2015 Volkswagen Beetle GRC
After finishing second in the manufacturers championship, the Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross crew is gearing up for 2015 with two updated Beetles that boast more-powerful 2.0-liter engines, a 0-to-60 time of two seconds flat, and the potential to take the fight to the current reigning champs from Ford. Based on the third-generation Beetle, these cars debuted in the final races of 2014, and are slated to run a full season this year.
Behind the wheel will be Scott Speed, who saw victory three times last year, earning him an overall third place finish in the championship. Beyond rallycross, Speed has experience in Formula 1 (2006 and 2007) and NASCAR (2008 and 2013). Joining him will be Tanner Foust, who managed to clinch the championship title in 2011 and 2012, with a runner-up finish in 2013.
“We are very much looking forward to the start of the GRC season with the Beetle,” said Jost Capito, Volkswagen Motorsport Director, in a press release. “The 2015 Beetle GRC has been further developed, based on all our experience we gained with the brand new Beetle last year. We are looking forward to a serious title challenge with Scott Speed and Tanner Foust in 2015 and we are sure that the Beetles will be real fan favorites again.”
The updates are all positive, and both drivers have huge experience, bringing the talent to wring every last bit of performance from these highly capable machines. But will it be enough to topple Ford?
Continue reading to learn more about the 2015 Volkswagen Beetle GRC.
2015 Volkswagen Beetle GRC
Horsepower @ RPM:553
Torque @ RPM:465
0-60 time:2 sec.
Top Speed:125 mph (Est.)
Aesthetically speaking, this racer is obviously a Beetle. But be careful – the word “cute” isn’t quite appropriate here. This thing might be a Beetle, but it’s been hitting the gym with a vengeance and taking all the steroids, which are legal here, thank goodness. It has a widebody kit that plumps those fenders considerably, blessing the Beetle with a 71.7-inch width that should improve both traction and stability when attacking the multiple surfaces of the GRC. That’s roughly half an inch more than the standard model Beetle, and right in line with last year’s rallycross racer.
This thing might be a Beetle, but it’s been hitting the gym with a vengeance and taking all the steroids.
This machine is also longer than the standard VW, with an overall length of 168.8 inches. That’s 0.4 inch more than you get with the street car, the same as last year’s race car. Curb weight, however has increased, due to the GRC’s new rules regarding weight equalization for smaller engines. This brings homologation closer to the specs set forth in the FIA World Rallycross series, adding nearly 200 pounds. That means this car weighs 2,866 pounds, a mere 20 pounds less than the stock car. While substantially heavier, the Beetle also has significant gains in the drivetrain to make up for the extra mass.
The exterior also has big aero enhancements, seen most noticeably in the back where a two-tier spoiler is attached off the rear glass to pin the Beetle down at speed. Aggressive vents and intakes are present in the hood and rear wheel arches, not to mention between the taillights on the hatch, undoubtedly to keep the brakes, engine, and intercooler from the heat.
Don’t expect the blank-slate-white paint to remain untouched by the time this thing hits the track – all the sponsors should fill the empty space with copious eye-catching colors and design schemes.
Detailed shots of the car’s interior have yet to be revealed, but that’s most likely because all you’ll find is the typical competition-ready equipment seen in all professional race machines. That means all superfluous items have been gutted, including carpets and in-car entertainment, replaced by a complex, expertly welded steel roll cage, rigid-back bucket seats mounted low in the cabin, a small-diameter steering wheel, and a large hand brake to instantly lock up the rear. There’s also probably a carbon-fiber dash, digital instrumentation, and ventilation to keep the driver fresh lap after lap.
The biggest news for the drivetrain is an update to the turbocharged and intercooled TSI four-cylinder engine, which sees an increase in both displacement and output. The new rule changes regarding weight equalization prompted the Beetle team to toss the old 1.6-liter powerplant in favor of a new 2.0-liter unit that creates 553 horsepower and 465 pound-feet of torque, a considerable gain over the outgoing 1.6’s 544 horsepower and 387 pound-feet.
The new rule changes regarding weight equalization prompted the Beetle team to toss the old 1.6-liter powerplant in favor of a new 2.0-liter unit that creates 553 horsepower and 465 pound-feet of torque.
Don’t bother with the calculator – that’s nine more horsepower and a massive 78 pound-foot gain. According to a press release, “Volkswagen believes that the extra torque of the larger engine will be important for standing start performance, which is a key element in Global Rallycross racing, as well as acceleration from slow corners.” Indeed.
All that extra muscle will purportedly maintain the car’s lightning-fast 0-to-60 time, hitting the magic number in just two seconds flat. That’s the same performance as last year’s car, made more impressive with the 200 pounds of additional weight.
Part of that blistering acceleration is how the power reaches the ground. Like last year, the new Beetle GRC uses a fixed-ratio AWD system with a multiplate limited-slip differential in the front and rear. Feeding this is a sequential six-speed transmission.
To handle the corners and abusive aerials, the Beetle uses all-around strut-type suspension. ZF was called upon for its dampers, which offer roughly 9.5 inches of travel to soak up all those hard landings. Dropping anchor are vented disc brakes, measured at 14 inches in diameter at the front and 11.8 inches in diameter at the back. Four-piston aluminum calipers can be found at each corner hidden behind the 17-inch wheels. The tires are competition-spec rubber from Yokohama, measuring 240/640R17.
|Type||2.0-liter TSI engine|
|0 to 60 mph||2.0 seconds|
When looking at the history of the GRC, it’s obvious that Olsbergs MSE is the team to beat. Hailing from Sweden, this crew has taken championship gold every year since the series’ inaugural season in 2011. Tanner Foust was at the helm for the first two years, with Toomas Heikkinen winning in 2013 and Joni Wilman winning in 2014. This super Ford sports a turbo 2.0-liter Duratec-HE four-cylinder engine with a specialized Olsbergs MD head. Output is rated at nearly 600 horsepower and 620 pound-feet of torque. A permanent AWD system routes that to the ground through three LSDs, yielding a competitive 0-to-60 of two seconds dead.
Read our full review here.
With a new engine, a former GRC champion and an F1 driver behind the wheel, this uber-Beetle looks like it has all the right stuff to perform well in the 2015 season. The extra weight might cause a few hiccups, but shouldn’t have too much impact on performance in the long run. The problems come in the form of the blue ovals under the guidance of Olsbergs MSE. Ford has dominated from the outset, and certainly doesn’t appear to be resting on its laurels. But anything can happen in motorsport, especially with something as vicious and unpredictable as rallycross.
How will the Beetle perform? We’ll find out late next month, when the GRC heads to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, for the first race of the season, scheduled for May 31. There are 12 races on the docket, including a few double-headers, with additional venues in Detroit, Washington DC, Los Angeles, Barbados and Las Vegas. Tune into the NBC for post-event broadcasts.