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Frankfurt show: Volkswagen Beetle R may fly FWD, V6

Less flower, more power: The Beetle R is expected to be powered by the same 2.0-litre turbo as the Golf R.

VW likely to appease both Euros and Americans for its upcoming retro blaster

15 Sep 2011

By BYRON MATHIOUDAKIS in FRANKFURT

VOLKSWAGEN’S Beetle R Concept may have been overshadowed by the vital new Up baby car at the Frankfurt show, but a groundswell of speculation about the upcoming fastest production Bug in history points to not one but two engine choices according to market requirements – including a V6.

Furthermore, the post-modern four-seater coupe will follow another Volkswagen R model that fits that description – the Scirocco – in being front-wheel drive.

While the German conglomerate has not yet confirmed Beetle R production, a source within Volkswagen AG said the green light is only a formality.

Production is scheduled to commence at the Puebla, Mexico facility some time next year, with an Australian launch not likely to happen before 2013. A Beetle R Convertible is also on the cards to join the coupe at a later date.

Wolfsburg has already stated that it is getting serious about taking on the likes of the Mini Cooper JCW and the Abarth 500 Essesse with a Beetle that pushes the performance envelope compared with the previous-generation model.

As GoAuto reported earlier this week, the expected powerplant choice for Europe and probably Australia will be a development of the 188kW/330Nm 2.0-litre direct-injection turbo unit found in the Golf and upcoming Scirocco R.

However it appears that American tastes for the Beetle – by far the retro coupe’s biggest market – is dictating the shoehorning in of a narrow-angle V6.

The most likely candidate is the 184kW/320Nm 3.2-litre FSI direct-injection engine found in the previous-generation Golf R32, although the 220kW/350Nm 3.6-litre FSI unit currently motivating the Passat is also being bandied about.

Whether the front wheels will be driven exclusively by a DSG dual-clutch transmission or go old-school by offering a six-speed manual gearbox is not yet known.

Going front-wheel drive instead of all-wheel drive is believed to be related to the fact that the Beetle has not been engineered for the latter.

It is also thought that the more sophisticated multi-link rear suspension system, rather than the more cost-effective torsion beam set-up to be used in less-powerful and cheaper variants, will underpin the Beetle R.

As an image booster for a model that has been lambasted for prioritising style over substance, the move to either high-performance engine choice – as well as the independent suspension system – signals a move to make the Beetle a more attractive proposition to enthusiasts.

As with the Golf and Scirocco R, the Beetle R Concept was created by performance subsidiary Volkswagen R GmbH near Wolfsburg.

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