Staff Writer - CheersandGears.com
October 23, 2013
Whether it was deserved or not, the previous Beetle earned the dubious title of 'chick car'. It's easy to see how the Beetle earned this title; a bubbly design, flower shaped wheels, and a flower vase. This wasn't helped by the addition of the Beetle Convertible which only reinforced the 'chick car' mantra.. But Volkswagen pulled something short of a miracle with this current Beetle; made it look like the classic Beetle that we know and love without giving it any details that could make it a 'chick car'. Could they pull off the same feat with the new convertible? I spent a week with the 2013 Beetle Convertible Turbo to find out.
The Beetle Convertible Turbo is still a Beetle design-wise, but has been brought into the modern era. Certain elements from the New Beetle are still around in this new model with round headlights and wide fenders. Other than that, the Beetle Convertible really stands out with longer front end, a deck-lid spoiler, D-Shaped headlights, and eighteen-inch alloy wheels.
The Beetle Convertible's interior has been toned down somewhat when compared to the last-generation model. You don't have a funky center stack or a vase where you can stick a flower into. It's more in line with Volkswagen's lineup. That doesn't mean that interior is boring, there are some touches that make the Beetle Convertible special. For starters, you have a two-tone dashboard (Beige and Black in my case) and a separate set of gauges mounted at the top of the dash that gives you the oil temp, turbo boost, and a stopwatch. Materials throughout are mix of hard and soft-touch plastics.
Click images to enlarge
Front seat passengers are firmly held in with very supportive front seats. I was disappointed that for the as-tested price, the Beetle Convertible Turbo doesn't come with power seats. The back seat is just there for show since no one can actually fit there comfortably. The nice thing is that Volkswagen includes a wind deflector that you can install right over the back seat.
For your entertainment, Volkswagen has installed the Fender Audio System in the Beetle convertible. Now I was impressed by the system in the Jetta Hybrid I had back in summer. In the convertible, it impressed even more. With the top down, the Fender system was able to produce a very clear sound. No matter what I threw at the system with the top up or down, the Fender system performed flawlessly.
What I wasn't so impressed by was the optional navigation system. The screen is too small and the touch points on the screen are hard to hit and require you to hit them a couple times for something to happen. I'm wishing that Volkswagen makes the larger touchscreen used on the high-trim Passats available to other models.
For powertrain and driving impressions, see the next page.
Powering the Beetle Convertible Turbo is Volkswagen's veritable 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder. It produces 210 horsepower and 207 pound-feet of torque. You have a choice of either a manual or DSG gearbox, both six-speeds. The engine really gets the Beetle Convertible moving thanks to the 207 pound-feet of torque arriving at 1,700 rpm. At no point was I thinking 'this needs more power', the 2.0T is just enough. Plus, the 2.0T makes a lovely exhaust burble when you have the top down. The DSG is somewhat mixed. In low-speed situations, the DSG acts confused and goes into a herky-jerky mode when changing gears. Put it on a open road and the DSG comes alive with lighting quick shifts.
When building a convertible, there are two problems that need to be solved. The first is excessive wind noise when the top is up and the second is the flexing of the body cause by the roof being removed. In the case of the Beetle Convertible, Volkswagen was able to minimize both to a point. With the wind noise, the convertible's top is comprised of six layers of varying materials (ranging from a fabric used on the exterior layer to an insulating fleece) in a effort to reduce it. I can say that driving around town and on the expressway, the car is quieter than I was expecting. Yes, there is some wind noise that makes its way in, but its not to the point where you need to crank the radio up. As for the body flex, the Beetle Convertible comes with a fair number for reinforcements such as a thicker bar used in the A-Pillars and more sheet metal in the lower body. This makes the Beetle Convertible 20 percent stiffer when compared to the last-generation model. Driving on some rough roads, I wasn't able to feel or notice any flex in body.Beetle Turbo review back in 2012, it doesn't like to be pushed hard. The suspension isn't able to handle being pushed to its limits, becoming somewhat squirrely. Keep it at 5, 6 on the fun to drive scale and you'll do fine.
There is one issue that I need to address with this particular Beetle Convertible Turbo and that is the pricetag. The Beetle Convertible Turbo is Sound/Nav model and as tested costs $33,765. Quite the chunk of change for a small convertible. That of course brings up the question of what else you could buy. Well you can step up to a Chevrolet Camaro or Ford Mustang with their respective V6 engines or you can go down slightly and get a nicely loaded MINI Cooper Convertible or a Roadster. Now if you drop down to Beetle Convertible Turbo w/Sound, you're looking at a price of around $30,000, making this somewhat more compelling.
When the Beetle Convertible Turbo drove away, I watched it and felt a little bit sad about it. Every time I put the top down, put some music on, and drove, I felt happy. This is a vehicle that can make a bad day go away.
Sure there will be those who will call the Beetle Convertible Turbo a 'chick car' still. But with the new design, turbo powerplant, great lengths to the wind noise and strength, and other items help the Beetle Convertible Turbo remove the dubious honor it once held.
Disclaimer: Volkswagen Provided The Beetle Convertible Turbo, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas.
Model: Beetle Convertible
Engine: 2.0L Turbocharged and Intercooled Inline Four-Cylinder
Driveline: Front-Wheel Drive, Six-Speed Dual-Clutch Transmission
Horsepower @ RPM: 210 @ 5,300
Torque @ RPM: 274 @ 3,600
Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 21/29/24
Curb Weight: 3,272 lbs
Location of Manufacture: Pubela, Mexico
Base Price: $32,970.00
As Tested Price: $33,765.00* (Includes $795.00 destination charge)