Used Volkswagen Beetle Cabriolet 1999 - 2012 review

Category: Convertible

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

Volkswagen Beetle Cabriolet (99 - 12)
  • Volkswagen Beetle Cabriolet (99 - 12)
  • Volkswagen Beetle Cabriolet (99 - 12)
Used Volkswagen Beetle Cabriolet 1999 - 2012 review
Star rating

What's the used Volkswagen Beetle sports like?

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.


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

  • Retro drop-top cruiser - comfortable and packed with safety equipment
  • Too much body roll, expensive
  • no rear legroom and visibility poor with roof up

Ownership cost

What used Volkswagen Beetle sports will I get for my budget?

How much does it cost to run a Volkswagen Beetle sports?

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.

Our recommendations

Which used Volkswagen Beetle sports should I buy?

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.


What alternatives should I consider to a used Volkswagen Beetle sports?