£20,220 - £28,990 Price range
47 - 64 MPG
The standard Beetle has been met with a fairly positive reception and – based on what reviewers have to say – it’s the same story for the Cabriolet version. As with the hardtop, the critics like how it’s a noticeably more enjoyable car to drive than its predecessor, along with the improved practicality and good range of engines on offer.
However, some issues that plague the regular Beetle have been carried over and, in some cases, emphasised by the Cabriolet’s nature as a soft-top convertible.
Cheapest to buy: 1.2-litre Standard petrol
Cheapest to run: 2.0-litre 110hp Standard diesel
Fastest model: 2.0-litre DSG Sport petrol
Most popular: 1.2-litre Design petrol
Jump from the hard-top to the Cabriolet, and – bar the fabric roof – there’s very little to differentiate the cabins: you get the same dash design, the same layout and the same satisfactory build quality. A few critics, though, reckon the overall fit-and-finish, as with the standard Beetle, isn’t quite up to the standards of other VW products.
Space inside is also pretty much identical, which in itself is both a blessing and a curse. There’s plenty of room for the driver and front passenger, and the design of the fabric roof means the boot’s the same size as it is on the hard-top.
Unfortunately, there are a few practicality issues. The boot, for instance, is shallow and oddly shaped, and the rear seats are quite tight. Some critics also reckon that with the roof up it’s quite claustrophobic in the back.
One of the ever-present problems when turning a hard-top into a convertible is the penalty in rigidity caused by the loss of the roof. Extra bracing has been added, and all models come with the clever rear suspension that was usually the preserve of the top spec hard-top Beetles.
From the reports, it seems the benefits are noticeably apparent. Most critics agree there’s very little scuttle shake, the overall dynamics aren’t too shabby and the ride quality appears to be fairly good (most, however, reckon it’s perhaps not quite as composed as the Beetle Cabrio’s boulevardier image suggests).
Overall refinement also seems to be pretty good, with many praising the sound insulation of the fabric roof – which takes 9.5 seconds to be raised or lowered at speeds of up to 30mph.
Whilst it’s by no means awful to drive, and noticeably better than the previous Beetle Cabriolet, some reckon it’s not that rewarding if you drive it enthusiastically. Rear visibility is also compromised when the roof is up, so it may be worth to spec the parking sensors if you’re definitely going to buy a Beetle Cab.
The Beetle Cabriolet shares the same engine range – three petrols, two diesels – that you’ll find in the equivalent hatchback Beetle, and they all appear to be decent powerplants.
Whilst the larger engines, in particular the 197hp 2.0 TSI petrol, offer the best performance in the range, many critics reckon it’s the smaller engines that are the pick of the range. For instance, all engines bar the aforementioned 2.0 petrol can manage at least 40mpg on the combined cycle, with the 1.6 TDI diesel managing a very impressive 65mpg.
All the engines appear to be very smooth and refined, as you’d expect from a VW engine. However, it is worth pointing out that the smallest engines in the range aren’t exactly what you’d call “punchy”…
Whilst all cars come with either a five or six-speed manual transmission, some critics are inclined to recommend the automatic DSG gearboxes over the manual, given that they suit the car’s more relaxed character. However, they do cost a fair bit of money to buy, and they do hamper the running costs slightly, so we’ll let you decide as to whether ease of use justifies slightly more frequent stops at the pumps.
Both of the testers who tried the engine out in the Beetle Cab appear to be pretty impressed with it. The duo agree the unit was, bar a slightly peaky power delivery, quite smooth and refined, which suited the car’s more relaxed, “boulevardier” image, but had enough power on tap to provide pretty brisk performance.
Fuel economy also isn’t too bad either, with claims of over 50mpg on the combined cycle.
It also seems to work very well with the six-speed DSG automatic, with its superior ease of use noticeably contrasting what one critic described as a “stiff” and “unhelpful” manual. However, the auto isn’t a standard item on the Beetle Cabrio, and does marginally hamper the car’s efficiency.
It’s also one of the more expensive models in the range, particularly in top-spec ‘Sport’ guise, so if you’re looking to spend less money on your Beetle, the cheaper engines in the range are worth a look at. However, if your pockets are deep enough and the blend of power and fuel economy is one that entices you, then you could do a lot worse than the 2.0 TDI.
In fact, there only seems to be one big hurdle to overcome: the fairly steep asking price…
With the same powertrain as the Mk 6 Golf GTI under the retro skin, the Beetle Cabrio is by some margin the quickest in the range so far, with 0-60mph completed in 7.5 seconds and a 138mph top speed, as well as a rorty exhaust to back-up the car’s performance credentials.
The 2.0 TSI Beetle Cabrio also seems to steer pretty well, and – even on the large 18-inch alloy wheels that were fitted to the test car – the overall ride quality seems to be rather good as well. The running costs aren’t too bad either, with VW claiming 37mpg on the combined cycle.
If you’ve set your heart on getting this spec of Beetle Cabriolet, then you’ll need to fork out a fair bit of money for the privilege, as it’s one of the most expensive variants you can buy. Unless you desperately want the performance, we’re inclined to recommend the cheaper Beetle Cabrio models in the range.
The Beetle Cabriolet is offered in three models, and the safety list varies depending on the one you choose. Standard features include six airbags, ESC (Electronic Stability Control), ABS, and hill-hold assist. The car hasn’t been crash-tested by Euro NCAP, but given that the Beetle hatchback scored a full five stars, the cabriolet shouldn’t be far behind.
Rollover protection is taken care of by hoops, extending from behind the rear headrests in an emergency. ISOFIX child seat mounts are available on all models, while the higher versions get cruise control, too.
In some respects the Beetle Cabriolet does seem to offer pretty admirable value for money. Most of the engines are respectably efficient, and unless you go for the “poverty-spec” entry level trim, it’s stuffed with quite a few options as standard: mid-spec ‘Design’ trim, for instance, gets alloy wheels, Bluetooth, DAB and a touch screen.
In other areas, though, that doesn’t seem to be the case. The top Beetle Cabriolet models are by no means cheap cars to buy, and all Cabrios are noticeably more expensive than their hard-top counterparts. Projected residual values aren’t particularly impressive either.
Still, at least it’s more practical than its retro rivals like the Mini Cooper Convertible and the Fiat 500C…
Overall, the Beetle Cabriolet certainly has its merits, especially when compared with the similarly style-conscious cars it competes with. Decent ride and handling, useable practicality and some pretty capable powertrains help make a convincing case. Dynamically, the soft-top Beetle does lose some ground to the best rivals, but almost all Beetle buyers will be focused more on the car’s styling.
All in all, if you’re in the market for an affordable, stylish convertible that isn’t too compromised when it comes to practicality, we reckon it’s worth considering the new Beetle Cabriolet.
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