This week’s arrival of spring marks the unofficial opening of convertible season.
Volkswagen celebrates the drop-top driving ritual with the addition of the Volkswagen Beetle Convertible to its 2013 model line.
“Today’s VW Beetle has a muscular appearance, built off of the (Volkswagen) Jetta platform for a four-inch wider and four-inch longer stance, giving the Beetle a beefier look,” says Ryan Roddy, sales consultant for Team Volkswagen in Merrillville.
According to Roddy, Beetle’s latest styling has caught more male buyers’ attention spanning an age spectrum from drivers in their mid-20s to beyond middle-age.
“The VW Beetle has a retro look about it that older buyers relate to from their memories and ownership of the early Beetle models, while younger buyers are enjoying the VW Beetle experience for the first time,” Roddy said.
A recent trip to America’s desert southwest near Phoenix, Ariz., provided me the opportunity to test drive the four-passenger VW Beetle Convertible top-down under desirous sun-filled road conditions.
Operating the powered canvas top is effortless with one-button ease that takes 10-seconds to lower or raise. The convertible top stacks neatly behind the rear seat.
A provided vinyl "boot" can be manually placed over the collapsed roof for a tidy retro look. The form-fitted boot takes some tug-and-tuck effort to install for a secure fit.
As a matter of convenience, I stowed the boot in the convertible’s 7.1-cubic-fot trunk for cross-town jaunts with plenty of room left for grocery bags or small parcels.
Lifting the round VW badge on the trunk lid releases the rear cargo hatch – clever engineering.
Driver and front passenger space is comfortable with generous foot well space and seat travel to accommodate tall-stature occupants.
Back seat legroom is improved with a courteous forward movement of the front seats. Hip room is wide and comfy front to back.
One visible flaw, be it top up or down, is the large rear head restraints that hinder rear visibility. With the top up, they block one third of the view out the rear window.
Removing the headrests from the back seat when unoccupied erases the rearview obstruction.
Top up touring creates a three-quarter rear blind spot due to the 2013 Beetle Convertible’s wide roofline. However, adjusting the outside mirrors to reflect a wider side view helps eliminate the problem.
Up front, Beetle Convertible’s 2.5-liter five-cylinder base engine delivers 170 horsepower coupled to a six-speed automatic transmission that yields 21 miles per gallon fuel economy around town and 27 mpg on the highway.
An optional 2.0L Turbocharged four-cylinder engine delivers 200 hp with a turbo-diesel powered 2.0L TDI four-cylinder version with available six-speed manual transmission that generates 140 hp and 37 mpg highway fuel economy.
Base price for the 2013 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible starts at $24,995 followed by the turbocharged model for $27,795. Beetle TDI versions up the ante to $27,895. Add $795 across the board for freight.