The Beetle R Concept has made its American debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show, following its unveiling in Frankfurt earlier this year. It’s no wonder that this attention-grabbing machine has crossed the Atlantic to seek the limelight in Los Angeles: the US was the biggest market for the previous New Beetle, and that’s likely to remain the same with the new vehicle.
While the familiar outline of the latest Beetle is still clear, the R Concept adds the kind of muscled enhancements that seem entirely appropriate in image-conscious California. The front and rear bumpers are completely redesigned, and are a generous 30 mm wider than standard. Three chunky air intakes in a black high-gloss finish dominate the front; the central one to provide air to the radiator, and the side two to aid cooling of the brakes. Additional engine cooling is provided by vents on either side of the top of the bonnet.
Along the sides flashes of gloss black give the Beetle R a distinctive look: it can be found on the door mirror caps (just as on the Golf R and Scirocco R), the door handles, the 15 mm wider side sills and also on the roof.
The rear wings are also 15 mm wider than is standard, helping them to flow purposefully into the wider rear bumper, which houses not only a diffuser, but also a quartet of exhaust pipes – two either side. Above this sits a large spoiler with a gloss black finish on top and body-coloured finish beneath.
The wheels are five-spoke Talladega alloys, which will be familiar to drivers of the Golf R or Scirocco R, though in this instance they measure 20 inches in diameter. Behind these sit blue-painted brake callipers.
Inside, both driver and front passenger are held snugly in hard-shell racing seats covered in black Nappa leather offset by grippy grey nubuck panels. The same upholstery adorns the individual rear seats. The seat seams and piping are in Volkswagen R’s trademark blue colour, while the dashboard is accented with high gloss black.
The instrument panel highlights the Beetle R’s sporting intent: the tachometer is in the middle (and the speedometer to the side), while atop the dashboard are three auxiliary instruments: an oil temperature gauge, chronometer and turbo boost pressure indicator, all with distinctive blue needles.
As for the engine… this car is only a concept for now, but the Beetle R’s production siblings, the Golf R and Scirocco R, use a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged unit providing 270 PS and 265 PS respectively.