Gizmag was on hand when Volkswagen unveiled the convertible variant of its new second-generation Beetle at the LA Auto Show ... second generation of the modern front-engined modern version, that is. The first generation was a relatively successful exercise in retro nostalgia, complete with dash-mounted bud vase, that appealed to a distinctly feminine demographic. This time things are more serious and less “cartoony,” with a wider, longer, lower body shape and a level of design and finish that offer real value and less novelty. It’s only right and proper that the iconic rag-top version should be launched in California.
Compared with the 2006 version of the car, the latest Beetle Convertible is 3.3 inches (8.4 cm) wider at 71.2 inches (180.9 cm); 1.1 inches (2.8 cm) lower at 58.0 inches (147.3 cm) tall; and 6.0 inches (15.2 cm) longer at 168.4 inches (427.7 cm) overall.
A convertible bodyshell is less rigid than a coupe's because the upper part of the structure is open, so the Beetle Convertible's body needed reinforcements. This included the use of partial body reinforcements and sheet metal with greater strength, such as:
- The A-pillar's interior bar is 0.5 mm thicker and made from ultra-high-strength hot-formed steel instead of cold-formed metal. There is also a reinforcement in the "bend area"
With the top up, the Beetle Convertible has an even lower roofline than the Coupe. The top lies flat when it's lowered, giving good visibility. The flexible leatherette top boot tidies up the appearance and is also a nice retro touch – though it’s an added pain when you need the roof up in a hurry. Volkswagen decided to stick with a traditional softtop because it allows for a roofline that's more like the original 1949 type 15's. Also, a softtop takes up less space than a folding hardtop, thus giving more trunk space. The heatable rear window is made of tempered safety glass.
The top takes 9.5 seconds to stow and 11 seconds to be raised. It can be raised and lowered at speeds of up to 31 mph (49.8 km/h), which is unusually high for a convertible.
Of the interior, VW Head Designer Klaus Bischoff says: "The shape and use of color for the dashboard harkens back to the design of the very first Beetle models and helps to create a highly individual cabin. The simple layout and clean graphics are the same as the Beetle Coupe's." The metal dash really does look rather good and the glovebox is an absolute spitting image of the original (if my memory serves correctly). All the modern conveniences are still present and correct however, and the Turbo and Turbo Diesel get an extra set of gauges located Porsche-style, on top of the dash.
In fact, all the 2013 Beetle Convertibles are pretty well equipped. The base 2.5-liter model has standard 17-inch aluminum-alloy wheels; a leather-wrapped steering wheel; an eight-speaker sound system with aux-in; Bluetooth technology; a Media Device Interface with iPod cable; 3-color adjustable ambient lighting; heatable front seats and exterior mirrors; cruise control; and V-Tex leatherette seating.
Available extras include a multifunction leather-trimmed steering wheel, keyless access with push-button start, leather seating, the RNS 315 navigation system, a Fender Premium Audio System, and Sirius XM satellite radio.
The following powertrain combinations are available: the 2.5-liter 5-cylinder engine mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission; the 2.0-liter TSI turbocharged 4-cylinder gasoline engine with 6-speed manual or 6-speed DSG dual-clutch automatic transmissions; and the 2.0-liter TDI turbocharged Clean Diesel with the same manual or DSG options.
The 2.5-liter inline 5-cylinder has dual chain-driven overhead camshafts with variable timing on the intake side, four valves per cylinder, and an aluminum-alloy cylinder head. The engine makes 170 horsepower and 177 pound-feet (239.9 Nm) of torque. The turbocharged dual-overhead-cam, 16-valve, 2.0-liter, direct-injection, 4-cylinder engine in the Turbo makes 200 horsepower and 207 lb-ft (280.6 Nm) of torque, delivered from just 1,700 rpm. The Beetle TDI uses the company's 2.0-liter turbocharged, direct-injection Clean Diesel engine that makes 140 horsepower and 236 pound-feet (319.9 Nm) of torque.
Base prices start at US$24,995 rising to $32,395 for the Turbo with DSG transmission. Orders begin in December.