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2014 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible Review by John Heilig +VIDEO

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2014 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible

By John Heilig

…the 2014 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible is a joy to drive.

Reviewed Model: 2014 Volkswagen Convertible R-Line
Engine: 2.0-liter turbocharged 4
Horsepower/Torque: 210 hp @ 5,300 rpm/207 lb.-ft. @ 1,700 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
Wheelbase: 100.0 in.
Length x Width x Height: 168.0 x 71.2 x 58.0 in.
Tires: P235/40R19
Cargo: 7.1 cu. ft.
Economy: 23 mpg city/ 31 mpg highway/25.1 mpg test
Fuel capacity: 14.5 gal.
Curb Weight: 3,278 lbs.
Sticker: $34,615 (includes $820 delivery)

The Bottom Line: The Beetle Convertible is a fun car. It isn’t very practical; it’s more like a 2+2 sports car. But put the top down in nice weather and two adults and two kids can have a ball.

The cars that taught me that automobiles can be more than just transportation were a pair of MGAs I owned in the early 1960s. Today, the British sports car has been rightfully supplanted by the Mazda Miata. But I suggest there may be another.

OK, the Volkswagen Beetle may have four seats (really 2 + 2) and a true sports car has only two. But, like their ancient British (and modern Japanese) counterparts, dropping the top on the Beetle transforms it from a small sedan with a poor excuse for a trunk and a back seat into a FUN CAR.

Take this example. We had our granddaughters for a couple of hours and asked if they wanted to go for a ride. Since their other grandparents once owned a Beetle Convertible, they jumped at the chance. In reality it was their idea in the first place. We installed the booster seats, put the top down and set off.

We drove on one of my favorite hills while the girls screamed in glee and my wife and I had ear-to-ear grins. Then it was down past the golf course and eventually onto the Interstate for a quick ride to town and their neighborhood where their friends, sadly, were nowhere to be seen. But we had fun.

Later trips in the Beetle were more mundane, and the lack of cargo space became a problem a couple of times. But we dropped the top and loaded stuff in the back seat. When I drove back to the golf course, I put my clubs in the front seat. In fairness to the Beetle, a significant portion of the 7.1 cubic feet of trunk was taken up by the tonneau that covers the top when it’s down if you want to look spiffy. We didn’t use it.

Those front seats look great. They are blue and grey and offer very good side support. I would guess that the R-Line spec, with the turbocharged engine, is the reason for the great seats. I’m not sure about the rear seats. They are more bench-like. Access is difficult, and my granddaughters climbed over the side of the car to get to their seats.

The good news is that with the soft top up, the Beetle is as solid as a sedan. The bad news is that it’s hard to use the shifter or hand brake if there is something in the cupholders.

Parking is easy because of its diminutive size. There wasn’t a spot we couldn’t fit into.

Performance is very good with the turbo four. The 2.0-liter engine is rated at 210 horsepower, which is plenty for a fairly light car. Handling could have been better, but it wasn’t bad. After all, it is still a Beetle.

I liked the clear dash/instrument panel and the interesting audio readout. The central analog speedometer has a digital speedometer inset. It is possible to choose among a variety of menu items for the central information panel, but we chose the digital speedometer. There is a smaller tachometer to the left and a large fuel gauge to the right. Above the dash in the center is a nacelle with gauges for oil temperature, an analog/digital clock and turbo boost.

Creature comforts include a small arm rest between the two front seats, a nice cubby at the base of the center stack and a pair of glove boxes. The Fender sound system offered good quality sound. There were interesting water bottle holders in the doors that had elastic “hold-ins.”

All-in-all the 2014 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible is just a joy to drive. It does almost everything you ask of it, and while it is doing its thing, you are smiling.

2014 The Auto Page