Volkswagen SA has launched a zippy GTI-powered Beetle, complete with automatically-extending rear-spoiler, in South Africa.

Volkswagen SA has launched a zippy GTI-powered Beetle, complete with automatically-extending rear-spoiler, in South Africa.

The 1.8T, which will retail for R222 180, joins the VWSA lineup alongside existing 2.0 manual and automatic stablemates.

The 1.8T - fitted with same 1,8-litre 20-valve turbocharged engine to be found in the current Golf IV GTI - develops 50 N.m more torque (220 N.m) than its two-litre siblings. An extra 25kW pushes up its output up to 110 kW at 5 800 r/min and Volkswagen SA claims a top speed of 203 km/h and zero to 100 km/h sprint time of 8,7 seconds for the turbo Bug.

The most obvious exterior feature that sets this sporty model apart from its stablemates is the automatically retractable and extendable rear spoiler. Once the Beetle 1.8T reaches a speed in excess of 150 km/h the rear spoiler is extended, or, as the car slows down to a speed of 130 km/h, it retracts automatically.

For those who want the spoiler activated at all times and to show that their New Beetle 1.8T is totally diferent - without having to drive at thoroughly illegal speeds - there is a button under the instrument panel that allows it to be activated manually.

Another external distinguishing feature from the two-litre version are the sportier Route 66 alloy wheels that are fitted.

The 1.8T engine is transversally mounted at the front. Its front section also features power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering with a height and length-adjustable steering column, as well as a McPherson suspension coupled with wishbone-type transverse links.

The 1.8T’s suspension consists of a semi-independent, track-correcting suspension with coil springs and front and rear anti-sway bars. The New Beetle's braking system is equipped with an anti-lock braking system (ABS) and the electronic stability programme (ESP).

The standard package for the 1.8T version also features a "gamma" radio, driver and front passenger airbags, air-conditioning, remote-controlled central locking, fog lights, leather-trimmed steering wheel, gear- and hand-brake levers.