There are cars which steal your heart every time you look at it, and even more so when you drive it. Indeed, you always want to take it on a tour when you see it parked or standing in your driveway. And this goes for every VW Beetle Cabrio, vintage or not.
The VW Beetle Cabrio has been redesigned rather extensively now, the lines have become sportier, the profile is now more classic, the whole car looks now even more inviting. I am myself the proud owner of a black "New Beetle" Cabrio, with the ultra smooth 1,4 litre petrol engine, and quite pleased with it.
But here now comes the Beetle test car in an even more attractive package, painted in Moonrock Silver with beige leather “Vienna” interior and a beautiful beige coloured roof. The car was actually in “Design” version, and it certainly looked the part. I drove it to France to meet my own New Beetle, and this drive was a delightful experience. Just read on…
Hans Knol ten Bensel
I must admit that I like the lines of the new Cabrio Beetle very much. The proportions are more classic, more reminiscent of the original Beetle. My first car actually was a dark blue 1960 30 HP Beetle, and indeed, this new car is breathing the lines and shapes of the original, more than on the 1998 New Beetle.
Volkswagen Design Chief Walter de Silva (Group) and Klaus Bischoff (Volkswagen Brand) set this as the objective for the Beetle: "Design a new original!"
The team began its task under Bischoff's guidance. They also made very dynamic proportions a high priority. An interesting aspect was that more than a few team members actually own their own air-cooled Beetles. It has also become a cult car among younger designers at Volkswagen. And that is how the final design of the 2011 Beetle came to be in Wolfsburg – a car of today as well as a design tribute to the automotive seed of an entire corporate group. And unmistakable indeed: If one were to take the first Beetle and the new Beetle and place them in a room together – shining light just over the roofs and viewing them from the side – one would see that the lines of the rear sections are nearly identical.
A classic and timeless interior…
The interior also breathes the aura of the original. Down to the large centrally placed speedometer, and especially the upright placed glove box, painted in the body colour. Of course, finish is excellent and the quality of the used materials is beyond reproach.
In the very ergonomic dash and interior you discover all the familiar controls of the Golf range, last but not least the excellent and smooth operating cruise control, which was installed in our test car as part of the Comfort Pack II, which included also the Climatronic digital heating and a large central armrest. Indeed, the car is utterly comfortable to live with, thanks also to the excellent heated seats, with plenty of adjustable range and providing very good support and that firmness which is “just right”.
1,6 TDI: state-of-the art smoothness and economy
The 1,6 litre 105 HP TDI Diesel engine truly amazed me. Utterly smooth, and this time without any Diesel clatter when cold, the engine is completely vibrationless and very, this time I mean very flexible. It will pull smoothly from the lowest revs, without any hesitation, completely belying its Diesel nature.
One would swear there is a smooth petrol engine in front.
And I must admit that I looked twice again to the test car description leaflet just to check that I had taken the right test car!
The combination with the DSG 7 speed automatic gearbox is also a unique experience. The box is ideally mated to this engine, taking its torque and power characteristics perfectly into account. Driven quietly, the gearbox will choose second gear to drive away, and change up at 1500 rpm and even slightly lower, but very smoothly, almost imperceptibly. Push the throttle a bit deeper, and the gearbox will use the available engine power a bit more. But what an impressive combination this is. The manufacturer quotes a consumption of 4,3 litres, and indeed we reached figures well below 5 litres. Performance is more than adequate, with a top speed of a good 180 kph.
So motorway driving is pure enjoyment in the Beetle Cabrio. Straight line stability is excellent, with slight wind noise only setting in at around 130 kph. Sound insulation is very good, even rougher road surfaces do not disturb cabin quietness in the Beetle.
We drove our test car to our holiday home in France, and an enjoyable drive it was!
Twisting country and mountain roads are a delight in de Beetle. Steering is responsive and light, and takes a sporting driving style into its stride. Not that you will see yourself frequently driving this Beetle to its limits, the car does not invite you to do so, certainly not in this engine version, but what it does is transport you smoothly and effortlessly through the landscape, enjoying the build quality and perfection of this car.
In terms of safety, too, the Beetle Convertible is exemplary: fitted as standard is a rollover protection system behind the rear seat headrests that shoots up within milliseconds of the car beginning to lean at a dangerous angle.
City driving and stop start driving are also a boon with this smooth engine and transmission, and last but not least light and effortless controls and steering.
Suspension set up, steering and brakes share Golf technology, so actually we do not have to say anything more here…
Enjoying the open skies…
And of course you enjoy open motoring to the full. Every slight ray of sunshine is ample reason to get immediately the top down. This goes in merely 9,5 seconds, and you can even do it when you are driving, to speeds up to 50 kph. Indeed, even in stormy October weather we drove very frequently open…enjoying motoring at its very best.
The restyled Beetle is now even more practical: luggage space has now been enlarged to 310 litres, and rear seats can be folded down separately.
As a conclusion, we can say this is a car to have a happy motoring life with, it is so generous, pleasant, comfortable, enjoyable, quality built for timeless pleasure.
Did you know that there are still more than half a million VW Cabrio’s on the road?
And it is good to know that every new Beetle Cabrio is indeed joining these ranks, becoming also an instant classic.
There is already a VW Cabrio with the 1,2 litre 105 HP petrol engine in our country for 21.860 Euros at the moment of writing, and the 1,6 TDI with the 7 speed DSG is available for 26.530 Euros. Need we say more?
Hans Knol ten Bensel