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by Tim Beissmann

Volkswagen Australia boss Anke Koeckler says the Volkswagen Beetle R will be near the top of the brand’s wish list if the high-performance concept is confirmed for production.

Koeckler said the local division would “certainly” consider offering the Beetle R if it were made available to our market.

“If it is coming … [it is] on our agenda,” Koeckler said. “We are always passionate about R models.”

The Volkswagen Beetle R concept debuted at the 2011 Frankfurt motor show boasting a sports body kit, 20-inch wheels, racing seats and an engine of undisclosed capacity and performance but rumoured to match the 199kW of the 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo in the Volkswagen Golf R.

So far Volkswagen only offers an R-Line styling package overseas, but Koeckler says she is more interested in introducing a vehicle with the concept’s added performance.

“We haven’t looked into that [R-Line] yet. If there is an R Beetle then probably I would rather go for an R Beetle.”

Koeckler said Volkswagen’s decision to launch the Beetle in Australia with just one engine – the 118kW/240Nm twin-charged 1.4-litre four-cylinder – was intended to reduce complexity for customers and dealers. She said the team had a short discussion about offering a diesel alternative but quickly decided against the idea.

“I wouldn’t say this is for the whole product lifecycle. You can imagine over the product lifecycle maybe to add on one and maybe discontinue the 118TSI, but we haven’t decided yet. For the time being we are just staying with one engine.”

In the UK, the Beetle is available with a range of engines, including the 1.2-litre 77TSI and 2.0-litre 147TSI petrol units, and the 1.6-litre 77TDI and 2.0-litre 103TDI diesels.

Koeckler said the decision to launch with a single-variant line-up meant it would look closely at special editions like the Beetle Fender Edition – due to arrive here in late May – to keep the range fresh.

“This is something we can look into in the future to keep the Beetle alive. It’s always with these certain niche models that once you bring this car in the market there is huge interest and then there’s also a very significant drop.

“In order to avoid it, you bring those specific models to the market in order to keep it for a long time during the product lifecycle.”

Depending on the sales drop-off rate, Koeckler said Volkswagen Australia would look to introduce a new special edition model every one to two years.

She confirmed one special edition that has been presented to Volkswagen Australia is the Beetle GSR that debuted at the Chicago auto show earlier this month.

The yellow and black GSR borrows its 155kW/280Nm turbocharged 2.0-litre engine from the Golf GTI and will be limited to just 3500 units worldwide, with a small right-hand-drive allocation confirmed.

“[The Beetle GSR is] also probably a car we have to look into as it is a performance-oriented car and, you know, Australians love it,” Koeckler said.

One variant that won’t make it to Australia is the Beetle Convertible, with Koeckler believing Volkswagen already has the local market covered with the soft-top Golf Cabriolet and the Eos hardtop.

“As the convertible market in Australia is not that big, I think you would agree that we don’t need three convertibles in our model range.

“Honestly, we think that we are pretty well established with two and we don’t need a third one so we are not going with launching the new Beetle Convertible.”




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