Evoking the memory of the classic Mini John Cooper Works Rally, this 544bhp Beetle is similarly a wolf in sheep’s clothing. The Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross team, run by Michael Andretti, will be using this powerful beast in the Red Bull Global Rallycross Championship (GRC) when they switch from the current Polo models to the new Beetle GRC.
The annual event travels across Barbados, Florida and California among other US states from May to November 2014.
One of Team Andretti’s drivers, the aptly named Scott Speed, made 2 parade laps in the tweaked Beetle at the recent Washington leg of the current season’s rallycross, following its earlier unveiling at the Chicago Auto Show. To date, Speed and his fellow teammate Tanner Foust (why isn’t that surname Fast?) have chalked up 2 wins in the VW Polos.
The powerful Beetle is a 4-cylinder, 1.6-litre TSI turbo engined ride; it features a fixed ratio all-wheel-drive system and 6-speed sequential transmission producing a 0-60mph of just 2.1 seconds.
The No. 34 Rockstar Energy Drink Beetle has been specifically created and put together for the rallycross competition, which they hope will give it an edge over the team’s current Polos. It features 9.1 inches of suspension travel with ZF dampers, which should allow the VW racecar to cope with the off-road sections admirably.
Ignoring the branding, the most striking thing about this Beetle is not the view from the front, but the view from behind, with a giant rear wing and large classic Beetle-style cooling vents in the rear bonnet – which kind of give a hint of the power this car is expected to put out.
The Beetle is 71.7 inches wide compared to the standard Beetle’s 68 inches. And with all four wheels planted firmly in each corner, this extra width should give the team some pretty comfortable stability – you can see why I compared it to the equally well balanced Mini Cooper rally car in it’s hey-day.
The new Beetle has always appealed to a more feminine market, whereas the original classic remains quite neutral, in part thanks to some similar styling and power modifications (at the hands of Empi) that gave it a more masculine appeal that has endured to this day.
So it will be interesting to see how much of the technology in this very specific rallycross race car trickles down into the every-day Beetle we are so used to seeing on the roads and how this might go on to affect its perception with consumers.
images: worldcarfans.com, autoweek.com, racer.com, cardekho.com
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