What's the used Volkswagen Beetle sports like?
More often than not, the convertible version of a car comes out long after a new model has been launched. But, fun fact, the first Volkswagen was actually a convertible. So, when Volkswagen relaunched its iconic model, which by then had adopted its popularised name of Beetle, it was inevitable that there would be an open-top version. It was certainly expensive when new, but now that it has aged a bit, does a used Volkswagen Beetle Cabriolet make for a good way to enjoy alfresco motoring?
The Beetle Cabriolet is more of a retro homage to the classic Volkswagen and goes up against other four-seat open-top rivals such as the Mini convertible, Fiat 500C and both the Citroën DS3 and DS 3 Cabrio.
Having access to the vast Volkswagen parts bin means the Beetle has a huge range of engines from a smooth if rather slow turbocharged 1.2-litre petrol to a 1.6 or 2.0-litre diesel, or a top-of-the-range 2.0-litre turbo petrol that has a Golf GTI-rivalling 197bhp. The two diesel engines can be a little gruff when accelerating but they're no worse than those of its rivals.
Unfortunately, the Beetle doesn’t quite have the dynamic sparkle that turns it into a sports model. The beefier steering can be a little wearisome on a long drive and doesn’t have the feedback of the best systems. The ride is also a bit on the firm side, but that doesn’t translate into minimal body roll or agile handling because the height of the car means there are plenty of body movements in the bends.
At least the interior is funkier than most Volkswagens thanks to the use of body-coloured plastic trim on the dashboard and door cards. Thankfully, all of the controls are just like they are in other Volkswagens, which means that it’s all logical to use and they have a solid feel to them. Rear head room was never brilliant in the normal Beetle, and this is true of the cabriolet version with the roof up – less so with it down. The boot, however, is even smaller because space has been taken to accommodate the roof when it’s down.