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Review: 2013 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible Turbo

Saturday October 12th, 2013 at 8:1010 AM
Posted by: D.Colman

By David Colman

Hypes: Kal Kustom Leather, Turbo Scoot
Gripes: Annoying Trunk Release, Poor Top-Up Vision

The latest Beetle may look like the familiar face you’ve known forever, but don’t be fooled by appearances. First of all, this Beetle is built in Puebla, Mexico rather than Wolfsburg, Germany. Although clothed in sheet metal designed to deceive you into thinking this is a rear-engine, rear–wheel-drive derivative of Dr. Porsche’s original 1930s design, the second generation New Beetle (Newer Beetle?) is in actuality a front-engine, front-wheel-drive Golf GTI successfully masquerading as a very Old Beetle. Thus, you can validate your nostalgia quotient for traditional VW values without sacrificing comfort or performance to outdated (rear-engine, air-colled) engineering principles.

Under the front hood of this diminutive convertible lies the same turbocharged 4 cylinder engine you find in so many VW and Audi family products today. When VW stopped producing their jewel-like V-6 motor several years back, the 2 liter turbo became the default GTI engine. Now, with direct injection, it’s found its way into the turbo Convertible, where it produces 210hp, 207 lb.-ft. of torque, and returns overall fuel consumption of 24 MPG. Coupled to a delightfully responsive set of 6 closely spaced ratios in the manual transmission, the Beetle Convertible will scald back road apexes with nearly the same aplomb as a GTI. Although the Convertible gives up some structural rigidity to the hardtop GTI, the loss is hardly discernible when you’re close to the limit of adhesion. The fat contact patches of standard 235/45R18 Hankook Optimo H426 tires help this drop-top stay planted through the twisties.

VW has done a commendable job of fettling the convertible with appropriate go-fast hardware. Five spoke alloy rims, which look like updated versions of the classic Porsche Fuchs wheel, decorously display the low profile Hankook tires. Inside the cabin, the aluminum brake, clutch and throttle pedals provide rubber strips for better adhesion. The matte aluminum of the pedal faces match the same trim used on the instrument cluster face, the door grab handles and latches, and the trim ring surrounding the shift mechanism. A carbon fiber emulation faces the dash front, while matte pebbled vinyl surfaces the dash top and door panels. Piano black plastic door panel tops add some 40s era pizzazz to the interior, but the real star is the stunning, bi-color seating. The front buckets feature wide whale ribbed red leather seating surfaces set off by black leather bolsters on all sides. As a finishing touch, VW trims the black bolsters with double stitched red thread. The rear buckets match the fronts. The net effect is jaw dropping, especially considering that all this custom tailoring is part of the base package.

You can tuck a couple of adults into those rear buckets, and they won’t mind the crowded leg room so much if the top is down. But the rear seats produce claustrophobia when the heavily padded top is up. The small back side windows and rear glass panel also inhibit vision and make parking a chore with top up. Those of you who recall the days when English roadsters like the MG and Triumph came fitted with tonneau covers will get a kick out of discovering the same archaic piece in the Convertible’s trunk. It’s designed to hide the roof apparatus when the top is down. It takes a good 5 minutes to install, and will bring back fond memories of an earlier era of motoring.

At $32,665 delivered, the Beetle Convertible represents solid value, GTI-level driving fun. It also admits you to an enthusiastic ownership group that sets VW apart from any other car company. This Beetle is guaranteed to put a smile on your face. How many cars can do that?

2013 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible Turbo

  • Engine: 2.0 liter inline 4, Direct Injection, Turbocharged
  • Horsepower: 210hp
  • Torque: 207 lb.-ft.
  • Fuel Consumption: 21 MPG City/30 MPG Highway
  • Price as Tested: $32,665
  • Star Rating: 9 out of 10 Stars

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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 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 Convertible Review

Saturday December 8th, 2012 at 8:1212 AM
Posted by: D.Colman

By David Colman

Hypes: Faster Than a Speeding Train, Able to Leap Tall Investment Hurdles
Gripes: Automatic Tranny Tends to Hunt For Upper Gears at Steady Speed

To give you some idea of how rare this car will someday be, my test Camaro, finished in Silver Ice Metallic, and built in June of 2012, carried a VIN number whose last 5 digits read 00081. A VIN Number that low borders on prototype/pre-production status. It’s hard to top that for rarity! And better yet, at $65,800, this Camaro is also a stunning bargain. If you’re young enough to park it in a garage and wait 30 years to sell it at the Barrett-Jackson Auction in 2043, you can plan on harvesting more than a quarter million bucks for this super Chevy. Why? Because history dictates that ZL1 Camaros from the late 60s are worth at least that much today, and there’s no reason to expect future financial performance will differ from the accepted norm.

The 580hp supercharged ZL1 is a stellar performance car, one that will gradually disappear from the scene as government-imposed 54MPG dictates sound the death knell of 14MPG ground pounders like the ZL1. But it’s not too late to enjoy the ultimate in musclecar status if you act now. The ZL1 is available as a coupe or a convertible. The coupe is lighter and stiffer than the convertible, but the convertible will be the more valuable investment in the long run because GM will build fewer of them since its base price is $5,450 more expensive than the coupe. Personally, I would elect to buy the coupe for its better handling, but I have to admit that the convertible I drove made a stout case for a drop top.

 

For one thing, it’s so much easier to see out the back when the top is down. The stylistic limitations to visibility of the latest 5th generation Camaro mean it’s difficult to see anything in back of you in the coupe, or in the convertible when the top is up. Luckily, the week I spent with the ZL1 was clear and warm enough to leave the top down most of the time. Once you’ve swiveled a header latch handle open, the rest of the job is automatic. Although you don’t need to use it, Chevy fits a nicely fabricated folding tonneau cover which gives the car a finished look and takes only 3 minutes to fit.

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2012 Volvo C70 Inscription Convertible Review

Monday July 23rd, 2012 at 3:77 PM
Posted by: D.Colman

By David Colman

For: Starkly Handsome, Subtle, Quick
Against: Trunk Closure Difficulties, Fingertip Steering Effort

This C70 has more facets to its personality than a Hearts On Fire diamond. The Inscription package blesses it with an uprated 250hp motor that yearns to power a sportscar. The full leather interior confers Bentleyesque riches on its inhabitants. And the upgrade is endearingly subtle. Only the black leather headrests are inscribed in black thread with the phrase “Inscription.” Nowhere else does the phrase appear. Not even the tail of the C70 carries any such “Inscription” notation.

The 2.5 liter, 5 cylinder turbo engine jumps from the standard C70 output of 227hp and 236 lb.-ft. of torque to 250hp and 273 lb.-ft. of torque. That’s a hefty 10% gain in both departments. Instead of the C70’s standard 17 inch rims, Inscription brings you 18 inch “MDIR” gloss black and stainless-spoked appliances shod with ContiProContact 235/40R18 tires. “Active” dual Xenon headlights, which pivot in the direction of your turn, brilliantly illuminate the night. Volvo adds aluminum pedals, plus aluminum inserts to the sport steering wheel rim. A gloss black grill matches the finish of the alloy wheels. Chrome trimmed daytime running light pods add the only note of bling to the otherwise somber exterior. The C70 Inscription is understated to a fault, but inarguably handsome in the Swedish minimalist way.

 

The driving experience is all over the map. The lively special tuning of the motor propels the C70 with enough authority to keep any BMW 3 Series in sight on a twisty road. But you’ll have to work harder than the Bimmer driver because the Conti tires break loose early in a turn and insist on squealing through apexes. The C70 steering is too light to be informational. Steering feedback is so weightless, that you might think you’re driving a ’58 Buick. While the chassis itself is so stiff it can traverse railroad tracks at 60mph without a squeak or deflection, springing and shocks are so soft that the ingot-like body squirms on bump compression.

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2012 Infiniti G Convertible Review

Friday April 27th, 2012 at 10:44 AM
Posted by: D.Colman

By David Colman

For: Hard-Edged Driver’s Package
Against: Goofy Top-Down Trunk Space

Even in Vibrant Red, Infiniti’s G37 Convertible looks innocuous enough to be confused with other low boiling point drop tops like Chrysler’s 200, VW’s Eos and Volvo’s C70. But unlike that trio of rather lethargic performers, the G is more wolf than sheep because it’s based on the Nissan 370Z, its hereditary brother. Thus, when you’re feeling the urge to crank on the speed, the G Convertible is more than up to the task because it shares its 3.7 liter V6 with Nissan’s ultra-quick 2-seat Z car. The G’s standard 7-speed automatic gearbox insures there’s a cog for every situation. Finding the right one is as easy as blipping the elephant-ear sized magnesium paddles fitted to the steering column (not the wheel), or popping the floor-mounted stick fore and aft. When dropping down a gear, you’ll instantly slot into the appropriate lower gear set, thanks to rev-matching throttle blips provided automatically on each downshift.

YouTube Preview ImageInfiniti G Sport Convertible Automatic Review. This video is brought to you by Drivin’Ivan

If you opt for the $1,700 Sport Package, 19 inch alloys replace the standard 18 inch wheels. Ultra-sticky Bridgestone RE050A tires (225/45R19 front, 245/40R19 rear) mounted on smoked chrome 19 inch alloys afford excellent bite when cornering hard. Sport brakes and sport-tuned steering further elevate the driving experience. Although the G remains softly suspended for a comfortable ride, the extra body roll in switchback maneuvers never seems to detract from grip level at the Bridgestones’ contact patches. When pressed hard, the normally benevolent G morphs into a surprisingly adept back road tiger. Just be sure to deactivate the Traction Control System (TCS) via a dash-mounted button, located rather inconveniently out of sight left and below the steering column. Otherwise the TCS nanny will interrupt your progress at the most inopportune moments.

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2012 BMW 650i Convertible Review – The all-new 2012 6-series is ready for the red carpet

Tuesday September 20th, 2011 at 9:99 PM
Posted by: D.Colman

2012 BMW 650i Convertible
By David Colman

Likes:

  • Drop Dead Gorgeous Inside and Out
  • More interior space for occupants

Dislikes:

  • Unpredictable Handling at the Limit

BMW has reintroduced the 650i as a 2012 model after a short break in production. Although the coupe will be available shortly, the first version offered is the convertible, which retails for a healthy base price of $90,500. When you add in the slew of options that equipped our test car, the retail price soars to more than $105,000. If you’re looking for beauty and exclusivity, then the revamped 650i is worth the price of admission. But if sports car performance is your aim, then you may want to look elsewhere for your ride.

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2012 Fiat 500 Hatchback Review – Italian movie star on four wheels

Monday July 25th, 2011 at 3:77 PM
Posted by: D.Colman


By David Colman

Likes:

  • Sublime retro design
  • Fuel economy
  • Wow factor

Dislikes:

  • Poor side vision due to fat B-pillar
  • Sunroof shade insufficiently opaque
  • Unnerving dance over grooved concrete

Do you remember when New York’s Museum of Modern Art hung an Olivetti typewriter on a gallery wall and called it art? Before that, they did the same thing with a Cisitalia sportscar. Now they can add the Fiat 500 to their collection of Italian appliances that transcend function to achieve lasting beauty. This diminutive sedan, with which Chrysler hopes to revive the Fiat nameplate in America, is more fetching than a MINI, more stable than a Smart, and more practical than any motorcycle. If you’re hunting down a small package to transport two in comfort or four in pain, the Fiat 500 has got to top your shopping list.

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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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Mercedes-Benz MFA Compact Coupe and SUVs to Hit the U.S. Starting in Summer 2013

Monday January 31st, 2011 at 3:11 PM
Posted by: aquadog

Mercedes-Benz AMG B-ClassDue to the American preference for smaller cars and to keep up with rivals BMW and Audi, Mercedes-Benz announced it will be releasing a new compact car family based on the new Mercedes Front-wheel-drive Architecture (MFA), that will hit the U.S. starting in summer 2013.

The new series will include coupe (“baby CLS”) and SUV versions and possibly a convertible or a shooting brake version geared towards a younger clientele. There will also be two hatchback versions (next generation A- and B-class models) offered in Europe; however, Mercedes has no plans of bringing them to the U.S. unless there is a demand. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Mercedes-Benz, Press and News |Tags:, , , , , , , || 2 Comments »


Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet to Debut at 2010 LA Auto Show

Sunday November 14th, 2010 at 2:1111 PM
Posted by: Derek

2011 Nissan Murano CrossCabrioletDrop-top Drivers Can Now Bring Along 2 Bags of Luggage and their Golf Bags

The world’s first all-wheel drive crossover convertible, delivers the open-air exhilaration of a convertible while extending the versatility of the Murano in exciting new ways. With room for four adults, space for golf bags or luggage (even with the top down), and a premium level interior, the Murano CrossCabriolet represents a breakthrough in concept and design. Set to go on sale in early 2011.

Insider sources close to the project say the 2011 Murano convertible will be produced in limited numbers, and will be targeted at empty-nesters who need room to carry the grandkids, but still want something fun. But the kids will need to pack light, as the current Murano offers just 31.6 cubic feet of cargo capacity, and the convertible mechanism will certainly cut into that space.

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