Volkswagen Beetle

Cabriolet Design 1.2

TSI DSG

 Volkswagen Beetle Cabriolet, dashboard
 Volkswagen Beetle Cabriolet, interior
 Volkswagen Beetle Cabriolet, action
Volkswagen Beetle Cabriolet, rear
Volkswagen Beetle Cabriolet, profile
Volkswagen Beetle Cabriolet, profile

THE Volkswagen Beetle has had something of a sunshine image ever since the sixties when, alongside that other VW classic the Camper Van, it was adopted by the surfing community.

Of course, the soft-top version was a big hit back in that hippie heyday as it meant you could catch the rays as you drove down to the sea with your board sticking out of the open roof.

As luck would have it there was an unusually Californian feel to the early summer weather when the latest Beetle Cabriolet arrived on my drive for a few days.

And the experience of driving around in a Beetle convertible, in the sun, with the roof down, is undoubtedly one of motoring's great pleasures.

Even though this, the third generation of Beetle after the iconic original and the New Beetle, is effectively a VW Golf underneath its stylish skin you can't help being swept along on a wave of sentimentality.

And that's because, much like BMW's MINI and Fiat's 500, the heritage and romance of its predecessor seems to have been inherited, pretty much undiminished, by the modern-day Beetle.

Although recent incarnations have seen it get progressively longer, wider, and lower, the unmistakable profile of that first Bug, as it was affectionately known, remains as do the prominent wheel arches and ‘smiling' face.

Modern VW design language has been seamlessly integrated so that the distinctive horizontal rear bumper, slim front air inlet, straight bonnet edges and the clean lines of the marque's range are all present.

Unique to the Cabriolet though, and helping to endow it with a more sporty and dynamic feel, is a rear spoiler running across the boot lid. As well as looking great this helps maintain the car's stability at speed.

Inside the styling also strikes a balance between the traditional and modern with today's high-tech features neatly married to a minimal, easy to navigate dashboard which features a glovebox with a flip up lid closely echoing that of the original.

In this mid-range Design trim and above the dash is also fitted with a painted metal fascia that matches the exterior colour.

Although buyers are likely to place it's trendy image above practicality, the increased dimensions of the latest Beetle do lend it a greater road presence and more muscular feel as well as added interior space.

In the front there is plenty of room to get comfortable and, although knee room is a bit tight, two should fit into the rear of this dedicated four-seater without too much of a squeeze when the roof is down. With the roof up, though, headroom is a little tight for adults.

There's reasonable oddment storage in the front, including a compartment in the flip down armrest, but very little for those in the back. The boot though, at 225 litres, is larger than the one in the New Beetle and is always available as the fabric roof folds down on the outside

And that roof, despite being a soft-top, feels strong and secure thanks to the quality materials used, features a glass rear windscreen and cleverly folds away in just 9.5 seconds, and back up in 11 seconds, at speeds of up to 31mph.

When there is little wind the roof actually makes refreshingly little noise as the car cuts through the air and general refinement is good, but if the breeze picks up then it does whistle around the seals of the canopy.

The same strong line-up of engines that features in the coupe are offered in the Beetle Cabriolet with 1.2, 1.4 and 1.6-litre petrol options and 1.6 and 2.0-litre diesels variously paired with five or six-speed manual transmissions or VW's impressive seven-speed DSG automatic.

Despite its relatively low 105ps power output, I found the entry-level 1.2-litre petrol engine to be surprisingly pokey, making the car engaging and enjoyable to drive.

Perhaps it was the benefit of slick automatic gearbox, but throttle response was quick and acceleration smooth, certainly feeling quicker than the quoted 0-62mph sprint time of 11.7 seconds.

Average fuel economy of almost 50 miles per gallon and low emissions and insurance costs also make this an economical choice.

With most of its underpinnings borrowed from the Golf the ride is nimble and assured with good grip and great body control in bends.

And despite the old school looks the Beetle is equipped with all the most up-to-date kit to make life behind the wheel relaxing and easy.

Standard equipment in Design trim includes alloy wheels; air conditioning; stereo with DAB radio, six-CD autochanger, SD card reader and Bluetooth and USB connectivity; stability and traction control; all the usual airbags; hill hold function and anti-whiplash front head restraints.

Optional upgrades included sat nav, a premium Fender sound system and attractive two-tone upholstery with heated front sports seats.

These will push the cost up though, and it's fair to say that the Beetle Cabriolet is not cheap to start with.

Nevertheless, the VW badge, head-turning looks and the summery feel good factor of its heritage are sure to mean there'll be plenty of people happy to pay the price.

FAST FACTS

Volkswagen Beetle Cabriolet Design 1.2 TSI DSG

Price: £22,580

Mechanical: 105ps, 1,197cc, 4cyl petrol engine driving front wheels via 7-speed automatic gearbox

Max Speed: 111mph

0-62mph:11.7 seconds

Combined MPG: 47.9

Insurance Group:15

C02 emissions:139g/km

Bik rating: 21%

Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles

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