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When translated from the German, GSR means this car is a Yellow Black Racer.
Some men lack the self-confidence and overall security to be seen in a Volkswagen Beetle. After all, there are tons of stereotypes around this otherwise-legendary vehicle about it being a girly car. After growing up watching Walt Disney’s Herbie movies and being a car guy in general, I’ve always maintained that I would rock a black Beetle TDI any day of the week. Varying slightly from this, I spent a week with the 2014 Volkswagen Beetle GSR and put it through its paces.
GSR stands for “Gelb Schwarzer Renner”, which, when translated from the German, means this car is a Yellow Black Racer. Yellow and black it is; this Beetle comes painted in a bright Saturn Yellow colour with black stripes and accents all over it. If the Chevrolet Camaro from the Transformers’ series hadn’t claimed the “Bumblebee” title, the Beetle GSR would have it. This hatchback definitely stands out in a crowd, and its LED daytime-running lights help it stand out even more. R-Line bumpers, a unique rear spoiler, and prominent GSR badging throughout the exterior ensure that nobody will mistake this for any old Bug.
Under the yellow-with-black-stripes hood of the Beetle GSR is Volkswagen’s familiar 2.0L turbocharged inline 4-cylinder powertrain. Here, it puts out 210 horsepower and 207 lb-ft of torque, and is mated to the equally-familiar 6-speed DSG dual-clutch transmission. The way this Beetle GSR drives is a bit of a flashback. It reminds me of the just-replaced Mark VI Volkswagen GTI, a car that I will never forget. The acceleration is just right, turbo lag is minimal, and the shifts from the DSG are blip-blip-blip quick. This isn’t your garden-variety Beetle.
Cornering and handling has never been a strong suit of the Volkswagen Beetle, no matter what the variant or motor. The GSR is capable of changing that reputation; the springs are just right for the curves without demonstrating too much body roll. I was pleasantly surprised at how much fun this Bug is; I really wasn’t expecting this excitement level from the car. The 19” Tornado-style alloys are mated to some sticky rubber, so there isn’t all that much understeer either. At the end of the day though, the GSR is still a front-wheel-drive machine, and should be treated as such. For extensive track-day use, I’d still prefer a rear or all-wheel-drive setup.
Fuel economy of the Beetle GSR doesn’t really differ from our observations with other turbocharged Bugs. It does command premium fuel, but with a fun car that practically begs you to push it harder, I don’t have the slightest issue with this. I observed 8.9L/100km over my daily commute, and as low as 7L/100km on the highway. This isn’t with the lightest foot, so I could see the hypermilers getting slightly better numbers.
The GSR trim is a limited edition model that already comes pretty loaded. However, there are a few options that can be added on, and my tester came with these boxes ticked off. The 6-speed manual model is cheaper; the equipped DSG transmission adds a few dollars to the price tag. My car also had the Technology Package, which adds a navigation system and the 400-watt Fender audio system with 8-speakers and subwoofer. This package adds $1,090 to the sticker, coming in at just over $36,000 as-tested. The infotainment system on-board is no different than the one in most other Volkswagens, and does the job nicely. It’s responsive and reasonably fast. Of course, I do wish that they allowed use of regular USB cables rather than the proprietary Volkswagen one…
Interior room inside all iterations of Volkswagen Beetle is plenty. Of course, the Beetle has grown significantly with the times since its conception many decades ago, so it’s not exactly the tiny, honest car it once was. It still has the same jolly, happy-go-lucky character though. There are the legendary grab-handles on the B-pillar, feeling strong as ever. The GSR has some neat yellow stitching on the steering wheel and in various other places throughout the cabin. Both front seats are embroidered with “GSR”, so you don’t forget that you got one of the limited edition models. The R-Line emblem on the bottom of the flat-bottomed steering wheel also says what production number GSR yours is.
Overall, the Beetle GSR is a pretty neat vehicle. I do wish it came in a couple different colors – I could see myself opting for a white one with black stripes or a black one with white or silvery stripes. As a young professional who does a ton of off-site consultation, I don’t think any clients would take me seriously in a bright yellow hatchback. The car itself is fine, but I think the overly flashy paint scheme takes away from its allure. Then again, for the younger crowd, the paint job could very well make up a good percentage of that very same allure. To each his own, but this GSR is definitely going to be something people remember decades from now.
2014 Volkswagen Beetle GSR Gallery