Volkswagen Beetle Cabriolet boasts sky-high appeal
- Credit: VW
Volkswagen's latest Beetle Cabriolet opens up new appeal for the iconic soft-top, says Iain Dooley, PA senior motoring writer.
The Beetle reboot continues with Volkswagen taking the car to the next, and logical, step in its evolution – going roofless.
Previous iterations of the 'new' Beetle boasted a cabriolet but, as you would expect, evolution has brought a number of welcome improvements.
Like its tin-top version, this car is a little bigger than its predecessor – it's a fraction longer and wider. Carrying capacity is up, with occupants fore and aft benefiting from more room, plus boot space has increased to more respectable levels.
The car's cabin is roomy enough up front, with just enough space in the back for adults if the journey isn't too long – this improvement is largely thanks to the Beetle's bigger dimensions. With the roof down headroom is considerably better for all occupants, and helps access to the snug rear part of the cabin.
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Volkswagen is pitching the car higher up the premium ladder this time, and sat-nav, climate control, premium audio and leather are all on the options list. Standard kit is good too, with air-con, DAB radio, alloy wheels, Bluetooth and parking sensors across the three trim levels.
Most seasoned observers will bristle at the use of the word 'sporty' in the context of something distinctly unsporting like the Beetle, and while Volkswagen is keen to promote the Beetle as such it's fair to say it's a more willing participant than the previous version.
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Urban motoring duties do much to highlight the car's agility and willingness to change direction. It's not a small car, yet this never proves a handicap around town and the slightly raised seating position helps boost forward visibility. Although a sport suspension option exists, in standard guise the car copes well with urban road imperfections. And the lack of a proper roof appears not to have spoiled the experience – only the roughest of roads will prompt the odd shake from the cabin.
Away from the city the Beetle acquits itself well to demands of faster roads and more challenging corners. It's no Golf GTI but it's good to know that a brisk pace can be maintained. Realistically the drop-top Beetle prefers a more sedate pace, and although engine choice mirrors that of the tin-top car, the low-powered petrol and diesel engines better suit its relaxed gait.
Not only will the petrol 1.2 TSI and diesel 1.6 TDI be easy on your wallet but they also perform better than they really deserve to in the real world. The Beetle Cabriolet isn't a lightweight car, yet those engines deliver enough thrust to cope with all of life's challenges despite their modest outputs. And a slick, optional, direct shift DSG automatic gearbox makes driving even more effortless.
First-hand experience of this third-generation modern-day Beetle Cabriolet reveals it's a more engaging and rewarding experience than before and a genuine head-turner – various styling cues offer a more clearly defined link with the car that started it all off.
The good news continues with a car capable of cosseting you when on the move, while helping to make the ownership experience a pleasant one thanks largely to the practical nature of its power folding roof.
With all this progress is it now a question of third time lucky for Volkswagen's latest-generation Beetle convertible? It's certainly shaping up to be the case.