The 2007 Volkswagen New Beetle Convertible Triple White we were driving isn’t, well, terribly manly. It’s sort of like Jerry Van Dyke’s character in the John Wayne movie McClintock. Van Dyke plays an Eastern college boy in a movie full of—naturally—cowboys. Van Dyke doesn’t get the girl. However, we’re secure in our masculinity and were darned well determined to enjoy our topless time in the sun.
The New Beetle Convertible is a fairly well-known entity, a Volkswagen in the true spirit of the Beetle Cabriolet of yore. It is not a sports car, nor particularly sporty for that matter. Like the Volkswagen New Beetle two-door hatchback sedan, the New Beetle Convertible is based on the front-drive Volkswagen Golf/Rabbit platform, and for 2007 is, like the sedan, consigned to that model’s use of the base 2.5-liter five-cylinder engine. Earlier, more powerful New Beetle models have succumbed to a lack of buyer enthusiasm.
Instead, Volkswagen has attempted to stir interest in the flagging New Beetle model with specially-trimmed models. Hence our Triple White tester, so named for its Campanella White exterior, white leatherette interior and, for over the retracted convertible roof—in black only—a white leatherette tonneau cover.
<b>Can you tonneau?</> For the uninformed: A tonneau cover is, in this case, a fabric cover for the convertible “stack,’ the pile of the convertible canvas and framework of the lowered convertible top. It tidies things up and keeps the loose canvas from flapping in the wind. Most new convertibles have a hard tonneau (a body-material flap that opens and closes over the lowered top). It allows a clean line, devoid of bulging cloth, and doesn’t require the cloth to be stretched, snapped, clipped or zipped every time a little al fresco driving is desired. A convertible top sans tonneau is the aforementioned ugly pile of canvas attesting to one’s utter lack of fashion sense and personal appearance.
Never accuse the Volkswagen New Beetle of poor taste. After the top is lowered—a simple task requiring unlatching it at the windshield header with a single twist handle and lifting a button until all the noise stops—it slips over the top like a giant sock. It fits snugly and attaches to the bodywork with two large clips.
Like a traditional German cabriolet and particularly like the original Volkswagen Beetle Cabriolet, the New Beetle Convertible’s folded top sits above the body like an oversized Cabbage Patch spoiler, promising to block the driver’s view to the rear.
It’s a promise kept. With the top down, the lower half of the rearview mirror’s usual view is blocked and the side mirrors need to be used more to see what’s behind. With the top up, the rear window is adequate; it’s the rear quarter view that’s blocked.
Otherwise the view from the driver’s seat is much like any other New Beetle’s. There’s the black dashboard that stretches waaay out to the bottom of the windshield, thanks to the New Beetle’s profile. That’s not changed by the convertible top, which duplicates the curve of the sedan’s highly arched roofline. Nor are overhead traffic lights any easier to see, the windshield header being so far forward. Lowering the top fixes that, of course. But also like the sedan, the high side windows and small sunvisors mean a low sun from the side can be brutal.
The New Beetle Convertible’s instrument panel is a round pod circumscribing the outer edge of the speedometer, with a fuel gauge and mini-tachometer inset into the speedo’s base. The New Beetle still has the flower vase on the dash and the illumination continues blue on the instrument panel with red controls on the center stack.
In upholstering the interior, cooler heads prevailed and only the seats and door panels are white. Carpets are wisely black, the white upholstery offering challenge enough to keep clean. Mothers of young children will not need to be discouraged from owning a Triple White New Beetle. Ironically, the back seat is snug enough, with essentially no leg room, suitable only for small children. On the other hand, the front seats hop up and forward to allow relatively easy access to the rear. There’s just no there there to get to.
The New Beetle Convertible trunk is snug, too: Think carry-on. A wheelie bag small enough to fit the standard aircraft overhead luggage bin, plus several other small bags, a coat, plus room for the tonneau—the top has to go up sometime—fills the trunk. The trunk lid has articulated hinges which tilt the turnklid up and almost out of the way. But if cargo capacity and ease of loading are high priorities, consider that with no people in the back seat there’s lots of room for stuff. And if the top is down, it’s all that much easier to put it in.