2013 Volkswagen Beetle Review
Spending a week in the droptop Bug.
Web2Carz Senior Writer
Published: March 22nd, 2013
Volkswagen Beetle enthusiasts who've been clamoring for a drop-top version got their wish for 2013, as VW added a convertible to the Beetle line.
Top-down motoring requires some sacrifices, of course, but given the Beetle's iconic shape, we suspect many buyers won't care.
Our office was gripped by a deep freeze during the week of our test, but that didn't stop us from checking out this convertible.
Our tester came equipped with the base engine, a 2.5-liter five-cylinder that cranks out 170 horsepower. The five-cylinder is initially lacking in power, but once the engine gets into its rev band, it comes on strong, moving the little Beetle with aplomb.
The Beetle's steering is twitchy and nervous--especially just off-center--while driving around town, but when hustling on a back road it firms up nicely, and it's accurate enough to ensure proper corner placement. The ride is on the stiff side--not surprising, given the car's sporty intent and short length--which is fine while cornering but a bit obnoxious on rough pavement.
Dropping the top is an easy process that requires one to hold a switch for about ten seconds (hold the switch the other way to raise it) and according to VW, the top can be lowered or raised at speeds up to 31 mph. We had no problem operating it while moving in stop-and-go traffic.
The soft top does detract somewhat from the Beetle's classic look, but not much. Volkswagen gave the car a more aggressive look when the coupe version was redesigned for 2012, and that carries over here. It's still the classic Beetle shape, but with a little more attitude.
Our tester was fairly short on options, but it still came with Bluetooth and heated seats. The heated seats come in handy when you want to go top-down on a cold day.
We weren't fans of the base stereo head unit, its settings menu is too confusing at times. And we don't like the head-mounted Bluetooth/voice recognition buttons, which occasionally failed to activate. We also found that we couldn't pair a new phone if a staffer with an already paired phone was standing too close.
With the top up, most noise stays outside, although wind noise does intrude at highway speeds. There's a surprising amount of headroom and legroom up front, but the rear seat isn't comfortable for adults.
Our tester came with body-colored paneling on the dash and steering wheel (no steering wheel audio controls, though), which gave the Beetle a bit of style flair. We also like the extra storage bin located above the glovebox.
The tiny trunk is more or less useless, although small pieces of luggage will fit.
The little Beetle is a sprightly performer, and we imagine it would be even better with the available turbocharged engine. It's a bit funky around town, but push it hard and it comes into its own.
Not only that, but it's a stylish ride, at least with the top down. It draws looks wherever it goes.
Like most convertibles, the Beetle isn't a practical choice for most, and its size further limits that practicality. That won't be a problem for most buyers, they'll know what they're getting into.
What may be a surprise to some is the performance. Not only does the car look good, it executes well, too.
Turns out you can look good and feel good, too.
Specs, Features, and Prices
Engine: 2.5-liter five-cylinder
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
Drive Wheels: Front-wheel-drive
Fuel Economy: 21 mpg city/27 mpg highway
Base Price: $24,995
Available Features: Bluetooth, auxiliary port, heated side mirrors, heated front seats, cruise control, twin glove compartments, 50/50 split-fold rear seat.
• For more information such as specs, prices, and photos of the 2013 Volkswagen Beetle, click here: 2013 Volkswagen Beetle.