Let’s face some facts, convertible motoring is the preserve of the Brangelinas of this world, if you don’t have A List Hollywood looks and you drive an open-top car then you should be shot (out of a canon) or worse be pursued by swivel-eyed paparazzo’s. I am a mere mortal and can not face the humiliation of being just too plain ugly to be seen with the hood down so the logical conclusion to draw is that convertibles are for posers for posing in. And posers all over the world have a whole new raison d’être with the VW Beetle convertible.
The Beetle has been around since the Jurassic period, a re-design in 1998 sparked renewed interest, its retro lines weren’t to all tastes and after a brief hiatus in 2010, VW introduced another re-design in 2011. The latest generation Beetle went on sale in the UK in late 2011 and the cabriolet joined the ranks in mid-2013. The Beetle Cabriolet features the same turbocharged engine range found in the coupe version, three petrol engines and two types of diesel and comes with three trim levels. Features such as Air/Con, Dab Radio, remote central locking are standard, extras like Sat/Nav are a cost option.
The Beetle Cabriolet features three special edition models 50’s/60s/ and 70’s Edition which sit on 18-inch alloys, a 400W audio system co-developed with legendary guitar makers, Fender, is also included. That’s all great but what is the Beetle Cabriolet like to live with?. Let’s start with the exterior design, VW says it’s wider, longer, and lower than the previous generation. Visually it works much better than its predecessor ever did, it appeals to both sexes indeed it is probably the first bi-sexual car ever designed.
But the interior disappointed me somewhat, I like the actual interior design, it’s typically Germanic, in your face without being in your face. I like the exposed metal effect finish that harks back to a cost-trimming past, I mean heritage. But the plasticky nature of the majority of surface materials felt cheap and a slight wobble on the center console seemed a bit sloppy by VW standards.
“Let’s face some facts, If you don’t have A-List Hollywood looks and you drive an open-top car then you should be shot or get plastic surgery from Amy Childs”.
Both the Beetle Cabriolet Sport, 2.0 litre, 197bhp, 6 speed DSG and the Beetle Cabriolet 60’s Edition 1.4 TSi, 160bhp six-speed manual version were on offer to test. I seemed to favor the 60’s Edition 1.4 TSi over the beefier 2.0 litre Sport, with less weight to carry all-round the Beetle Cabriolet 60’s Edition felt lighter and sharper to drive. The 1.4 TSi with its 160bhp really needs to be revved hard if you want a speed fix but it felt perfectly apt with just about enough accessible power.
The 2.0 litre Cabriolet Sport didn’t feel that much faster but worryingly had a woeful brake setup, feeling numb to the point of being unresponsive. Obviously, the brakes did respond, I am here telling you about my experience, but not without overly aggressive application of the brake peddle.
The basic ride is fine, however, on less than smooth roads the Beetle Cabriolet displays a tendency to resonate and transmit the undulations of an uneven road surface through the body/chassis at low speed, not so much at higher speeds. Over bumps and ridges you do feel the body structure tremor but this is the typical trade-off you make with convertibles of any make. Will most people notice or even mind?
No, I don’t think so. I didn’t have an issue with the handling, all Beetle cabriolets have rear multi-link suspension, which is the good stuff for handling but why not have the same setup for the front? On a practical side the Beetle cabriolet will seat four but really is ideal for two and the boot space is a useful 310 litre’s with the multi-layered hood up. At around £26k the 60s Edition and Cabriolet Sport are at the top end of Beetle ownership overall it’s a modestly decent drive for what is a living fossil.