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11 Things I Learned During Lunch With Volkswagen

Motor Trend logo Motor Trend 2/7/2014 Christian Seabaugh

The Beetle is going racing. Before the official announcement yesterday at the Chicago auto show, I had the chance to sit down with Volkswagen, the Andretti Autosport Rallycross team, and newly appointed V-Dub Global Rallycross drivers Tanner Foust and Scott Speed for lunch. While a lot of talk centered on why VW is taking the Beetle rallying (hint: millennials), the Volkswagen folks shared quite a bit of interesting information with us. Here are 11 things I learned during lunch.

11) Tanner Foust and Scott Speed will race VW Polo WRC cars for the first half of the Global Rallycross series, because Andretti Autosport and Volkswagen Motorsport haven't actually built a Beetle GRC yet. The two Beetles shown off in Chicago were essentially production models -- Tanner's Beetle was the SEMA show Super Beetle concept that we tested awhile back, while Scott's was just a stock Beetle GSR. Expect the VW Beetle GRC car to look more like Tanner's Rockstar Energy Beetle, than Scott's 7Up car. MotorTrend Image© Provided by MotorTrend MotorTrend Image

10) The VW Beetle Global Rallycross car sports a 560-hp version of VW's EA888 turbocharged 2.0-liter I-4 under the hood, sending power to all four wheels via a six-speed sequentially shifted gearbox.

a truck cake sitting on top of a car

9) Volkswagen decided to campaign the Beetle in Global Rallycross instead of something like the Golf R because of the history the Beetle has in the U.S., and because the Bug is the car that originally put the company on the map. Plus, the casual race fan is more likely to get excited about a Beetle than they are about something like the Golf R or Polo R. MotorTrend Image© Provided by MotorTrend MotorTrend Image

8) The Beetle R is the closest production Beetle to the Beetle GRC car. Though it isn't yet confirmed, the Beetle R coming to the U.S. is within the realm of possibility.

We got a little off-topic after that…

On diesels and hybrids:

7) Although it's got the Touareg and Jetta Hybrids, and will soon have the E-Golf, VW plans on continuing to focus on offering a variety of diesel models. Though there are no immediate plans, the next VW hybrid will likely be the Passat. MotorTrend Image© Provided by MotorTrend MotorTrend Image

Crossover plans:

6) Volkswagen's immediate priority is developing a three-row midsize crossover, likely the Passat-based CrossBlue Coupe concept. After that, it'll begin work on updating the Tiguan.

Random facts:

5) The VW Touareg is most often cross-shopped with the BMW X5.

4) The Jetta is due for a facelift this year.

2015 Golf/GTI/GTD news:

3) When the Mk VII Golf arrives in the U.S. this summer, the GTI will lead, followed by the regular Golf, then the E-Golf. The European-market Golf Variant will reach the U.S. in early 2015. Sold as the Golf Sportwagen, it'll replace the current Jetta Sportwagen. MotorTrend Image© Provided by MotorTrend MotorTrend Image

2) Volkswagen may badge the next-gen GTI as the Golf GTI here in the U.S. as it does in Europe, so it could serve as a halo vehicle of sorts for the Golf family.

1) Volkswagen is expecting to make a decision on whether or not it's going to bring the diesel-powered Golf GTD to the U.S. in the next couple of months. If you want the GTD in the 'States, fire up your internet machine and let VW know.

Click here for more coverage from the 2014 Chicago Auto Show floor.

Volkswagen Golf GTD MKVII front view© Provided by MotorTrend Volkswagen Golf GTD MKVII front view 2014 Volkswagen Beetle GRC Rally Car Side View© Provided by MotorTrend 2014 Volkswagen Beetle GRC Rally Car Side View

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