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Thus, you can validate your nostalgia quotient for traditional VW values without sacrificing comfort or performance to outdated (rear-engine, air-colled) engineering principles.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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Review: 2013 Volkswagen Beetle TDI

Saturday July 20th, 2013 at 8:77 AM
Posted by: D.Colman

By David Colman

Hypes: Cruise Range Exceptional, Kal Kustom Look
Gripes: Needs Rear Window Wiper and Stiffer Shocks

To give you an idea of just how efficient the new Diesel Beetle is, we round-tripped from Stinson Beach to Soquel (over 200 miles) in a single day, and when we returned home the trip computer indicated that 250 miles of range still remained. Now that’s a prodigious achievement for a small (2,939 lb.) coupe with a modest-sized fuel tank of just 14.5 gallons. Lately, Diesel fuel has dropped in price locally to a point where it’s less expensive than even the cheapest grade of regular gas, so there’s a double incentive to give this new addition to the Beetle line a good hard look. The other reason is that it’s even more fun to drive than the 200hp turbo version of the same car.

The reason is torque. VW offers 3 engines in the Beetle range. The base motor is a decent 5 cylinder unit displacing 2.5 liters and making 170hp. The 2.0 liter, 4 cylinder, 200hp turbo is a somewhat peaky, finicky engine which requires deft shifting to keep in its powerband. But the key to driving enjoyment is torque rather than horsepower, and here, the new 140hp Diesel outdoes its brethren thanks to the wallop of instant scoot it provides the moment you toe the throttle. Compared to the 170 lb.-ft. of the base 5, and the 207 lb.-ft. of the turbo 4, the Diesel makes 236 lb.-ft. of torque. Couple that to the sweetest shifting 6-speed manual you’ve ever operated and you’ve got a combination sure to please. If you’re not into shifting your own gears, the TDI can be ordered with a dual clutch automatic for an additional $1,100.

Aside from this Beetle’s spunky drivetrain, what else recommends the car to you? Thoughtful design and low price. For example, nice touches abound inside the cabin, even in the trunk. In a nifty replication of ‘50s Beetle design, VW cues painted sections of the dashboard, door panels and steering wheel to the car’s exterior color. In the case of our test car, the overflow of the striking Yellow Rush exterior color to interior surfaces turned the TDI into a genuine Kal Kustom show car. On the floor of the spacious trunk, you’ll find an extremely useful series of space dividers called CarGo Blocks. These modular plastic extrusions adhere to a special Heavy Duty Trunk Liner via Velcro connections. When arranged in the shape of a square, these 6 inch high dividers allow you to stabilize cargo in the trunk. It’s such a brilliant idea that it makes you wonder why no one has offered this before. The CarGo Blocks are part of an optional $235 set of 4 “Monster Mats” that also protect the interior floors.

The Beetle is no sports car. It’s so softly sprung that it heels over rather noticeably in corners. But you could easily rectify this problem by swapping out the standard mushy shock absorbers for aftermarket Bilstein or Koni units. Likewise, the adhesion of the standard Hankook Optimo tires (215/55R17) could stand the improvement that a set of stickier Michelins or Pirellis would provide. But even as it sits, straight from the VW factory in Puebla, Mexico, the TDI Beetle is plenty of fun to drive. The steering is amazingly responsive and accurate, and in our two runs over twisty Highway 17 from San Jose to Santa Cruz, the Beetle never drifted wide of an apex or ran out of grunt before cresting the summit. The manually adjustable front seats lent themselves perfectly to day-long stints in the saddle. Visibility is so good in all quarters that freeway lane changes are never problematic. The Beetle has no need of lane change warning devices.

The Beetle TDI is the perfect conveyance for the long haul. You will arrive refreshed and enthusiastic at your destination, and you won’t need to search for a gas station because this Beetle is good for an overall rating of 32 MPG. At a base price of just $23,295, the TDI Beetle is a top entrant in the new crop of elite and affordable rides for 2013.

2013 Volkswagen Beetle TDI

  • Engine: 2.0 liter, inline 4 Diesel
  • Horsepower: 140hp
  • Torque: 236 lb.-ft.
  • Fuel Consumption: 28 MPG City/41 MPG Highway
  • Price as Tested: $24,360
  • 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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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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Featured User Review: 2009 VW Routan Minivan

Friday March 11th, 2011 at 1:33 PM
Posted by: Derek

2009 VW Routan minivan

Reviews by community members are the foundation of CarReview.com. Share your experience with other car owners by writing reviews for your cars, aftermarket parts, and car audio components. You don’t have to be an expert – everyone’s opinion counts.


Featured Review: 2009 Volkswagen Routan SEL w/RSE

by willida

Price Paid: $35,000.00 from Gossett Volkswagen
Review Date:
September 27, 2009
Overall Rating:
5 stars 5 of 5
Value Rating
5 stars 5 of 5
Used product for:
Less than 1 month

Strengths:

  • Entertainment system on the RSE model
  • Three zone automatic climate control
  • Sun shades
  • Best fuel economy in its class
  • Attention to detail, like umbrella tray

Weaknesses:

  • uConnect Bluetooth interface for cell phone sometimes acts badly
  • Hard to back up, even with rear camera, side mirrors and rear window
  • Wish is had one more headphone

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Volkswagen Bulli Conecpt Inspired by Original Microbus

Tuesday March 1st, 2011 at 8:33 AM
Posted by: aquadog

Volkswagen Bulli ConceptA decade after the 2001 Microbus concept, Volkswagen has announced the new reinterpreted Volkswagen Bulli concept, that follows in the footsteps of the orginal Microbus. Debuting at the Geneva Motor Show, the new Bulli has a similar shape to the Microbus with plenty of interior space and measures in at 156 inches long, 68.4 inches wide and 66 inches tall. It will include a 113-horsepower electric motor supplied with energy from a lithium-ion battery pack allowing driving ranges of up to 186.4 miles. This zero emissions vehicle can also be recharged in less than an hour.

The six-seater interior of the Bulli is reminiscent of its ancestors, in that the seat system can be transformed into a large reclining surface. The outer and middle seats of the front bench can be folded down and the rear beach can be completely stowed to increase cargo room. The Bulli will also feature a removable Apple iPad “infotainment control” that controls the stereo, navigation, and Bluetooth.

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Volkswagen Golf R Arriving on American Shores in 2012

Thursday December 9th, 2010 at 8:1212 PM
Posted by: Derek

VW Golf RVW announced Thursday that the diminutive and powerful Golf R is coming to the United States in 2012. Tuned by the in-house R team at Volkswagen, the Golf R should prove more exciting than the current Clark Kent-version sold in the US.

While details like price and launch date remain unknown, Volkswagen did talk about what will separate the R model from the run-o-the-mill Golf. The Golf R gets a tuned up version of the GTI’s 2.0-liter turbo four, though Volkswagen stopped short of indicating how many horses the R will have over the GTI’s 200. In addition to more power, the Golf R gets a sport-tuned ESP, Haldex 4Motion AWD, uprated sport-tuned suspension and bigger brakes. It will only come with a manual.

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New Cars On the Horizon for 2010

Friday January 15th, 2010 at 3:11 PM
Posted by: ggaillard

Lotus EvoraBy Greg Gaillard

If 2009 was a year of uncertainty, manufacturers’ products certainly didn’t show it. Buyers were able to choose from two new class-leading hybrids, a couple of new pony cars and several other creative designs that all pushed the boundaries of their respective segments. Despite the economic downturn with accompanied scrambling for solvency, the trend toward smarter, efficient cars took root and stood firm.

The list below includes exciting new products scheduled for production during calendar year 2010. From the buyer’s perspective many will be worth the wait as they represent new thinking and technology that are expected to carry manufacturers through the industry’s transition to Electric Vehicles (EV) as well as new form factors that suit today’s economy and lifestyle. If 2009′s LA Auto Show is any indication of what to expect in 2010, the trend toward efficiency and driver involvement will continue. And in some cases manufacturers are counting on strong sales to justify new partnerships and changes to old-school business practices. Even more than 2009, 2010 will focus on product first and provide consumers with several choices worth waiting for.

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Posted in BMW, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Feature Articles, Fiat, Ford, Honda, Infiniti, Mazda, Nissan, Volkswagen |Tags:, , , , , , , , , , , , || 6 Comments »


2009 LA Auto Show Focuses on the Future of Small Cars

Wednesday December 16th, 2009 at 3:1212 PM
Posted by: ggaillard

LA Auto Show logoLos Angeles’ Best in Show

By Greg Gaillard

Small, sporty and efficient are back. Overall, the American market continues to drift in the doldrums, but there are signs of life in segments that embrace these values. It’s no accident that during the ‘Cash for Clunkers’ program many of the trades were from large SUVs to much smaller vehicles such as Toyota’s Corolla, Ford’s Focus and Honda’s Civic. People are ready for right size cars and the 2009 LA Auto Show proved that manufacturers are ready to respond with a brace of efficient and exciting choices. If the industry can market these new cars properly, we won’t need another government subsidy to keep people in small and efficient vehicles.

As a show, LA feels like a return to reality from the preceding, concept-heavy Tokyo spectacle. While there were certainly a fair number of concepts at LA, the big news was how manufacturers were positioning themselves to take advantage of trends in the US market. CarReview is happy to report that it’s all good. There will be plenty of green tech to go around and a fair dose of sport to go along with it. Below are some of the highlights:

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Posted in Cadillac, Chevrolet, Ford, Mazda, Porsche, Press and News, Subaru |Tags:, , , , , , , || 2 Comments »


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