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Volkswagen’s GRC-bound racer gives new meaning to ‘Super Beetle’

Volkswagen will compete in this year’s season of the Global Rallycross Championship (GRC) with a full-blown supercar masquerading as a heavily-modified Beetle.

While last year’s racer was powered by a 544-horsepower 1.6-liter TSI engine, the 2015 model benefits from a new turbocharged 2.0-liter TSI mill that has been tuned to pump out 553 horsepower at 7,800 rpm and 465 foot-pounds of torque at 5,000 rpm. Mounted ahead of the front axle, the turbo four is bolted to a six-speed sequential gearbox that spins all four wheels via a pair of limited-slip differentials.

The hot-rodded Beetle reaches 60 mph from a stop in two seconds flat, making it noticeably faster than a Bugatti Veyron. It won’t break any top speed records, though, as it maxes out at approximately 125 mph.

2015 Volkswagen Beetle GRC

The extra power is complemented by a completely redesigned suspension system that offers 9.5 inches of travel. The brakes have been thoroughly upgraded as well, with four-piston calipers, 14-inch vented discs up front, and 11.8-inch units out back. Yokohama competition tires mounted on 17-inch alloy wheels keep the hatchback glued to the road.

Related: Volkswagen shows four Beetle-based concepts in New York

More aerodynamic than a stock Beetle, the GRC gains a deep front bumper with an oversized air dam, numerous air vents, race-specific side skirts, an air diffuser out back and a huge spoiler. Interior pictures have not been published yet but Volkswagen says the GRC packs a full roll cage and a pair of Recaro bucket seats made out of carbon fiber.

Beetle number 34 will be driven by Tanner Foust, an experienced pilot who is well-known as the host of the U.S. version of Top Gear. Former Formula 1 and NASCAR pilot Scott Speed will be given car number 77.

The two Volkswagen Beetle GRCs are scheduled to make their track debut on May 31st in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and the season will end on November 4th in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Beetles will face stiff competition from similarly-modified Ford Fiesta STs and Subaru WRX STIs.