Roadshow Video Reviews
2013 Volkswagen Beetle ConvertibleThe 2013 Beetle is still a trip back in time, but it's no longer that far back.
The old new beetle wore out its welcome. A QTP retro stick in the Pixar style that wasn't a bad car but was just too much of a wink after a few years, but now with the newest beetle. VW has dropped the word new from new beetle and grown up its lines quite a bit. We end up with a more macho cutie car, not sure the world's better for that or not. Let's find out as we drive the 2013 VW Beetle Cabriolet 70's edition and check the tech. Now when I saw we had a 70's edition, I think it would be fine to bag a grass in the glove box in the hotel of California ain't tracking the dash. Wrong on both counts. Instead, 70's edition, the Volkswagen means this toffee brown color-- no other choice and these wheels which don't [unk] from the 70's to me at all. A nice set of golf BBS RS would do that. Now inside you noticed Beetles got very good materials all around the cabin, color keyed dash plate here. That's a nod of the past to the metallic dash they have in early days. And you also finally got this synthetic leather that I think only the Germans can get it right. They called it v-tecs, the Mercedes folks called their MB Techs. It's particularly good in the convertible because it's very durable but it's got nice leather feel. We've seen this head unit before. The interface is an unmitigated disaster. You rotate through choices or you can touch the screen and reading what's on and what's not. I can't figure it out. However your sources are basically all there. AM/FM. You got your optical disc up here. Satellite radio for 3 months then it's your problem. AUX jacks over here, SD card slot. No hard drive luckily. No iTunes tagging with HD radio. Bluetooth streaming audio as you can see. Good meta tags support at least with my Android phone and while you do have navigation standard on the 70's edition it's small screen. Again the interface makes it a real disaster and what I'd like to use voice command to enter the address to not have to use that. The voice-only works for the Bluetooth calling and even when you do that, the voice command doesn't give you any prompts on the screen for what you could say so you endlessly saying help on memorizing commands. Fail, fail, fail. No Antuan got this car before me and he came back all glowing about the Fender audio. Tell me how great it sounds. I figure he's back into the peach whisky 'cause I've never heard one of these Fender rig sound really very good at all. He was right. This one sounds great for some reason. It does two things really well. First of all, it takes crap sources like streaming Bluetooth fills in the gaps while it makes them sound good. That's quite a trick. Secondly, it's loud enough and clean enough to overcome road noise with the top down without kinda getting out of shape beings screechy, harsh or too bassy. And that's at the flat tone settings, so I was very impressed. The only think I don't like about the sound system is this stupid little thing over here. You can do, let's see, white, blue or red colored light on those rings around the speakers. That's like a page out of the scion playbook. Here's my play call. Pass. Now the Beetle or the Cabrio in top [unk] that means the soft top that folds kind of untidily on the back of the rear of the car and never submerges and has no cover over it. It's not a spider. It's not a retractable. Some would even say it's not a true convertible. Now, if you don't like the untidy look of the top when it's down, VW has been good enough to take up most of the trunk with the world's biggest chunkiest Tonneau cover. I can't believe this thing. Really? You put it up here and you snap it in around the top and the back and the sides. My guess is you still use it exactly three times. Once today you bring the car home to show it off, once today you go on that first nice summer road trip and once today you decide you're sick of this thing and throw it in the garage. Now here in the engine bay there is really nothing in common with the old beetles, the engine is in the front, not the back. It's water-cooled not air-cooled and it makes a nice sound when you step on it instead of starting it like a canary farting, two and a half liter side saddle in line five. It's a real maintenance day VW motor. They put these in Jedda's all day long. Front wheel drive as I mentioned. The numbers are very normal 'cause the technology is real normal. No turbo, no direct injection, none of that real fancy stuff, 170 horse, 177 foot pounds a torque. It's this car 60 and about 8 seconds. It weighs about 3200 pounds, not terribly heavy by today's standards. And 2127 MPG is fine. You'd like it to hit 30 wouldn't you? But it doesn't. The first thing I was struck by on this beetle is that the ride quality is very good and I recalled the one before not being quite as delightful in that respect and the power of this engine is responsive. There's not a ton of it as you can tell from the numbers when it comes on rather quickly in a nice linear fashion because there's not a lot of trickery going on here. I like that. Occasionally, the car will get stuck into higher gear as just about all modern cars do and you'll get a moment of flat-footedness but for the most part in this sport mode just works and it's a well done sport mode but you're in here, it's not too high strong and yet it does weight the car up. Some sport modes are just to frenzy. You can also go to the gate like I showed you. You can shift in a tiptronic mode. I didn't find I needed to. Sport mode nailed it. Now if you want a big grip about the inside of this car, here's where it is. If you look back behind me you might see it. There is really poor visibility out to the right and the back where you often look to your lane change, it's because you got high hit risk back there that big old Cabrio top is piled up behind you and that is really hard to deal with. I'd rather do a lane change [unk] in this guy. Unfortunately, there's no blind spot tech available in this beetle nor is there a rear camera so that all conspires to make it for kind of a tricky car to maneuver. Just keep going forward. All and all, a fun little driver on a nice day, it's a great car. On a crappy day, the exceptional thick quality of the roof also makes it a nice car. Okay. Let's place our beetle Cabrio 70's edition. Real simple story it's 294, period. There are no options at least nothing CNET's style. That's the head unit, that's the audio system. Everything is what it is, it's part of a very tight 70's package. You gotta like this color by the way 'cause there's no changing it either. It's a real nice driving car. It's not a sports car per say but it's got good handling and I was surprised how much I like it to be honest.