2013 Volkswagen Beetle review:

Retro-stylish Beetle ragtop makes people smile

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The result is absolutely gorgeous and garnered many unsolicited compliments whenever I stopped the Convertible within earshot of passersby. (There's just something about being in a Beetle that makes people comfortable striking up random conversations.)

The '70s Edition isn't just a paint and leather package, it also loads the Beetle up with every tech and comfort option worth having.

In the dash, you'll find VW's RNS 315 navigation system, which we've seen in other VW models ranging from the Golf to the CC to the Beetle itself. The touch-screen navigation system is simple and effective, featuring large physical buttons flanking the display with shortcuts to the various modes of operation. The navigation portion of this infotainment system is responsive when searching for POIs and quick about pathfinding routes, but didn't feature even rudimentary traffic data.

Audio sources include Bluetooth for hands-free calling and audio streaming, an SD card slot on the dashboard for digital-media playback, an auxiliary input, an AM/FM radio, a single-slot CD player, and SiriusXM Satellite Radio tuning. The Beetle is also equipped with VW/Audi's MMI media connection, which combines a USB port and a 30-pin Apple dock connector into one weird proprietary mess. iPhone 5 users will have to use an adapter of some sort. Hopefully, VW's next generation will standardize on a simple USB port like the rest of the industry.

Audio input is then output through the previous Car Tech-award-winning Fender audio system. With eight cabin speakers and a powered subwoofer, this is one of the best-sounding and most affordable premium audio systems that we've tested. Feed it hip-hop or honking electronica and it sounds good. Feed it anything with a thumping drum kick and it sounds amazeballs.

Fender audio via Instagram
The Fender stereo system is one of our favorite premium audio rigs. Antuan Goodwin

The 2013 Volkswagen Beetle's tech doesn't do a whole lot past playing your music and giving you directions. There's no connected Web searching for destinations, no fancy 3D maps, and I'm all right with that. Too much tech wouldn't be very '70s, would it?

The 2013 Beetle Convertible is also available in '50s and '60s Editions featuring different color schemes, engine options, and cabin amenities.

Fiddly bits
Our 2013 Beetle Convertible's trunk contained what feels like a vinyl cover that can be fitted over the folded cloth roof for a cleaner look, but the fitting can be a bit complicated. It took two Car Tech editors and a photographer no fewer than 15 minutes to get the cover, which installs with a combination of clips and friction, fitted for the photo shoot. Subsequent installations and removals were much quicker, but still averaged about 5 minutes of tugging and tucking.

Also in the trunk was a mesh windscreen with a 90-degree bend that both covers the rear seats to prevent light items, such as papers, from blowing away at speed and reduces the amount of wind hitting front-seat passengers. This was considerably easier to install, but required a bit of folding and unfolding in the right order to get fitted behind the rear seats. This and the roof cover are nice touches, but the benefits are outweighed by the inconvenience and both items remained stowed in the Beetle Convertible's tiny trunk for the duration of testing.

In sum
The 2013 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible starts at $24,995 -- not a bad price for a stylish convertible with a good balance of performance, efficiency, and comfort. If not as sharp and quick as, say, VW's own GTI, the Beetle convertible is an approachable car that's relaxing and fun to drive. The type of fun here isn't the shaving seconds off of lap times kind of fun, but the rolling along in my automobile with no particular place to go kind of fun, even on a chilly evening with the top down and the heated seats maxed out.

All of that said, I believe that ultimately the Beetle is about style: either you like its cutesy, faux-retro style or you don't.

2013 VW Beetle Convertible
The metallic-brown Beetle turned heads everywhere I took it. Antuan Goodwin/CNET

For fans of "1970s" style, the thump-thump of a great stereo, and -- perhaps most importantly -- sweet brown cars, our '70s Edition example rolls in pretty much everything you could possibly want in the Beetle Convertible (short of the 2.0T engine and DSG gearbox) for $28,595. Add $600 for the wind deflector that we ended up not using (and you likely won't either) and $795 in destination charges to reach our as-tested price of $29,990.

The only alternative that springs to mind when looking at the VW Beetle Convertible is the Mini Cooper S Convertible, which, aside from being slightly overpriced, is a much smaller car with a (frankly) useless back seat. However, the Mini is a much more fun ride when the road gets twisty and its compact size becomes an advantage in the cramped quarters of a major city like San Francisco; see also the Fiat 500C.

Tech specs
Model 2013 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible
Trim '70s Edition
Power train 2.5-liter, 5-cylinder, 6-speed automatic transmission with Sport and manual shift programs
EPA fuel economy 21 city, 27 highway, 23 combined mpg
Observed fuel economy n/a
Navigation Yes, no traffic
Bluetooth phone support Yes with audio streaming
Disc player Single-slot CD
MP3 player support Standard analog 3.5mm auxiliary input, USB connection, Bluetooth audio streaming, iPod connection, SD card slot
Other digital audio SiriusXM Satellite Radio
Audio system Fender premium audio, 8 speakers plus powered subwoofer
Driver aids n/a
Base price $24,995
Price as tested $29,990

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