2013 VW Beetle Convertible blends retro, modern styles

The 2013 Volkswagen Beetle loses a bit of its masculine edge with the removal of its top, but still retains its fun-loving character.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Josh Miller/CNET

'70s Edition

Our review car was a special '70s Edition that was fully loaded with tech and featured this handsome Toffee Brown Metallic paint. The interior is trimmed in beige leatherette, and chrome dish wheels finish off the look.

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2.5-liter engine

The 2.5-liter engine features good low-end torque, but runs out of steam at higher rpms, making the Beetle more a cruiser than a sprinter.

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Six-speed automatic transmission

The only gearbox option available at this trim level is a conventional six-speed automatic transmission with Sport and manual shift programs.

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Front-wheel drive

Power and torque meet the road via the front wheels. The 18-inch wheels are shod in enough rubber to smooth out the Beetle's ride while still offering responsive handling.

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Profile

With its fabric top in place, the Beetle's profile isn't nearly as flat-topped as the coupe variant.

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Foldaway roof

With the touch of a button, the motorized roof swiftly folds away.

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Rear visibility

The roof creates noticeable blind spots at the rear corners of the vehicle, but the large rear window makes parallel parking easy enough. Fortunately, I didn't spend too much time with the Beetle's top up.

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Folded fabric

The top doesn't really fold away. Rather it collects neatly in a pile at the back of the passenger compartment. I'm not a fan of this look, but more importably the roof somewhat inhibits rear visibility.

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Vinyl cover

Our tester came with a cover that can be used to clean up the appearance of the stowed top. However, I found fitting the cover to be more trouble than it was worth.

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Flexing chassis

With the top up, driving over downtown San Francisco's lunar-surface roads, I was disappointed to hear the top's weather seals creaking against the glass windows. This tells me that VW has allowed a bit of chassis flex in the tublike Beetle Convertible.

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Open-air relaxation

However, the Beetle's engine and personality encourage a more casual, relaxed driving style.

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Trunk space

The Beetle Convertible doesn't offer very much trunk space at all. We were only able to cram half of an adult back there.

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Interior

The '70s Edition Beetle's beige interior features body color-matched panels on its dashboard.

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Fender audio system

The Fender audio system is still one of the best-sounding affordable premium audio systems I've tested. Feed it rock with a thumping kick drum and listening to music becomes a tactile experience.

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Handling and steering

The Beetle's steering is comfortable and relaxed, but the convertible is still agile enough to hustle down a country back road at a decent clip.

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Instrumentation

The three-gauge instrument cluster with its large speedometer puts only the information relevant to the driver up front.

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RNS 315 infotainment

The RNS 315 infotainment system is simple and easy to understand. Touch sensitivity and physical controls are redundant, giving drivers the choice of two interaction methods.

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Digital audio sources

Available audio sources include USB/iPod playback via the MMI connection, an SD card slot, an auxiliary analog input, AM/FM radio, SiriusXM satellite radio, and a single-CD player.

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Hands-free calling

Bluetooth hands-free calling is also standard on the Volkswagen Beetle Convertible '70s Edition. Contacts in the synced address book are accessible via voice command at the touch of a button.

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Bluetooth connectivity

That Bluetooth connection is also capable of streaming audio from a compatible smartphone or audio player.

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Navigation without traffic

The RNS 315's navigation system is responsive and easy to understand, but does not feature even rudimentary traffic data integration.

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Seating for four

The compact VW features seating for four passengers with more room in its second row than the Mini Cooper Convertible.

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Wind deflector option

Our tester was equipped with a $600 wind deflector. I wouldn't bother with it.

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Fast friends

Despite its flaws, the 2013 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible and I were fast friends thanks to the awesome stereo and relaxed top-down driving characteristics. I also liked the way the approachable Beetle made strangers feel comfortable walking up and asking about the car.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Josh Miller/CNET
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