This is no ordinary Beetle. This is a 543bhp, 570Nm, super Beetle that’s just achieved a staggering speed of 205.122mph (330.1kph) at the famed Bonneville Salt Flats in Wendover, Utah. Dubbed Beetle LSR, where the latter bit stands for Land Speed Record, has the same 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine block as a regular Beetle Turbo R-Line, but here it’s been modified heavily by California-based THR Manufacturing, who bolted new turbochargers onto it, along with tweaks to the pistons, camshafts, connecting rods, and the head.
The suspension was also lowered, a limited-slip differential added for extra traction, and special Salt Flat wheels and tyres fitted. Meanwhile, the interior was stripped and equipped with an entire gamut of safety equipment, such as a rollcage, racing seat and harness, and a fire suppression system. And is the norm with all land speed record attempting vehicles, the Beetle, driven by automotive writer Preston Lerner, was fitted with a pair of parachutes to aid the slowing down process. All these changes were made while adhering to Southern California Timing Association (SCTA) rules that control how much the car can be modified and still be eligible to be recognised as a Beetle.
“We are completely thrilled with the Beetle LSR’s performance at Bonneville,” says Dr. Hendrik Muth, senior vice president, Product Marketing and Strategy, Volkswagen of America. “The Beetle is not the most aerodynamic car in our portfolio, so running 205mph is a testament to the power that can be made from the EA888 TSI four-cylinder engine. This feat truly underscores the sporty and pugnacious spirit of the Beetle.”
To put the magnitude of the feat and the hike in performance of the world’s fastest Beetle into context, the EA888 turbo mill makes 210bhp and 281Nm of torque and reaches a limited maximum speed of 209kph in the stock Beetle R-Line.