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What Car? says

3 out of 5 stars

For Retro drop-top cruiser - comfortable and packed with safety equipment

Against Too much body roll, expensive, no rear legroom and visibility poor with roof up

Verdict You'll stand out, and under the skin it's a Golf - but it has a Golf's problems

Go for… The 1.6

Avoid… The 1.4

Volkswagen Beetle Cabriolet
  • 1. Always check the roof mechanism, and the general condition of the fabric
  • 2. Clutch may need replacing at 40,000 miles
  • 3. Fashionable interior is funky, but not so practical
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Volkswagen Beetle Cabriolet full review with expert trade views

It might look like the Beetle of old, but underneath this latest incarnation is really a Golf. And, that means you can forget the budget build quality of the original - this new Beetle may hark back to the first version, but it's also well made.

Better still, despite losing its roof, the Beetle's body is still nice and stiff, which helps to prevents scuttle shake and allows the soft suspension to give a supple ride. However, the price you pay for this is limited road-holding and excessive body roll through bends.

You also suffer from a lack of practicality, as you do with many funky and fashionable things. You get the wind in your hair, but room in the back and boot space are compromised.

Parking can be a problem, too. From the driver's seat, it's difficult to see the nose over the enormous dash. And, the cute rounded looks of the body do nothing for over-the-shoulder visibility: it's hard to get a good view whether the hood is up or down.

Trade view

John Owen

Always in good demand, but avoid base models with no spec

John Owen
Buyer,
Fords of Winsford

Originally, the Beetle had 1.6- and 2.0-litre petrol engines, soon joined by a 1.4-litre petrol and a 1.9-litre diesel option. A 1.8 turbocharged petrol engine came along later.

Sadly, although it's topless, this is one heavy Beetle, so the 1.4 is just too feeble to cope. The 1.6 is probably the best all-round choice, because it's cheap and doesn't show up the limitations of the car's handling.

The other engines aren't worth bothering with, but, for the record, the 2.0 uses the engine from the Mk 4 Golf GTI, making a faster cruiser, and the 1.9 TDI diesel option is frugal, but more expensive to buy. The 1.8T brings almost pointless performance, with a 0-60mph time of less than 10 seconds.

No matter which engine you go for, all cars have a high level of safety kit as standard, but basic models come with a lower specification than you might imagine, including a manually operated hood.

All others have an electric roof, and generally it's worth seeking out the higher-specification models. And, if you can, go for a model from after 2006, when the range range was revised and given a mild face-lift.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Remains a strong seller especially Convertible and diesels

James Ruppert
Used car guru

The Beetle will cost you only a bit more to run than a Golf, so it shouldn't scare you off. Strong resale values keep used car prices up, but then that's the same of other cars in this sector including the Mini Convertible.

Fuel economy isn't scary with the petrol engines and ranges from 39.2mpg through to 34mpg on the 1.8 turbo. The 1.9 diesels manage 50.4mpg.

Insurance on smaller-engined models is group 7 and group 9, but if you go for one of the larger engines, that can jump as high as group 15. For us, the 1.6-litre has the best balance of fuel economy and lower insurance.

Being a VW, servicing costs and spares can be slightly higher than rivals, but sticking to independent workshops will make reasonable savings.

Trade view

John Owen

Always in good demand, but avoid base models with no spec

John Owen
Buyer,
Fords of Winsford

On the whole, VWs are reliable, but this generation of Golf (which forms the basis of the Beetle) is not the greatest. Mind you, Beetle owners tend to complain of niggling problems, rather than massive issues.

Some Cabriolets suffer from rattling and vibrating windows on uneven roads and the boot can be difficult to close, causing a dent to appear as a result in the centre of the boot lid.

On top of that, the Beetle is prone to the same issues that affect the Golf. Clutches may need replacing at 40,000 miles and the 1.8T suffers from ignition coil failure.

Being a convertible, you should always check the roof mechanism, and the general condition of the fabric. Repairs and replacements are expensive.

There have been two recalls on the Beetle, one concerning the fuel pump, and the other the anti-lock braking system that can lead to fire damage. Make sure they've both been done.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Remains a strong seller especially Convertible and diesels

James Ruppert
Used car guru
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