Who are you guys?
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It’s easy to feel invisible in this beige world of ours. Life is often complicated, relationships frequently correlated, truth and clarity routinely obfuscated. Who among us hasn’t fantasized at one time or another about busting through the haze and malaise? Well, as it turns out, the NSA isn’t the only entity that has been eyeballing closet champions. For 2014, Volkswagen is crowning the Beetle R-Line series with a limited-run GSR model. Spandex suit, cape, and goggles notwithstanding, you’re not likely to get any more attention driving a 2014 VW Beetle than in the screaming-yellow-zonkers and black-striped GSR. (Protip: Carefully heed speed-limit signs.)
The GSR (an abbreviation for gelb schwarzer Renner, or “yellow black racer”), however, is more than a brightly colored Beetle with tats. Whereas the first one sold in Europe back in 1973 was a 50-hp rear-engine Super Beetle in search of a strong tailwind, the 2014 iteration has more than four times the entomological scoot. With 210 horsepower powering its colorful thorax, the GSR isn’t only entertaining to drive but is also a spiritual analog to catch-me-if-you-can Vee-Dubs arriving shortly, such as the next-gen Golf GTI. That’s a 10-hp gain over previous Beetle Turbos, and there’s likely more power to be uncorked from the new EA888 turbocharged four down the road. In the meantime, there’s plenty of punch to run with other adventurously styled hot hatches, including the Mini Cooper S. Hyundai Veloster Turbo. and Fiat 500 Abarth.
Like all 2014 Beetles (and previous turbocharged cars), the GSR sports a multilink rear suspension with slightly better balance in the twisties than that of the old torsion beam and superior control over rough pavement. It’s a bit softer than what you’d see in a GTI, although the GSR’s 235/40-19 meats are the most rubber you can stuff under a Beetle. They team with the R-Line’s larger, 12.3-inch front discs to give the GSR what feels like autobahn-worthy stopping ability, and the car offers good top-of-pedal response. Transmission choices are a six-speed manual and a six-speed dual-clutch automatic; we only sampled the former. We’re big supporters of manual gearboxes, and the GSR’s buttery shifter and easy-to-modulate clutch don’t disappoint. The DSG automatic with full manual control would provide the fastest way down the quarter-mile, however, if that’s all you’re interested in.
Inside the GSR, things are toned down a bit with tasteful black leather sport seats and a leather-wrapped steering wheel highlighted with yellow stitching. Pushbutton start, a Fender premium audio system, aluminum pedals, a panoramic sunroof, ambient lighting, a turbo-boost gauge, and a clock with a stopwatch feature help round out the GSR’s cabin kit. VW plans a run of 3500 GSRs, the special-edition number of each emblazoned on a steering-wheel plaque.
So, with the GSR, consider the issue of Beetle banality solved. Now all you need to bust through the haze and malaise is a good sidekick.