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Almighty All-wheeler

Feel the breeze as Volkswagen launches a new Beetle convertible.
by Tom Crosby

The new Volkswagen Beetle convertible gives “bug lovers” another choice in 2013. One of the world’s most popular cars, the Beetle has sold more than 20 million units. The convertible–or cabriolet if you like a fancier word–also has been a popular choice in the past; more than 500,000 sold in two previous Cabrio versions.

Forester

The open road calls to Beetle lovers in the new convertible. ©Volkswagen America photo

This year, VW offers the Beetle in a standard coupe or the third-generation convertible with an automatic folding cloth top that can be dropped in 9.5 seconds.

Convertibles offer three engine choices: a base 2.5-liter (only with automatic transmission); a 2.0-liter Turbo that has the most horsepower (manual or automatic); and our test drive, the top-of-the-line 2.0 Turbo direct injection (TDI) diesel with automatic transmission (manual is an option).

Using the same engines as the VW Golf and Passat, the TDI diesel has the least horsepower of the three available engines, but foot-pounds of turbo-charged torque make it quick off the starting line. It’s a nice feature for the cleaner-burning diesel engine, which can combat higher diesel fuel cost with a highway range in excess of 500 miles.

All 2013 models are wider and longer than the previous New Beetle convertible with an extra 3.3 inches of width, six more inches in length and height dropped an inch, which helps improve aerodynamics. Sleeker looking with a raked windshield that directs wind flow so nicely, the design allows for conversations, even with the top down and wind blocker up.

The TDI sparkles with 18-inch, five-spoke, polished aluminum-alloy wheels. Beetle’s now have the engine in front. Trunk space is small but suitable for a couple of soft overnight bags, and there is a rear seat pass-through to the trunk. Rear seats fold down for extra cargo space, but they do not fold flat. Rear seat access is helped with sliding front seats.

Over/under glove compartments and side door flexible webbing provide nice in-vehicle storage space. Interior gauges and controls are easily read and reached. Navigation detail was lacking in displaying side streets names for orientation purposes, but not a problem when a street name was programmed. The suspension systems provide adequate cushioning for small car.

Using reinforced sheetmetal, two pop-up rollover bars, and thicker A-pillars, the convertible has a strong safety DNA, especially with front and thorax airbags. VW’s Intelligent Crash Response System cuts off fuel, unlocks doors, and switches on hazard lights in certain types of collisions.

Likes: Mileage, occupant comfort, ride, quiet, looks
Dislikes: Navigation detail
Bottom line: Improved design and performance restores love for Beetle Cabrio.

Tom Crosby is a contributor based in Charlotte, N.C.

Jul/Aug 2013 Issue


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