Forty years ago, the sportiest version of the classic Volkswagen Beetle made its debut. Called the GSR (Gelb Schwarzer Renner or “Yellow Black Racer”), it was based on the 1300S and was instantly recognisable by its colour scheme.

Only 3500 were made and they are now collectors' items.

Fast-forward to today at the Chicago auto show as Volkswagen pays tribute to that 1970s' model with the 2014 Beetle GSR. Striking in yellow and black, just like the original, the GSR also debuts an uprated version of VW's two-litre TSI petrol engine that's good for a claimed 156kW.

This engine will also be fitted to the Jetta GLI and Beetle Turbo during the 2013 model year, boosting their power by 7kW.

The body and the special R-Line bumpers on the new GSR are yellow, the bonnet is mostly black, and the bootlid, roof, and the mirror housings are all black.

Yellow and black stripes with GSR lettering above the side skirts and a large rear spoiler complete the look.

Black-painted brake callipers are visible inside 19” 'Tornado' alloy rims shod with 235/40 rubber.

Just like the original, the GSR has a special interior trim with a yellow and black theme, sport seats, and a leather sports steering wheel - although the new GSR is a lot more sophisticated. The black-trimmed leather sport seats and high-grip leather steering wheel have contrasting yellow stitching, plus there's an R-Line dash pad, a special GSR shift lever, a leather handbrake lever, and black floor-mats with contrasting yellow embroidery.

There's also a numbered plaque on the steering wheel to emphasise that only 3500 of the new GSR will be made - and more than half of those are already earmarked for the US market.


Volkswagen say the new engine's 156kW and 280Nm will take the GSR from 0-100 in 6.6 secs and on to an electronically-limited 208km/h flat out, driving through a six-speed manual gearbox, although a dual-clutch DSG six-speed automatic transmission will be an option.

The GSR is based on the US-market Beetle Turbo with Sunroof and Sound model, so it already comes with a Fender premium audio system, a panoramic sunroof, keyless access with push-button start, bi-xenon headlights with LED daytime running lights, LED number-plate lighting, heatable front seats, Bluetooth connectivity, a media port with an iPod cable, three-colour ambient lighting, aluminium-alloy pedals and three auxiliary instruments that include a clock with a stopwatch function and a boost gauge.

The Volkswagen Beetle GSR will go on sale in the US in the third quarter of this year as a 2014 model; whether any of those 3500 will be made in right-had driver and whether any of those will make it to South Africa, remains to be seen.