A new bug and the ultimate Beetle

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Wednesday, February 26, 2014

NOT to be outdone by its Korean and Japanese rivals, German car maker Volkswagen recently displayed its 'Beetle Dune' concept car at the North American International Auto Show.

I'm not really sure why VW would call this a concept car as it really doesn't look much different to the existing Beetle R-Line. And to call it a bug would seem to be a bit of misnomer as VW bugs in the past were go- anywhere, top-down fun vehicles at home on sand or other bits of rough terrain.

True the Dune sports an extra two inches of ground clearance and is also a bit wider, 0.8 inches taller and half-an-inch longer than the production model.


It does have a 210-horsepower, turbo-charged 2.0-liter four-cylinder and six-speed dual-clutch transmission as its base. And it features 19-inch spoked aluminum wheels, a chrome-plated underbody skidplate, and side trim strips that are described as being 'reminiscent of the original Beetle’s running boards.'

On its rear, there's a clever ski and snowboard rack integrated into the rear spoiler. The spoiler slides away, accommodating the gear, and then snaps back into place, securing them against the trunk lid. Not much use here in the sunny Philippines, but perhaps VW could adapt it to carry a mountain bike or two.

It's a nice-looking VW, but unlike the bugs of yesteryears somehow I can't see this one romping over sand loaded with teenagers all heading for the surf. Or perhaps I'm just showing my age.

Meanwhile, VW is introducing its iconic Beetle to the rallycross circuit. The car maker recently unveiled the Global Rallycross (GRC) Beetle. But, unlike the Dune, this is no concept car. It’s down to compete in the 2014 Global Rallycross Championship season.

Rallycross is one of the fastest growing motorsports in the U.S. and it is attracting big crowds at venues across the country. The cars race both each other and the clock for the win, conquering varying terrains and spectacular 70-foot jumps.

Its GRC will be driven by Tanner Foust and ex-Formula One and NASCAR driver Scott Speed as part of the newly formed Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross team, which results from a partnership between VW and Andretti Motorsport.

The all-wheel drive GRC is powered by a 2.0-liter turbo-charged direct injection TSI engine putting out more than 560 hp.

This has to be the ultimate Beetle.

Somehow I think it's going to be a great success, especially as US Beetle fans are now urging VW to build a "damn good street version of it." (Robert Harland)

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on February 26, 2014.


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