The original Volkswagen Beetle was always surprisingly quick, for a diminutive two-door with a sub-100-horsepower engine — 60 mph to 70 mph. The New Beetle, which arrived in the late 1990s, dramatically upped that, to around 130 mph from a modern four-cylinder motor that lived under the front hood and was liquid-cooled, not chilled by air like its grandfather.
But who knew that the Beetle had so much more to give, speed-wise?
On Monday, VW revealed a stunning milestone in a statement:
Volkswagen of America, Inc., … announced that its specially tuned Volkswagen Beetle LSR, powered by a 2.0-litre turbocharged, direct-injection four-cylinder TSI gasoline engine, has achieved 205.122 mph over a flying mile — the fastest speed ever recorded for a Beetle. The car was driven by Automobile magazine contributing Editor Preston Lerner on the famed Bonneville Salt Flats in Wendover, Utah, at the Utah Salt Flats Racing Association (USFRA) 2016 World of Speed event.
The Bonneville Salt Flats is a legendary land-speed landscape. The surface is starkly uniform and vast, providing correctly equipped cars with an ideal canvas for painting a legacy in velocity.
It was, of course, no ordinary Beetle.
“The suspension was lowered, special Salt Flat wheels and tires fitted, a limited-slip differential added to aid traction, and the interior was stripped and outfitted with full safety equipment, such as a rollcage, racing seat and harness, and a fire suppression system,” VW said in a statement. “Plus, to help slow the car down, the Beetle was fitted with a pair of parachutes.”
You won’t be able to threaten 200 miles per hour, but you can buy an R-Line Beetle for about $26,000, outfitted with a 210-horsepower engine that will get you to an electronically restricted 130 mph and rocket you from 0 to 60 mph in 6.6 seconds, according to VW.
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