It’s not uncommon for people to tell us they like the car we’re driving. Most of the time, we like it too. And we weren’t surprised when a female friend went gaga over the 2014 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible. The VW Beetle is a chick car, right?
But what surprised us is that during one refueling stop and once in the middle of our photo shoot, adult males volunteered “nice car” and another outright gushed, the latter telling how he had owned a ’76 Beetle Cabriolet, and how much this one was just like it.
Well, not really. Those with a long memory will recall the high convertible stack made the rear view even less interesting than a hotel airshaft window, and how the added weight of the convertible and the desmogged engine made the Seventies Beetle slower than space heater sales in San Antonio in August.
And even then, the drop-top Vee-Dub wasn’t the automobile equivalent of the guy you’d want on your six in a knife fight.
The 2013 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible Turbo is another matter. The turbocharged Beetle might come up short against the Terminator, or for that matter, an ordinary U.S. Marine (as if any Marine is ordinary), but the street punk is sliced and diced before he starts.
The Volkswagen direct-injection 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine is rated at 210 horsepower and 207 lb-ft of torque, which doesn’t sound like all that much, but the engine rolls out max torque starting at just 1700 rpm. There’s no need to rev the engine continuously to keep it on the run. The VW turbo engine is ready, Freddie, when you need it. Or want it.
In fact, with the six-speed manual in our test Beetle Convertible Turbo, we were constantly chirping the front tires—not through trying, though—any time we started out with the wheels not straight ahead. It’s kind of fun, actually, though not befitting anyone with our dignified status. (Note: The computer choked on that last phrase, but we typed it in again).
Indeed, the 2013 VW Beetle Convertible Turbo has enough punch to be genuinely entertaining.
The Beetle Convertible is available with the same engines as in other VW products—the 2.5-liter five-cylinder (going away in the 2014 model year, incidentally) and the TDI, which we recently tested in the 2014 Beetle coupe. The best we can say about the two-five is that it’s a low cost of entry—only $24,995—and the sounds of the five cylinder are distinctive. The diesel engine in the Beetle Convertible TDI is more expensive up front, but frugal and makes those diesel noises, though modestly, love ‘em or leave ‘em.
The 2.5 is available only with a six-speed automatic while both TDI and Turbo can be had with either a six-speed manual or six-speed DSG automatic with paddle shifting. Our tester came with the conventional six-speed stick, which we found as enjoyable in the Beetle Convertible as in other VW products we’ve driven. It’s quick and precise and the pedals are well laid out for heel-and-toeing for those sports car enthusiasts who still know how to do it.
The standard 2013 Beetle with a steel roof is snug enough in the back seat. With average sized people up front, adults aren’t going to fit into the rear. Leg room is AWOL and the seatback almost vertical. Don’t expect much from the trunk, either. While the standard Beetle is a three-door hatchback with the utility that implies, the Convertible comes with a compact trunk, only 7.1 cubic foot worth of cargo capacity.
But wait, there’s less. The Beetle Convertible comes with a boot to put over the convertible stack—VW made convertible top more compact but it still sticks up and looks untidy—and stowing the quasi-rigid boot takes a lot of precious volume. What’s more, the boot isn’t easy to put on, though no doubt practice will help. But there’s still a lot of tugging and poking to make it look right.