Experienced by Kimatni D. Rawlins
Santa Monica, California — It was a rainy day in Southern California so of course Volkswagen’s big splash in LA during the 2012 Los Angeles Auto Show was a bit hampered. However, we didn’t let a few drops of water and overcast skies overshadow the latest series in the Das Auto Beetle family. Coming in the form of the Convertible, the 3rd generation Beetle platform opens its doors to a new range of enthusiasts looking for open-air serenity in their daily commute.
Beetles are fun loving German cars with an array of congenial characteristics. Based off the new coupe which increased the vehicle’s sales in the men’s department from 28% to 40%, the Beetle is lower, wider, longer, edgier, safer, technologically more savvy and much more fun to drive; especially if you’re behind the wheel of a 2.0-liter Turbo model. Its TSI turbocharged four-cylinder gas engine pumps out 200 horsepower and 207 lb.-ft. of torque starting at 1700 rpm. Either a 6-speed manual or 6-speed DSG dual-clutch automatic transmission is partnered with the turbo engine. Driving up the Pacific Coast Highway was especially fun as we experienced great power — specifically in the mid-range area — and enhanced braking and stability from the sports suspension. The Beetle Convertible Turbo sees almost 25 pounds of boost! Our pepper red model was quite robust with fan-like aluminum-alloy rims centered within 235/45 R18 performance rubber, aluminum-alloy pedals, and a red/black interior combo. So far, the Coupe Turbo has represented 50% of the Beetle mix so expect the same numbers with the Convertible. Starting at $27,795, the Turbo with the $1,100 optional DSG transmission sees an estimated fuel economy of 21 city and 29 highway mpg and 21 city and 30 highway with the manual.
Though the loveable Beetle makes up only a mere 7% of VW’s collection, it is probably the most profound nameplate within the company. Not only is it nostalgic it is just as importantly contemporary. Everyone has a Beetle story and kids still play “Punch Buggy, No Punch Back” when they see the icon on the road. I actually got hit this morning by my 6-year-old daughter when our neighbor scooted by in his yellow Bug. Adding to the mix are another 117,000 2nd generation Beetle Convertible owners who purchased their love from 2003 to 2010. On sale now, it will compete heavily with another industry icon dubbed MINI and a few players from Fiat. Base pricing kicks off from just $24,995 and comes with standard Bluetooth and a rear spoiler.
My partner and I started our drive from Santa Monica to Malibu in the base 2.5-liter inline 5-cylinder engine with 170-horsepower and 177 lb.-ft. of torque. The standard transmission of choice for the 2.5 is the 6-speed automatic. We found this engine a bit loud and a bit slow, yet has good fuel economy of 21 city and 27 hwy mpg. Our model didn’t have the Navigation package so we simply appreciated the joy of the drive along the Pacific Ocean. I liked the expanding map pockets and dual glove compartment.
Yet, what is pretty much unknown to the US, but needs to become widely known is VW’s TDI technology. When positioned with the Beetle, the 2.0-liter Clean Diesel engine carries the vehicle an estimated 28 city/41 hwy mpg with the 6-speed manual and an estimated 28 city/37 hwy miles with the 6-speed DSG dual-clutch automatic transmission. Estimation or not, diesel engines are the future if you’re looking for great mileage and torque heavy power. Plus, the diesel engine wasn’t as loud as the base 2.5 and offers owners 140 horsepower and 236 lb.-ft. of torque.
A premium sound system from Fender, navigation and SiriusXM Satellite Radio can be added to any of the models by way of one of the optional packages: Technology, Sound or Sound and Navigation. I’m also a big fan of the graphics and routing on the nav system. It displays a small Beetle icon cruising through large colorful lanes with simple directional guidance.
There are also three “classic” 50s, 60s, and 70s editions with special trim denoting the era.
Typically a convertible top decreases the size of the cabin and the trunk, but not in this case. The Beetle’s fabric top offers more space in both categories. It is also leaves a flatter roofline than the Coupe. We tried it out a few times and enjoyed the open/close feature when moving up to 31 mph. Also new to the Convertible is a split/fold rear seat for added storage convenience. The fully powered and latchless top opens in 9.5 seconds and closes in 11 seconds. That’s far better than the majority of luxury convertibles on the market. There is a tray in the trunk to carry the windscreen for convenience. And we wouldn’t be talking about a German convertible without standard safety features such as the Automatic Rollover Support System.
The 2013 Beetle Convertible represents another hit vehicle for VW. Especially since it has earned its stripes with the male auto buyer. Sales will continue to climb, owners will continue their funny “Bug” stories and kids will continue to punch lumps on each other’s arms!