What’s black/yellow, can bullet through the 0-100 km/h mark in a tick over 18 seconds and is considered one of the people’s cars most collectible scarabs? Volkswagen’s wasp-colored 1303s Beetle, circa 1973, of course. The German automaker’s "Sport Beetle" was a limited edition, with only 3500 copies made available to the public. Aside from the obvious aesthetic markers, the 1303S carried with it the bullet-proof, almighty and all-powerful flat-4 capable of delivering 50 hp and 78 lb/ft of torque to the back wheels.
Jump forward 40 years and consumers find themselves faced with another yellow and black conundrum. Unveiled at the Chicago Auto Show, Volkswagen's 2013 GSR Beetle, like its 40 year old predecessor, will enjoy a limited run of only 3,500 when released into the world this May.
The stripey new GSR secures a 150 hp increase from its predecessor, amping up power to the front wheels to 200 hp, enabling a sprint to 100 km/h (0-62 mph) in just 7.3 seconds. With a top speed of 230 km/h (143 mph), power is made available to the wheels via either a 6-speed manual or DSG autobox. VW’s tried and true, turbo-charged 4 cylinder provides the go juice. And unlike the 40 year old’s 15-inch steel rim setup, the new GSR gets serious footing with black “Tornado” 19-inch alloy wheels and 235/40 rubbers.
Black stripes running just above the door sills, between the fore and aft haunches, are broken up by "GSR" in custom typographical treatment, further aesthetic testament to the car’s sporty nature and limited availability. In keeping with the theme of matte black on yellow, new R-Line design bumpers and a yellow/black rear spoiler were added to the model. Roof, side mirrors, the hood and trunk also receive the matte black color treatment.
Inside, the yellow/black sporty-bug theme continues. R-Line sports seats, with contrasting yellow stitching (US version in black leather) provide the butt hugging/lateral support for spirited driving. A high-grip leather sports steering wheel, with yellow stitching, R-Line logo and limited edition GSR badge at the 6 o’clock position help to rationalize the purchase while keeping your hands firmly on the wheel. GSR yellow on blackness continues throughout with an R-Line dash pad, a GSR gear stick, leather handbrake lever and of course, black floor mats with contrasting yellow embroidery in case you temporarily forgot where you were.
Whether the GSR holds interest and value the way the 1303S does in 40 years remains to be seen. It will be available in May for €30,300 (US$40,500).