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Auto Show:  2011 La Auto Show

2013 Volkswagen Beetle R - LA Auto Show

author photo by Jeffrey Archer November 2011
  • The Beetle R features a turbocharged four-cylinder engine pumped up to around 260 horsepower
  • Upgrades include muscular exterior styling, larger wheels and sporty interior trim
  • While VW still insists it's a concept, we expect the Beetle R to reach dealerships

Although we first saw it in Frankfurt, we're still salivating over the Beetle R Concept that's making its North American debut here at the Los Angeles Auto Show. Featuring upgrades to its exterior, interior, engine and chassis, the Beetle R stands to be a fierce contender in the hot hatch segment - but for now, Volkswagen says it's just a concept.

A series of beefy exterior modifications are among the Beetle R Concept's most exciting features. In addition to a "Serious Grey" color scheme, the concept features wider front and rear fenders that give it a more aggressive look, enlarged front air intakes and handsome 20-inch "Talladega" chrome alloy wheels. Also included are oversized brakes with vented discs that are complimented with distinctive blue calipers.

Inside, Volkswagen says the Beetle R Concept features a host of other racy upgrades, including sport bucket seats upholstered in exclusive Nappa leather, specialized "R" logos throughout the cabin and contrasting colors that give the interior a sporty feel. Volkswagen also says the Beetle R Concept's interior features brushed aluminum pedals and a thick steering wheel with shift paddles.

But while the interior and exterior upgrades are certainly exciting, the Beetle R's real draw is under its hood. That's because the hatchback includes the same hotter version of Volkswagen's familiar 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that's found in the Golf R, meaning it likely produces around 250 horsepower. Of course, the modified Beetle also offers sportier suspension than the standard model and may even include the automaker's adjustable Adaptive Chassis Control system, which allows drivers to change suspension settings with the push of a button.

While Volkswagen calls the Beetle R a concept, we think the muscular hatchback has a future as a production car - especially since Volkswagen is trying to reach out to male buyers with its latest Beetle. If it does make production, expect pricing in the low-$30,000 range and a choice between a standard 6-speed manual and Volkswagen's lightning-quick DSG automatic.

What it means to you: If you can get past the curvy, soft styling and feminine image, the Beetle R may be among the top hot hatches.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2013 Volkswagen Beetle R - LA Auto Show - Autotrader