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Blown Beetle adds techno to retro

Cutie pie packs punch: Turbo engine, alloy wheels, foglights and a roof spoiler give this New Beetle attitude.

Volkswagen has warmed over its New Beetle with the addition of a turbo engine

14 Sep 2001

VOLKSWAGEN has added some spice to its cute New Beetle range with the introduction of a turbo-powered model.

Aimed squarely at the top end of the hot hatch market, the New Beetle Turbo hits the showroom floor at $39,500 for the five-speed manual and $41,500 for the four-speed automatic.

The Mexican-built New Beetle shares its platform - the A-platform - with its Golf/Bora stablemates and the Audi A3. It now also shares the turbocharged 1.8-litre five-valve four-cylinder engine that is widely used across the Volkswagen-Audi Group, finding a home in the Golf GTi, Passat 1.8T, A3 1.8T and A4 1.8T.

The Beetle Turbo manual is the cheapest of this entire turbo family.

The force-fed engine produces the same numbers in the New Beetle installation as it does in other applications, 110kW of power and 210Nm of torque - up from the base 2.0-litre engine's 85kW and 170Nm.

Kerb weight has only gone up by just 13kg (11kg in the auto), so the performance bar has definitely been raised over the cooking version.

In manual form the New Beetle Turbo delivers a 0-100km/h time of 9.0 seconds and a top speed of 203km/h, while with the optional auto the time increases to 9.8 seconds and the top speed drops to 199km/h.

The extra punch of the turbo engine has prompted Volkswagen to fit ESP (Electronic Stability Program) as standard. The system is the same as in the Bora V6 4Motion, in that it works in conjunction with the anti-lock brakes (ABS), electronic diff lock (EDL) and traction control (ASR) operations.

Cruise control and an alarm with internal sensors are also part of the equipment package over and above standard New Beetle fare.

Externally, the new model is distinguished by 16-inch "Rave" alloy wheels fitted with 205/55 Michelin Pilot HX tyres, foglights mounted in the bumper air intake and a small roof spoiler.

The spoiler is automatically raised at a pre-determined speed, although there is a separate button to activate it at any time.

On the inside, the seats have been trimmed in leather, which also extends to the steering wheel and handbrake lever grip. The front seats are now heated as well.

The plastic gerbera flower can still be found in the retro dashboard vase and has not, as Volkswagen put it, been replaced with poison ivy - in keeping with the "wilder" nature of the turbo engine.

Volkswagen Australia is hoping the turbo model will boost New Beetle sales by around 40 units per month. At that rate is may be able to challenge Chrysler's PT Cruiser for the retro crown, as this year to date the New Beetle has averaged 73 units each month while the PT Cruiser has moved just under 100 units.

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