Through the decades, the design of the Volkswagen Beetle convertible has evolved from the austere looks of the original to the way-too-cute previous generation known as the New Beetle. The folks at VW have given the latest version a distinctly more muscular stance while also dropping the silly and eventually ironic "New" moniker.
Besides the obvious appeal of having a power-operated folding soft top, the Beetle convertible boasts a high-quality interior, a relatively roomy cabin and turbocharged engines that are both powerful and efficient. Put it all together and you have a convertible that deserves the serious consideration of anyone looking to enjoy some open-air motoring.
Current Volkswagen Beetle Convertible
This four-passenger convertible is offered in three main trim levels. The base trim will be known as the 2.5L until the engine that name refers to is replaced, resulting in a change of name to 1.8T. Equipment will be the same, though. The other trims are the TDI and R-Line.
The entry-level 2.5L comes with a 2.5-liter inline five-cylinder producing 170 horsepower and 177 pound-feet of torque. A five-speed manual transmission is standard, while a six-speed automatic is optional. Its 1.8T replacement has a 1.8-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with 170 hp and 184 lb-ft. The TDI version features a turbocharged 2.0-liter diesel four-cylinder engine (140 hp and 236 lb-ft), while the sporty R-Line model gets a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder (210 hp and 207 lb-ft). Transmission choices for the TDI and R-Line include a six-speed manual or a six-speed dual-clutch automated manual known as DSG.
Even the base Beetle comes well-equipped with 17-inch alloy wheels, a power-operated fabric top, keyless entry, air-conditioning, leatherette (premium vinyl) upholstery, heated front seats, 50/50-split-folding rear seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a trip computer, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, and an eight-speaker sound system. The TDI adds keyless ignition and entry, a dash-top gauge pod, a touchscreen audio interface and satellite radio. The R-Line gets 18-inch alloy wheels, a sport-tuned suspension, a rear spoiler, cloth upholstery, front sport seats and distinctive interior trim. Also standard is Volkswagen's Car-Net telematics system. Major options include a navigation system, a rearview camera and a nine-speaker Fender premium audio system.
One of the key attractions to the Beetle Convertible is its stylish and welcoming interior. There's some fashion sense here, with its clean lines and, on some versions, color-matched dash panels. The front seats are roomy and comfortable, and the rear seats can actually be used by adults for short drives. When it's time to drop the top, it's a simple affair that takes only about 10 seconds. Just as with previous Beetle convertibles, the top stacks behind the rear seats, which impedes rearward vision somewhat but allows the trunk to still be fairly accommodating.
Even though it's heavier than the coupe by about 200 pounds, the convertible provides a similar, well-balanced approach to handling and ride comfort. The 2.5-liter base engine is merely adequate and returns below-average fuel economy numbers, so we strongly recommend waiting for the turbo 1.8T or going with the much more responsive (and fuel-efficient) R-Line and TDI models.
Used Volkswagen Beetle Convertible Models
The latest-generation Volkswagen Beetle convertible debuted for 2013. As with the coupe, the convertible's transformation from the previous New Beetle guise included a longer, lower and wider body. Inside, the broad dash with the friendly flower vase gave way to a more vertical windshield and body-color trim. In addition to a sleeker look, the car's increased dimensions provided a roomier interior, especially in the backseat, and a slightly larger trunk. For that first year, the convertible was available in special editions ('50s Edition, '60s Edition and '70s Edition) with unique exterior paint colors.
These Beetle convertibles are similar to today's apart from lacking the telematics system, the availability of a rearview camera, and the Turbo version (renamed the R-Line for '14) having 10 less horsepower.
For information on the previous-generation model (produced from 2003-'10), please see our review of the New Beetle convertible.