THE Beetle reboot continues with Volkswagen taking the car to the next, and logical, step in its evolution – going roofless. Of course, Volkswagen has been here before; previous iterations of the “new” Beetle boasted a Cabriolet variant. However, as you would expect, evolution has brought a number of welcome improvements.
Like its tin-top cousin, this car is a little bigger than the one it replaces – 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 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 enlarged dimensions. Of course, with the roof down, headroom is considerably better for all occupants, and greatly helps access to the otherwise snug rear part of the cabin.
Volkswagen has decided to pitch the car higher up the premium ladder this time, and sat-nav, climate control, premium audio and leather all appear on the options list. The list of standard kit is good too, with the likes of air-con, DAB radio, alloy wheels, Bluetooth and parking sensors spread across the three trim levels.
Most seasoned observers will bristle at the use of the word “sporty” in the context of something distinctly un-sporting 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 its older cousin. 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 will with the usual array of urban surface imperfections. Furthermore, the lack of a proper roof appears not to have spoilt 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 the 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 the low-powered petrol and diesel engines suit its relaxed gait. Not only will units such as the petrol 1.2 TSI and diesel 1.6 TDI motors be easy on your wallet, but they also perform well. The Beetle Cabriolet isn’t a lightweight car, yet those engines deliver enough thrust to cope. Factor in a slick, optional, direct shift DSG auto gearbox if you want to make the driving even more effortless.
First-hand experience of this third-generation modern-day Beetle Cabriolet reveals that it’s a much more engaging and rewarding experience than before and the car is a proper head-turner – various styling cues offer a more clearly defined link with the model 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 VW’s Beetle convertible? It’s certainly shaping up to be the case.
CAR Volkswagen Beetle 1.2 TSI
PRICE From £20,525
PERFORMANCE Max speed 111mph, 0-62mph 11.7 seconds
FUEL CONSUMPTION (combined) 46.3mpg
CO2 EMISSIONS 142g/km