterior look, it’s also about heritage and history. The original GSR (which stands for Gelb-Schwarzer Renner meaning Yellow Black Racer in English) appeared in the 1970s and was a special edition Beetle bred to satisfy the needs of sport-car Volkswagen enthusiasts.

The current generation of the Beetle GSR is somewhat similar, as it is also a limited edition model (only 3,500 models will be made in total) and is based on the now R-Line Beetle (previously known as the Turbo) with a few cosmetic differences.

2014 Volkswagen Beetle GSR Price & Specs
As mentioned above, the VW Beetle GSR features the same internal specs as the Beetle R-Line. That means this little Bug is equipped with a 2.0L 4-cylinder turbocharged TSI that produces 210 horsepower and 207 lb-ft of torque. While a 6-speed manual transmission is available on the GSR model, I chose to take the 6-speed dual-clutch DSG automatic transmission -- yes, it’s that good. Power is pushed out the front wheels, and the 2014 Volkswagen Beetle GSR has an estimated fuel rating of 7.85 L/100 km (highway) with the DSG transmission.

As far as pricing goes, at the time of this writing Canadian figures weren’t available, but the 2014 Volkswagen Beetle GSR starts as a top-of-the-line Beetle R-Line with sunroof, sound and navigation ($29,995 USD). Then should you want the GSR’s exterior and interior upgrades as well as its exclusivity (with an interior plaque announcing which model you’ve purchased from the 3,500 limited units) that price jumps to $31,095 USD.

Driving the 2014 Volkswagen Beetle GSR
While some may mock the shape and look of the VW Beetle, they wouldn’t be so quick to chuckle if they sat behind the wheel and took it on some twisties. The rounded roof stiffens the structure and the short wheelbase helps the Beetle handle some pretty aggressive manoeuvres on the road. Add to that the fact that the 2.0L TSI is ready to play at all times, especially when equipped with the silky smooth DSG transmission, and you’ve got the ideal weekend “fun car.”

I was pleased with the 2014 Volkswagen Beetle GSR’s XDS cross differential system that ensured just the right amount of torque was delivered to the right wheel, no matter how curvy the Napa Valley roads became. Hunkering down into corners and powering out seemed child’s play to the Beetle, and it was happy to engage for our jaunt through the hilly, windy, Californian roads.

The 2014 Volkswagen Beetle GSR is really quite a lot of fun to drive -- even if you’re not traversing wildly turning roads through picturesque wine country. As a get-around-town vehicle, the Beetle GSR is just as much at home, which is great.

Inside and Out of the 2014 Volkswagen Beetle GSR
If you thought the regular Beetle would turn heads, then the GSR will have them stopping dead in their tracks and staring.

On top of the already decked out R-Line base on which the GSR starts (with 19” Tornado aluminum alloy wheels, bixenon headlights with LED daytime running lights that kind of make the Beetle look cross-eyed), you’ll get a brighter-than-the-sun yellow paint colour with black painted “racing stripes” as well as GSR logos on the side.

Inside, the 2014 Volkswagen Beetle GSR offers unique yellow-on-black stitching as well as GSR badging on the seat and on the glovebox.

Comparing the 2014 Volkswagen Beetle GSR
Those in the market for a VW Beetle clearly already want something different. Even in base trim the Beetle catches eyes (and hearts) on the road. With a heritage it wears on its happy little mug, the Beetle continues to garner new fans the globe over. The GSR only adds an extra element of special to it all.

However, its competition can boast the same since the likes of the Fiat 500 Abarth and MINI Cooper S are all nipping at its rounded little heels.
 

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    2014 Volkswagen Beetle
    volkswagen beetle 2014
    2014 Volkswagen Beetle
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