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2013 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible Review By John Heilig

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)
2013 Volkswagen Convertible (Turbo Shown)

The Auto Page
By John Heilig

Model: 2013 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible
Engine: 2.5- liter I5
Horsepower/Torque: 170 hp @ 5,700 rpm/177 lb.-ft. @ 4,250 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
Wheelbase: 100.0 in.
L x WxH: 168.4 x 71.2 x 58.0 in.
Tires: P215/55R17
Cargo: 7.1 cu. ft.
Economy: 21 mpg city/27 mpg highway/26.4 mpg test
Fuel tank: 14.5 gal.
Curb wt. 3,206 lbs.
Sticker: Base price $26,095 (Destination charge: $795 included)

Bottom line: Not only is the Fifties Edition Volkswagen Beetle Convertible pleasing to the eyes, it delivers in ride quality and comfort. Unlike Beetles of the past (excluding the New Beetle) the Beetle Convertible is roomy and a pleasure to drive and ride in.

"Oh, no," my wife said. "We have a Beetle this week? Bummer."

She remembered, obviously not too fondly, our first edition Super Beetle, that was before the curved windshield era and before there was, as a VW representative told me, "not enough room on the dash for a plastic Jesus."

Then we headed out to the driveway, where sat the 2013 Beetle Convertible, Fifties Edition. It was black with a tan top.

"That's nice," the boss said.

Then we got into the car and she was even more enthralled. The same Black and Tan theme was repeated inside, with a black dash and metal trim and tan leather seats.

"Oh, but this is a convertible," she said. "I'm sure it will be cold and noisy."

It isn't. The top's outer shell is made from three layers. The inside is also made from three layers, making the top strong and admitting very little noise or outside temperature.

The Beetle Coupe was a re-interpreted view of the New Beetle. It is wider, has a longer hood, has a more upright windshield that sits further back. There's a standard rear spoiler. The Convertible has a lower roofline that the Coupe.

Well, the Beetle also proved to be an excellent car to ride in, whether you're on a short hop or a longer trip. After a while we both started looking for excuses to take the car out for a spin, reinventing the Day Trip. Unlike my Super Beetle, this Beetle has excellent ride quality. The wheelbase is 100 inches, not long enough to qualify it as a larger car, but it sure drives like a mid-size or larger. We feel nary a bump on our journeys while handling was good. I wouldn't enter the Beetle in a race anywhere, but handling was good enough for normal roads.

We drove the car on winding roads and Philadelphia streets and felt just as confident on all.

Under the hood is a 2.5-liter inline five cylinder, powering the front wheels through a 6–speed automatic transmission - two other differences from the Super Beetle. And while my car didn't get that good mileage, even on my hour and a half one-way commute, we averaged 26.4 mpg overall in the convertible. Just a tick under what the EPA says we would get on the highway.

And that engine is relatively quiet, except on hard acceleration.

The top takes just 10 seconds to lower, which we tried on a not-so-cold day. Here was another surprise. With the windows up and the wind deflector installed behind the front seats, there was almost no wind intrusion into the canon. With the heater on, it was almost warm, which reminded both of us of a dead winter ride in my MGA roadster with the heater on high and both of us under a blanket. The VW won.

Our tester had no exotic audio choices, like XM, but the FM worked well on our longer trips. Nor did we have a navigation system, but it won't needed, and if it had been we could have used our smart phone.

The driver has an instrument panel with three round gauges (tachometer, speedometer, fuel gauge). The's a multi-function display incorporated into the speedometer. Like the original Beetle, this one has two glove boxes; a kaeferfach, or "Beetle bin," with an upward folding lid and a normal glove box beneath, with a downward-folding lid.

Now the bad news. The trunk is small, even if it is bigger than the older VW and even the New Beetle Convertible. There was seating for only two with the wind deflector installed in the back. Even with it in its bag in the trunk, legroom is tight in the rear. It would be better for an owner to consider the Beetle a two-seater and use the back seats for cargo, or luggage for a weekend getaway. However, the interior is very spacious for two people.

My other complaint is with the engine. Response time was poor. If I tromped on the accelerator, hoping to get a quick getaway, I'd have to wait for what seemed an eternity for the engine to wake up. This could be dangerous on some circumstances.

There have been few test cars, though, that have elicited the responses this one did. We had two people at church who had to stop by and ask about the car. And it drew almost universal thumbs up from other motorists. That, and my wife's response, were all worth the price of admission.

(c) 2013 The Auto Page Syndicate