The most extreme Volkswagen Beetle ever has been revealed at the Chicago motor show.
The all-wheel-drive competition car will compete in the Global Rallycross Championship (GRC) later this year, and will make its debut at the Summer X Games extreme sports event in Austin, Texas, in June.
Volkswagen hasn’t revealed full technical details of the Beetle, beyond saying that it produces more than 560bhp from a turbocharged and direct-injection TSI engine of an unspecified capacity.
By comparison, the most powerful roadgoing variant is the Beetle GSR, which uses the underpinnings of the Volkswagen Golf GTI and produces 207bhp and 206lb ft.
However, marque specialists VWVortex produced the Volkswagen VWVortex 'Super Beetle' last year, splicing a Golf R's four-wheel-drive running gear with a Beetle's body and extracting 500bhp from the 2.0-litre, four-cylinder EA888 engine. The new rallycross car also bears 'Super Beetle' branding, although no official link with the VWVortex project has been confirmed.
The new Beetle could also draw technical inspiration from the Volkswagen Polo R rallycross machine built for Carlos Sainz for last year's Barcelona X-Games competition, an event that was eventually cancelled.
That car produced about 550bhp and 627lb ft, hitting 60mph from a standstill in about two seconds.
Volkswagen has joined forces with Andretti Autosport, run by ex-F1 and Indycar racer Michael Andretti, to run the machine in the GRC. The team will field two cars for drivers Tanner Foust and Scott Speed.
Foust will compete in the colours of Rockstar energy drink, while Speed’s machine will bear 7-Up sponsorship.
The team will initially compete this season with modified Volkswagen Polo rally cars, derived from the machines that dominated last year’s World Rally Championship, before switching to the Beetle in the middle of the year. The Global Rallycross Championship kicks off in Barbados in May.
The German manufacturer is currently celebrating 65 years since the original Beetle, or Type-1, arrived in the USA. Since then, more than 5.5 million Beetles have been sold in the USA across the three generations that have been made.
It’s not the first time the Volkswagen Beetle has been transformed into a competition car. John Button, the late father of Formula 1 star Jenson, was one of several drivers to campaign a Beetle Mk1 in the British and European rallycross championships in the 1970s.