2013 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible ‘70s Review

Thursday February 7th, 2013 at 8:22 AM
Posted by: D.Colman

By David Colman

For: ‘70s Package Handsome and Brilliantly Conceived
Against: For More Grunt Go TDI or Turbo

Leave it to those kooky imagineers at VW to come up with yet another celebratory sales concept no one’s thought of before. This latest brainstorm marks the reintroduction of the Convertible to the redone Beetle model line that debuted last year. Of course, VW product planners weren’t content to offer just any old drop top when they could instead trot out 3 specific models that celebrate the long and storied history of this topless small wonder. The tasty trio pays homage to 3 decades in which VW produced Convertible Beetles. The ‘50s edition is black with a tan interior, while the ‘60s version is Denim Blue with groovy two-tone seats. The ‘70s Beetle, subject of this test, is Toffee Brown, with tan interior and perfectly vintage looking chrome disc alloys measuring 8” x 18” mounting Hankook Optimo 235/45R18 rubber. The exterior color – let’s call it BeeGees Brown – also covers interior dashboard panels. With its matching brown fabric roof, the ‘70s Convertible is understated but stunning.

You can order your VW Convertible with either the 2.5 liter inline 5, the TDI diesel, or the turbo 2.0 liter inline 4. VW equipped our test car with the 2.5 liter engine, which is available only with a 6-speed automatic transmission. Due to the very high rpm required by the 5 to achieve peak power (170hp at 5,700rpm) , this engine does not produce scintillating zip. The straight 5 is, however, perfect if you’re looking to reproduce the acceleration nostalgia of a vintage VW Convertible. Personally I would opt for either the diesel, which makes 140hp and 236 lb.-ft. of torque, or the turbo, which posts 200hp and 207 lb,-ft. of torque.

The Convertible’s top is so soundly constructed that there’s no wind noise whatsoever when it’s raised. Attribute the quiet to the fact that the top’s exterior fabric shell consists of 3 different layers covering 3 more layers of insulation plus a molded foam laminated fabric headliner. The only drawback to the raised top is the lack of rear vision it causes. You need to be very careful when backing a Convertible Beetle out of a parking slot. Of course, you could always drop the top for a better look back, as it takes only 9.5 seconds to stow it and 11 more seconds to erect it.

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2013 Volkswagen CC Sport Review

Wednesday January 2nd, 2013 at 8:11 AM
Posted by: D.Colman

By David Colman

Hypes: Wow Factor Looks, German Quality Build
Gripes: Cottony Clutch, Pointy Rear Door Edges

Seven years ago, when VW introduced the CC, I tested one for a week in Boston. My week with the car expired early when I left it parked overnight – apparently with the lights on – and came back to find the battery dead. Now a dead battery would not normally present more of a problem than the need for a jump start, but once restarted, the CC failed to recharge its battery, died again, and had to be towed away. My mistake was to park the car without switching the headlight control off. This is a 3-position switch with Off, On and Auto offered as choices. Most cars take care of this common oversight by automatically cutting power to the headlight circuit after a specified time interval, a feature not shared by that early production CC. So I performed a little test on this latest CC to se if VW had rectified the problem. I left the headlights on, shut the door and returned 20 minutes later to find the high beams still blazing away. Ironically enough, for 2013, VW equips the CC with a Lighting Package that includes rows of LED bulbs that line the headlight nacelles and help drain the battery faster than ever before when that switch is left on. Seven years, no change in circuitry. Buyer beware.

Other than this switch glitch, the CC is a very good deal at $31,430. At that price, you’ll get the 4 cylinder version, with direct injection and turbocharging good for 200hp and 207 lb.-ft. of torque. If you desire more oomph, a 280hp V6 is available, but not strictly necessary in terms of performance. Certainly, the turbo 4 is strong enough to light the front tires when you pop the clutch on the 6-speed manual gearbox.

 

The manual transmission, which is unavailable on the V6, turns the CC into something of a sports sedan, with closely spaced ratios and short throws resulting in lots of driving pleasure. Unfortunately, the clutch on our 7,000 mile test vehicle had apparently seen enough abuse in its past to cause its engagement point to vary widely, from just off the floorboard to the top of pedal travel. This in turn lead to uncertainty when making hill starts and stoplight getaways. Even with this drawback, the 6-speed CC was infinitely more entertaining to drive than that rather staid paddle shift automatic V6 in Boston.
The Lighting Package includes an “Adaptive Front Lighting System” which is perfect for improving night vision on twisting roads as the headlight beams swivel from side to side in tune with the movements of the steering wheel. From an ergonomic standpoint, the interior of the CC is close to perfect. The handsomely tailored front seats cradle you like a hammock. The equally comfortable rear seats allow passengers to slouch instead of sitting bolt upright. In addition, the rears split at 60/40 and fold flat, enabling transport of bulky items. The fit and finish of the CC, which is built in Emden, Germany, is second to none. The dash, door panels and center stack are pleasantly understated in matte aluminum trim. Stitching is precise, joints meet with Euclidian perfection, and the CC generally looks like it costs twice as much as it does.

Although the moniker “SPORT” is part of this CC’s name, you’d want to do some suspension and tire work before tackling any really demanding backroads. The CC is very softly sprung, and tends to heel dramatically in corners when pressed hard. The shock absorbers are valved to favor ride comfort over jounce control, and the all-season Continental ContiProContact tires (235/45R17) are high on wear but low on grip. Though the CC may look the part of a sizzling sports sedan, the underpinnings need some work if you want to keep those BMWs in sight.

Looks are what will sell this car. Without question, the CC remains a fresh styling exercise that is scads more vibrant, sleek and svelte than any other VW on the road.

2013 Volkswagen CC Sport

  • Engine: 2.0 Liter inline 4, Direct Injection and Turbocharged
  • Horsepower: 200hp
  • Torque: 207 lb.-ft.
  • Fuel Consumption: 21 MPG City/32 MPG Highway
  • Price as Tested: $31,430
  • Star Rating: 8 out of 10 Stars

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2012 Volkswagen Golf R 4-Door Review

Monday November 26th, 2012 at 10:1111 AM
Posted by: D.Colman

By David Colman

Hypes: Incredibly Quick and Agile, Best Ever Seats
Gripes: Annoying Audio Pre-Sets

After a hiatus of 4 years, VW has reintroduced the R brand Golf to their model lineup for 2012. Formerly called the R32, the name has been shortened to R because the 3.2 liter V6 which propelled the R32 has been discarded in favor of a turbo 2.0 liter inline 4. The new motor, which the Golf shares with Audi’s TT, produces 256hp and 243 lb.-ft. of torque. The R32’s larger displacement V6 actually made less horsepower (250) and torque (236) than the current motor as well as being considerably thirstier. The R posts fuel economy figures of 19 MPG City, 27 MPG Highway versus 18/23 for the V6.

The new R doesn’t look like a killer econobox from the outside. Rather, in practical 4-door form, it pretty much resembles other members of the 6th generation Golf family which debuted in 2010. Aside from a couple of very discreet “R” badges on the front grill and rear hatch lid, and a set of subtly contoured 18 inch alloy wheels, the R looks like nothing more than an ordinary GTI. But under the skin, drivetrain variations make the R such a compelling performer that your jaw will drop in surprise. For starters, the R replaces the Golf’s understeering front-wheel-drive with 4MOTION all-wheel-drive. The system’s constant analysis of traction requirements allocates power from side to side and front to rear with such equanimity that understeer is eliminated.

The wallop of the turbocharged direct injection engine is explosive above 4000rpm. Below that figure, you’ll experience a very slight turbo lag as the boost builds, but with a little throttle planning, and judicious use of the 6-speed manual transmission’s well-spaced ratios, the R will score passes and dart through traffic like a 400hp musclecar. Best of all, it will go about its business in such an inconspicuous way that its ferocious progress will go virtually unnoticed. Except by its driver, who will be thrilled every time the accelerator is flattened.

 

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2012 Volkswagen Beetle Turbo Review

Wednesday May 2nd, 2012 at 11:55 AM
Posted by: D.Colman

YouTube Preview Image

By David Colman

For: Blatantly idiosyncratic appearance, Porsche 911-look alloys
Against: Jerky DSG gearbox, Limited use rear seat

VW has gone to great lengths to distinguish this 21st Century Beetle from its immediate predecessor, the 20th Century New Beetle. The New Beetle hit the market in 1998, and has had a very successful sales run for the past 13 years. Now, the Newest Beetle debuts as a 2012 model available in 2 versions, base (with 2.5 liter, 5 cylinder engine) and Turbo (with 2.0 liter inline turbo 4). Although eventually, 5 and 6 speed manual transmissions will be offered, first deliveries of both models will include the extra cost DSG automatic gearbox. The base model so equipped retails for $24,495, while the Turbo lists for $27,495.

Our test Turbo Beetle also included leather seat coverings, navigation and sunroof, options which boosted delivery price to $29,865. While the loaded, DSG-equipped Beetle is not limited to the one per center crowd, it’s hardly the People’s Car it once was touted to be. Is a $30,000 Beetle worth the money? On looks alone, it definitely is. This one, especially when finished in red, is an eyeball magnet in a sea of Jelly Bellies. If you don’t want attention, do not buy a Turbo Beetle. The latest version looks like a New Beetle that’s been flattened by a brick. A couple of years ago, a line of diminutive toy cars called Fat Boyz was popular with the Hot Wheels crowd, and this Turbo looks just like one of those intriguing caricatures. It’s been significantly recontoured to the tune of 3.3 inches of extra width, 6 inches of extra length and half an inch less height. Instead of the New Beetle’s tiresomely cute 3 arch design, the new Turbo’s flapjack proportions look more menacing than cute. The substantial rear wing, flattened roofline, laid back windshield angle, and porky 18 inch alloys make the new Turbo look like something George Barris would have done to the old one.

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2012 Volkswagen Passat 2.5 SEL Review

Wednesday February 15th, 2012 at 11:22 AM
Posted by: D.Colman

By David Colman

Pros: Immaculate construction, Spacious, Handsome
Cons: Underpowered, Niggling mirror controls, Loose rear arm-rest pass-thru cover

The long-awaited, built-in-USA Passat is finally here, imported from Chattanooga, TN. VW hasn’t built anything on our shores since they closed the Westmoreland, PA Rabbit factory back in the early 80s. So the newly reborn Passat, much larger than the car it replaces, not only carries a lot of baggage in its commodious, 15.9 cubic foot trunk, but some ancillary “baggage” concerning its domestic derivation. Is the new Passat a legitimate VW in terms of fit, finish and quality? The answer is an unqualified yes. If you can find any trace of sloppiness in construction, any evidence of mismatched panels, or cheap material, please let me know, because my persnickety analysis led me to conclude that the Tennessee Passat is every bit as good as anything VW builds in Germany. Panel gaps are consistently slight, doors thunk with customary VW certainty, interior switchgear and fabric appear to be of the highest quality. In fact, Passat construction is so sound and tight that the end product is reminiscent of much more expensive VWs of yore like the W8 sedan and the $100,000 Phaeton.

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2011 Volkswagen Routan Review – Not quite a Eurovan, but better than its American counterpart

Wednesday July 6th, 2011 at 7:77 AM
Posted by: D.Colman

2011 Volkswagen Routan
By contributing editor David Colman

Likes:

  • More utilitarian than a Swiss Army Knife
  • Better looking, better handling than a Chrysler T&C

Dislikes:

  • AWD model would be nice
  • When is the real VW minivan coming?

My Calla Lilly white VW Routan was gaining on the similarly white Chrysler Town & Country in the adjacent freeway lane. As we both hit the same bumpy overpass, the Chrysler van bounded up and down like a porpoise at Marine World. My Routan, on the other hand, dealt with the bump like a European sportscar: one quickly snubbed upward movement followed by one quickly snubbed downward movement. In a nutshell, that routine defines the Routan and distinguishes it from the domestic sibling upon which it is based, the Chrysler Town & Country.

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2012 Volkswagen Eos Lux Review – Cabriolet reborn

Friday June 17th, 2011 at 10:66 AM
Posted by: berrichondanny

2012 Volkswagen Eos
By Danny Chang

Pros:

  • Surprisingly fast acceleration
  • Revised styling is more sophisticated
  • Refined interior & build quality

Cons:

  • Proportions are a bit awkward with the top up
  • Automatic hardtop takes patience
  • Small trunk space

The last time I even thought about a VW convertible was in high school drooling over the hot blonde cheerleader with a white ’87 Rabbit-based Cabriolet with a matching canvas top. So when my editor called about the Eos I was conflicted. It brought back some fun high school memories but I also had to decide whether I was man enough to drive a chick car. I’m glad I said yes. The Eos represents the top end of the VW convertible line-up, capping the range that will start with the new Beetle soft top and the upcoming Euro-only(for now) 2012 Golf Cabrio soft top. The new VW Eos Lux was fun to drive with the top up or down. Usually the mid-cycle model refresh is focused mostly on the innards with just minor exterior updates, but the 2012 VW Eos received a fairly significant face-lift, and it is all the better for it. Gone are the roundish headlights with the vertically-stretched chrome grille with matching round taillights, and in are the new VW corporate looks both on the front and back. The new design is more sophisticated and less cutesy than the original Eos. The 2.0 turbo four carries over mated to a 6-speed automatic with Tiptronic and Sport mode.

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Volkswagen is Proud to Present the Sportiest, Most Fuel-Efficient Beetle Ever

Monday April 18th, 2011 at 7:44 AM
Posted by: ponycargirl

2012 VW Beetle ©Megan Green

Automotive Icon Gets a Major 21st Century Update

Volkswagen had the glow of a proud papa announcing the 2012 Volkswagen Beetle at the New York International Auto Show today. Looking to shed its feminine demeanor, VW redesigned the Beetle with the aim at attracting a more masculine audience. Gone is the flower vase that used to occupy the center dashboard area and the cavernous roof area. The revamped version gets some exterior tweaks that lend it a more sporty and dynamic look.

Volkswagen was quoted saying that the new Beetle is “longer, wider and lower, giving a more masculine and dynamic appearance.”

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40 MPG Cars – Affordable and Fuel Efficient

Tuesday March 29th, 2011 at 12:33 PM
Posted by: aquadog

2011 Chevy CruzeWith fuel prices continually rising, 40+ mpg cars are looking like a great option for consumers who can’t afford or don’t want hybrid technology. Without breaking the bank, these affordable fuel efficient cars range from $15,000 to about $20,000 and all provide 40 mpg or more highway mpg driving. Companies that have joined the 40-mpg club are Ford, Honda, Kia, Mazda, Hyundai, Chevrolet, and Smart.

Automakers are achieving the 40 mpg mark by using lighter-weight materials, modern gasoline powered engines with direct injection and six-speed automatic transmissions along with additional fuel-saving technologies such as low-rolling-resistance tires.

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2011 Volkswagen Touareg VR6 Sport Review

Wednesday March 23rd, 2011 at 10:33 AM
Posted by: mash

By Mary Ellen Ash

Yays:

  • Well laid-out, high quality interior
  • Clean and uncluttered console area
  • Quiet and refined ride with sporty handling
  • Permanent All-Wheel Drive

Nays:

  • Very few and relatively minor
  • A little pricey compared with other top brand models

It happened on a dark and very stormy night. I was driving through the puddle infested, super windy freeway much faster than I should have, because it felt no different than if the conditions had been ideal. While most drivers decided to stay off the roads that night, my Touareg assured me with its warm bear-like hug that everything would be okay. And isn’t that why we all want an SUV?

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