2013 VW Beetle Cabriolet review

  • Convertible version of VW's style-led Beetle
  • 2.0-litre diesel and petrol models driven
  • On sale now, priced from £18,150
Volkswagen Beetle Cabriolet review
Volkswagen Beetle Cabriolet review
The new VW Beetle Cabriolet is aimed straight at those who like their open-air motoring to have an old-school air about it.

It's offered with the same five-engine line-up as the hatch – three petrols and two diesels – and the same Beetle, Design and Sport trims.

Volkswagen will also offer a trio of limited-edition versions, called the 50s, 60s and 70s editions, which come with bespoke styling elements.

What's the 2013 Volkswagen Beetle Cabriolet like to drive?
We've tried all but the 1.6-litre diesel, which means the 1.2, 1.4 and 2.0 TSI petrols, as well as the 2.0-litre diesel.

Our pick of the range is the 103bhp 1.2 TSI. You have to work it quite hard if you want to make swift progress, but it has a sporty soundtrack and is happy to rev hard. More importantly, it's flexible enough that it doesn't feel gutless in normal driving, when it's impressively hushed and picks up smoothly from low revs.

The smooth, free-revving 158bhp 1.4 TSI is also worth considering, because it strikes the right balance between gutsy acceleration and refinement, even at higher speeds. Unfortunately it's not available with a DSG automatic gearbox, but the six-speed manual has a positive shift and a light clutch.

The 2.0 TDI is also smooth and pulls strongly throughout the rev range. However, its CO2 emissions are notably higher than the equivalent Golf Cabriolet's, making it a relatively pricey company car.

Volkswagen Beetle Cabriolet review

Meanwhile, the 2.0 TSI model has a lovely engine note and near-hot hatch pace, but its high price makes it hard to justify given that this is a car intended for more relaxed use. The steering is a good indication of this – on all models it's light and fairly slow to respond, so you'll need lots of arm twirling for big steering inputs in more vigorous driving.

The Beetle Cabriolet is at its best with the small petrol engines up front; they're lighter, which means less weight over the nose and better bump absorption. Nonetheless, neither is brilliantly comfortable. Bigger ruts and potholes make the car shudder and flex noticeably, and it jitters around on rough surfaces. The versions with heavier, more powerful engines only exacerbate this.

Despite the presence of a fabric roof, sound-proofing is good, so the Beetle is a quiet and easy car to use everyday. Protection from wind buffeting is also decent, albeit at the loss of the rear two seats if you have the wind deflector in place.

What's the 2013 Volkswagen Beetle Cabriolet like inside?
While the quirky details from the first-generation modern Beetle are long gone, the latest model still feels pleasingly retro appeal. You can choose to have the upright dashboard in the same colour as the outside of the car, and there are plenty of details to let you know you're in a Beetle.

Volkswagen Beetle Cabriolet review

Drivers of all heights will be able to find a comfortable driving position, although the wheel obstructs some of the dash instruments in certain positions.

While this is a four-seater, passengers will be less comfortable in the back. Legroom is tight, and the large swathe of canvas roof makes it feel slightly claustrophobic.

This large roof also restricts over-the-shoulder visibility, as does the small rear window. That being the case, it's a shame you have to go for top-spec Sport trim or pay £335 to get rear parking sensors.

The boot isn't huge, but at 225 litres it's significantly bigger than the Mini Convertible's, and few will object to living with big but slightly awkward letterbox-like opening in return for the Beetle Cabriolet's chic style.

Volkswagen Beetle Cabriolet review

This large roof also restricts over-the-shoulder visibility, as does the small rear window. It's a shame you have to go for top-spec Sport trim or pay £335 to get parking sensors.

The boot isn't huge, but at 225 litres it's significantly bigger than the Mini Convertible's, and it benefits from a wide and well-shaped opening.

Should I buy one?
The Beetle is reasonable value for money, sitting between the more expensive but roomier Golf Cabriolet (which starts at £21,040) and the more cramped Mini Convertible (priced from £15,960).

So, while the Beetle remains an emotive purchase, it still deals with the critical elements of money and useability. Ultimately, if you like the image then you won't be disappointed with this cheerful, inoffensive soft-top

Read the full Volkswagen Beetle Cabriolet review >>



Rivals:
Mini Convertible
Peugeot 308 CC

What Car? says…


Specification
Engine size 1.2-litre turbocharged petrol
Price from £18,150
Power 103bhp
Torque 130lb ft
0-60mph 11.7 seconds
Top speed 110mph
Fuel economy 46.3mpg
CO2 g/km 142g/km

Specification
Engine size 1.4-litre supercharged and turbocharged petrol
Price from £22,415
Power 158bhp
Torque 177lb ft
0-60mph 8.6 seconds
Top speed 128mph
Fuel economy 41.5mpg
CO2 g/km 158g/km

Specification
Engine size 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol
Price from £24,975
Power 197bhp
Torque 206lb ft
0-60mph 7.6 seconds
Top speed 138mph
Fuel economy 37.7mpg
CO2 g/km 174g/km

Specification
Engine size 2.0-litre diesel
Price from £23,145
Power 148bhp
Torque 236lb ft
0-62mph 9.9 seconds
Top speed 122mph
Fuel economy 55.4mpg
CO2 g/km 134g/km

By Tom Webster and Vicky Parrott

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