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Turbo Beetle for Australia

VW's much-hyped Beetle may be joined by a rapid turbo version towards the end of next year.

Fans of the VW Beetle will keenly anticipate the arrival of a barnstorming turbo version capable of 210km/h.

23 Jun 1999

VOLKSWAGEN'S much-hyped Beetle, due here in January 2000, is likely to be joined by a turbo variant later on.

The Beetle turbo was launched in the US recently and has earned praise from respected British publication Autocar for its strong performance and sound dynamics.

By the time it gets here, probably in late 2000 or early 2001, it may be priced around $48,000 in today's money.

Although VW Australia marketing manager Oliver Mann will not confirm an arrival date or pricing, he says the company is keen to sell the car here.

It uses the same 1.8-litre turbo engine as the recently launched VW Golf GTi, which sells for $43,990.

This powerplant generates 110kW at 5700rpm and 210Nm at 4600rpm, a useful improvement on the standard Beetle's outputs of 86kW and 170Nm.

Relaying the power to the front wheels is a five-speed manual transmission or optional four-speed automatic.

The turbo powerplant enables the Beetle to sprint from standstill to 100km/h in under eight seconds, on its way top speed of around 210km/h - a far cry from Bugs of a bygone era.

Even the Golf GTi cannot match the turbo Beetle for straight-line performance, according to Autocar.

There are virtually no external clues to the extra performance with nary a turbo badge in sight.

In fact, the only visible distinguishing element from the standard Beetle is a tiny wing - which raises automatically - above the rear window.

However, few people will notice the wing as it does not deploy until the car attains a speed of nearly 150km/h.

Autocar praises not only the car's torquey engine, but also its fine road manners, saying it feels sharper and better balanced than the Golf GTi.

Surprisingly, the turbo uses the same suspension as the normally- aspirated model - albeit with slightly uprated springs.

The extra performance is kept in check by bigger brakes, with the front discs increasing in size from 280mm to 287mm. Anti-lock braking is standard.

Meanwhile, VW Australia is anticipating strong pent-up demand for the standard Beetle, forecasting 2000 sales in its first year on the market.

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