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2014 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible R-Line Review By Larry Nutson


2014 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible R-Line  (select to view enlarged photo)
2014 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible R-Line



2014 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible R-Line Review
See the USA in your Cabriolet (so sorry Dinah).

By Larry Nutson
Senior Editor, Chicago Bureau Chief
The Auto Channel

Global convertible car sales are less than half of what they were 10 years ago. Cars as a status symbol is on a decline and car buyers are being more practical about their purchases. A result is that there are fewer convertible models to choose from.


PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)
"Photo courtesy of Mid America Motorworks
Volkswagen has always had a convertible for sale in the U.S. market. The Beetle Convertible has been around forever, or so it seems. Volkswagen calls the present 2014 Beetle Convertible the third generation. Only three after all these years seems amazing.

I spent a week enjoying a 2014 Beetle Convertible R-Line. It’s a far cry from the original Beetle convertible from the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s. Now front wheel drive with the engine up front and built on the same platform as the Golf, there are many comfort and convenience features that minimize some of the inconveniences of a drop top.

My 2014 Beetle cabrio, as I prefer to call it, in the R-Line trim has an MSRP of $29,395. There were no added options and just the additional $820 destination charge. The R-Line was introduced in 2014 and replaces the Beetle Turbo Convertible model name.


2014 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible R-Line  (select to view enlarged photo)

The saying goes: if the top goes down the price goes up. For comparison the 2014 Beetle (sedan) R-line is $24,995 or if you still wanted some sun and got the sunroof model it would run you $27,895.

Air conditioning is standard therefore if it should be really hot or humid or you don’t want to mess your hair you still can be comfortable. The top is power operated including the latching mechanism, and the windows are as well. With the simple push of a button the top is down and the windows open in a mere 9.5 seconds. And you can operate the top at speeds up to 31 mph, in case you should get inspired while on the go or it starts to drizzle rain and you need to get the top up…and that takes 11 seconds.


2014 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible R-Line  (select to view enlarged photo)

Convertibles were once known for being more noisy than the equivalent fixed roof model, as well as colder in winter and prone to break-ins via a slashed top. I had a slashed top experience in one of the three convertibles that made its way into my life. Technology and material science has helped change that.

The Beetle convertible topping material is supplied by the Haartz Corporation, a leading global manufacturer of soft top convertible material. The top is made from Haartz’s Twillfast RPC, which is an acoustically enhanced three-ply composite made of acrylic twill weave outer fabric, a rubber inner layer and polyester lining fabric. The top is available in black and beige.

Haartz convertible toppings are engineered to dispel the misconceptions of soft top convertibles. By combining the latest in textile and plastics technology, Haartz materials offer benefits on par with both coupes and retractable hard tops including all-season driving and superior acoustical and noise-vibration-harshness (NVH) performance, as well as optimized trunk space when the top is down.


2014 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible R-Line  (select to view enlarged photo)

VW has also taken steps to improve the Beetle Convertible’s rigidity with additional body reinforcements, A-pillar and front roof windshield header strengthening, use of high strength steel in the B-pillar area, as well as an extra rear panel that integrates the Automatic Rollover Protection System. This third-Gen Beetle Convertible is 20 percent stiffer than the previous new Beetle model.

The Beetle Convertible R-Line for 2014 features aggressively styled bumpers front and rear as well as R-Line exterior badging and R-Line door sill kickplates. The top R-Line Convertible with Sound with Navigation also features unique 19-inch aluminum-alloy wheels, Bi-Xenon headlights with LED DRLs, and leather seating surfaces; black interiors also get an R-Line badge on the steering wheel and a “metallic finish” dash pad. All Beetle R-Line models are fitted with the latest Gen 3 2.0-liter version of the EA888 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, which makes 210 HP.


2014 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible R-Line  (select to view enlarged photo)

My test car was delightfully equipped with a 6-speed manual transmission. Clutch action is smooth and linear and transmission shifting is easy making for a not-too-difficult driving experience in a crowded city. EPA test fuel economy ratings for the 6-speed manual are 26 mpg combined or 3.8 gallons per 100 miles, with 23 city mpg and 31 highway mpg ratings. Remember, your mileage may vary.


2014 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible R-Line  (select to view enlarged photo)

An integrated wind blocking system is offered for the Beetle Convertible. It stows neatly in the trunk and is easily and quickly installed for two-person driving. The Beetle Convertible trunk, unlike some convertibles, is fully usable top up or top down with no loss in space. There is also a split-fold rear seat for added versatility.

A minor discomfort, at least for me, is the seat belt shoulder belt upper anchor that is attached at a lower point in the B-pillar than in a Beetle sedan. It’s just a minor inconvenience for being able to drop the top.

2014 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible R-Line  (select to view enlarged photo)

VW’s former Rabbit and Golf hatchback-based convertibles had a “basket handle” roll over bar that not only provided chassis stiffening but also an upper anchor for the front seat belt. Frankly, I’m happy this design element went away with the Beetle convertible.


2014 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible R-Line  (select to view enlarged photo)

The Beetle convertible provides a very comfortable ride with good handling and steering. It has very adequate acceleration and is smooth and responsive for traffic merging. It would make a fun road trip car for top down driving on the back roads and byways of the country. On the expressways with all the truck noise and tire noise from all the SUVs, you are better off with the top up or at least all the windows up to buffer the noise. Audiologists advise that repeated top-down highway speed driving, above 55mph, may lead to hearing loss. The risk is in doing this very frequently, and not once and awhile.

For 2015, the Beetle convertible range receives a modest number of enhancements. A new, limited-edition trim—Classic—joins the lineup, offering unique seat fabric, RNS 315 navigation, and a six-speed automatic transmission. 17-inch “Circle” alloy wheels are also available on this trim, and can be white or black, depending on the exterior color.

If you want to compare the new 2015 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible to other 4-seat or for that matter, 2-seat convertibles, you can do that right here on www.theautochannel.com. If you would like more information and detailed specification on the 2015 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible they can be found a mouse click away at www.vw.com.

Volkswagen’s have Carefree Maintenance covering scheduled maintenance. For 2015 the coverage is now 1 year or 10,000 miles, reduced from the previous 2 years or 24,000 miles.

It might just be time for a breath of fresh air.

© Larry Nutson