Volkswagen New Beetle RSi Was One Juiced-Up Bug

Right here is the rarest and most expensive Volkswagen at any time designed. It truly is a strange, broad-bodied, and whale-tailed equipment, packed with carbon fiber, aluminum, all-wheel-push, and the initial narrow-angle 3.2-liter V-6 (VR6) accessible in a generation VW. Presenting one thing you forgot about, or possibly by no means knew existed: the New Beetle RSi.

Brendan McAleerVehicle and Driver

Sitting down within the New Beetle, we open up the door to move out and snap a few pictures, and clouds of mosquitoes appear for blood. It’s possible two minutes and at the very least ten bites later on, we scurry back again inside the car or truck. As we start off, there’s a deep fulfillment in seeing insect vampires spattering towards the windshield.

“Kills bugs fast” was a well known print advertisement that starred an Arena Crimson air-cooled Porsche 911 Turbo. Here in Langley, BC, the RSi’s V-6 is on the boil and performing just as superior a task as any Stuttgart-crafted flyswatter.

Next to me in the passenger seat, owner Marcel Horn claps his major paws with each other, racking up the skeeter body count by squashing a couple that have snuck into the cabin. Effectively in excess of six ft tall, Horn is spoiled for headroom with the Beetle’s lofty curved roof, and he gushes around the details scattered all over his RSi’s cabin. He lately imported the vehicle from Tokyo, and you will find some inside don, but while the blemishes will at some point be tackled, Horn’s summer months ideas are to just drive the wheels off this detail.

Brendan McAleerVehicle and Driver

volkswagen new beetle rsi

Brendan McAleerCar or truck and Driver

Doing so can make complete feeling mainly because the RSi is an absolute delight. On paper, the electricity-to-excess weight ratio cannot match VW’s present day R-badged autos, but this juiced-up Beetle has so a lot character.

Underneath the hood, the VR6 punches out 221 horsepower at 6200 rpm and makes a wonderful sounds approaching redline. The mix of a limited-toss, shut-ratio six-speed manual gearbox and 236 pound-toes of torque at 2000 rpm tends to make carrying velocity together these empty country lanes straightforward. Steering is a rapid and correct delight, and the engine responds eagerly to throttle input. It is ein wunderbar käfer.

And then you will find the hilarity of diving into a corner and emotion the massive lateral grip of 235-collection tires in a widebody version of a auto that was offered to the masses with a flower vase perched on the dashboard. When it launched in 2001, the RSi cost the equal of $80,000—enough to acquire two Porsche Boxsters at the time. Only 250 ended up sold, output figures ordinarily suiting a racing homologation particular.

volkswagen new beetle rsi

Brendan McAleerCar and Driver

volkswagen new beetle rsi

Brendan McAleerVehicle and Driver

Proven as a thought at Detroit’s North American International Automobile Display in 1999, the RSi injected some sporting intent into the New Beetle’s image. The New Beetle was marketing very well already—VW shifted much more than 84,000 New Beetles in the U.S. in 1999—and a turbocharged design was on the way. These days, numerous Volkswagen traditionalists check out the New Beetle with gentle disdain, but it was sweet, practical, and no extra complicated to are living with than a present-day Golfing.

These characteristics ended up no surprise because, underneath, the New Beetle was a Golfing. Stretching a Beetle-shaped frock above a Golf-sized mannequin did weird points to the New Beetle’s interior ergonomics, but for the most portion, the community beloved it. They also loved the RSi idea and clamored for it to be built.

Then once more, the community is usually clamoring for ideas to be constructed, but automakers are (correctly) normally far more involved with building automobiles they can basically sell. In the early 2000s, however, self-assurance degrees in VW boardrooms were being at an all-time superior. The conclusion had not long ago been built to go forward with the environment-beating Bugatti Veyron undertaking. Volkswagen certainly could spend a few Euros to construct an über-Beetle.

volkswagen new beetle rsi

Brendan McAleerVehicle and Driver

volkswagen new beetle rsi

Brendan McAleerAuto and Driver

The production RSi was essentially a street-heading edition of the racecars utilised in the New Beetle Cup a person-marque collection. The fingerprints of Volkswagen’s motorsport division can be discovered all over the auto, from the fastened-back again carbon-fiber bucket seats to the aluminum window cranks. Goodbye bud vase, hello there LED change light-weight. VW made use of the opportunity to start the new 3.2-liter model of its 24-valve V-6 engine, which later on showed up in the U.S. market place in the R32 Golf and the Audi TT.

All 250 illustrations of the RSi ended up crafted in Volkswagen’s manufacturing unit in Puebla, Mexico. The line was independent from the common New Beetle generation line (and from the assembly line for the air-cooled first Beetle, which was designed in Mexico right until 2003). Mainly because the RSi was the factory’s flagship, a substantial amount of care went into its assembly. The vehicle has a bespoke good quality compared with that of any other production VW.

volkswagen new beetle rsi

Brendan McAleerCar or truck and Driver

volkswagen new beetle rsi

Brendan McAleerCar and Driver

Each and every a person of the 250 cars and trucks was silver, although one particular extra distinctive blue auto was created for then CEO Ferdinand Piëch. The product was never ever bought in the U.S. or Canada but was presented in Europe, Mexico, Japan, and other abroad markets among 2001 and 2003.

That RSi range 160/250 should obtain its way to the west coastline of Canada is a homecoming of types. Horn is the founder of HPA Motorsports, a Volkswagen tuner with a few many years of practical experience creating Beetles fly. In 1998, when VW was planning its RSi notion, Horn was building his seventh VR6-swapped New Beetle. When the RSi came out, his organization designed a twin-turbo package that boosted output to effectively about 400 horsepower at the wheels.

HPA built five turbocharged RSi New Beetles, as properly as a variety of related autos built making use of U.S.-spec chassis as a basis. Many thanks to market connections, Horn was in a position to take a look at the Puebla manufacturing facility while the RSi was currently being created there, and struck a deal to invest in up components immediately after the generation run finished. Canada’s 15-12 months grey-sector importation guidelines meant that the RSi has been legal in this article for a long time, but the car’s rarity tends to make it hard to uncover. When this one showed up in Japan, Horn acquired it promptly.

The temptation is there to twin-turbocharge the car or truck, as it’s what HPA does ideal. At SEMA in 2019, as a ship-off to the last generation of VW Beetle, HPA introduced a Beetle Dune with a twin-turbo 3.2-liter VR6 that put out 700 horsepower and despatched 800 pound-ft of torque to all four wheels.

But the RSi is a lot more than rapid ample as it stands, and you will find a nostalgia for the condition and the seem. It truly is a vehicle from a time when the world-wide-web was in its infancy, smartphones failed to exist, and Volkswagen was an ascending juggernaut functioning towards getting the biggest automaker in the world.

This blister-fendered and box-winged Volkswagen is bursting with hubris its 6-cylinder motor snarls via dual exhaust ideas. The New Beetle RSi can make a strange and exceptional desire car, but it is a desire car nevertheless. No manufacturing unit Beetle at any time killed bugs quicker.

volkswagen new beetle rsi

Brendan McAleerCar or truck and Driver