VW Beetle powers in to New York with R-Line, Denim and more special Bugs | CAR Magazine

VW Beetle powers in to New York with R-Line, Denim and more special Bugs

Published: 01 April 2015 Updated: 01 April 2015

► Beetle muscles up with new R-Line
► GTI-spec 217bhp for Concept R-Line
► Cuddlier Bugs too – including denim one! 

Volkswagen has history with showing Beetle concepts in the US – and the 2015 New York International Auto Show is no different, with four new Bug show cars. Why the US focus? Because the Beetle sells more in the US than the whole of Europe combined, said VW’s American chief Michael Horn.

Of most interest to us is the VW Beetle Concept R-Line, smuggling the Golf GTI’s 217bhp four-cylinder turbo into the cutesier coupe bodyshell.

This powertrain is already available on the Beetle in UK showrooms – but what’s of interest is the styling package around it. It’s an attempt to give the Bug a more sporting demeanour and it’s coming to showrooms in 2016.

So what is new on the VW Beetle Concept R-Line?

Look at the bodywork. It’s subtly wider than on today’s Beetle, the black-gloss wheelarches swelling by 14mm over the regular hatch. It rolls on chunky 20in Monterey alloy wheels, there are R-spec twin exhausts and a more pronounced spoiler out back, plus a bespoke front bumper perforated with additional air intakes.

Inside the R-Line lies a pair of sports bucket seats and lashings of what VW is calling ‘leather-carbon look’. Sounds like a bad German translation to us – we’ll be checking it out at the show this week.

Executives in New York told CAR that no R derivative was forthoming (‘the market is just too small,’ said one), but that there was a desire to add an R-Design styling pack, available on a variety of different engines to let people get a sporty look.

VW gets touchy-feely at New York: new Beetle Denim, Wave and Pink special editions

A further trio of highly stylised ‘near-production’ Beetle concepts was rolled out in the Big Apple tonight. And our sources suggest two of them will make production in barely changed form.

‘Concept cars like the Beetle Dune – presented in 2014 at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit – demonstrate how Volkswagen can create production models from such ideas very rapidly,’ the company says. ‘The “Dune” with its elevated body will launch on the market in early 2016.’

It’s all part of the planned mid-life pep-up for the Beetle; design chief Klaus Bischoff told CAR it was a tricky car to facelift, and was in line to receive merely revised bumpers, new wheels and fresh colours. Plus, it seems, two of the three specials shown in New York.

VW Beetle Cabriolet Denim

The Beetle Denim

This one does what it says on the tin, really. ‘Stonewashed’ blue paint, a denim look fabric roof and blue materials abound inside. Wolfsburg has form here, with the original Jeans Bug appearing in the mid-1970s and others in the ’80s. We expect this one to go into production, as clues are being dropped left, right and centre in New York and we hear it’s due in 2016. Sadly, no actual denim is used in this one, unlike in its forefathers of three decades ago… 

Beetle Cabriolet Wave

The Wave edition. Perfect for Santa Monica?

‘Pays tribute to summertime along the American coast.’ Hence the sun-kissed Habanero Orange metallic paint, 19in alloys and retro 1950s ‘houndstooth’ fabric trim. This Beetle has no production green light yet.

Beetle Pink Edition

Ghastly or spot-on? Pink Edition of Bug doesn't beat around the bush

Another Ronseal Bug, this one premieres Fuchsine Metallic pink – a hue designed to undo years of good work broadening the appeal of the Beetle to those who don’t like driving around with a plastic flower strapped to their dashboard. Bischoff said it was not an idea that started in the design team. ‘At first we said, “no, that’s too girly,” but then we looked into it and we have done it. It works remarkably well. Why not? A lot of our customers are women…’

By Tim Pollard

Group digital editorial director, car news magnet, crafter of words