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2013 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible - First Drive

Dropping the top on VW's new Bug

Ezekiel Wheeler
Jun 18, 2013

The lower roofline, wider track and longer wheelbase make the revised 2013 Beetle Convertible more attractive than ever. Finally, a New Beetle VW can count on men to buy... they hope. The previous Beetle did a great job of appealing to women, while men avoided it like the plague.

02 2013 volkswagen beetle convertible top up driver side front view Photo 2/6   |   2013 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible - First Drive

During its debut at the 2012 Los Angeles Auto Show, Volkswagen introduced three tribute models with coordinated color and trim packages to honor the golden eras of the Beetle; the '50s, '60s and '70s. They also showed the Convertible with its new TDI powerplant as well as the Turbo and 2.5L options. It's hoped these attractive options will bring more buyers into showrooms.

Yet despite the old school trim options, VW threw out the bubbly personality of the previous car when designing this model. It was replaced by a toned body and raked silhouette to give the Bug more attitude. Being lower, wider and longer than before, with the cloth soft-top erected we felt the new car was far more appealing than before.

The three available engine options include the standard 2.5-liter inline five-cylinder (170hp, 177 lb-ft,), 2.0L four-cylinder turbo (200hp, 207 lb-ft) and the 2.0L four-cylinder TDI (140hp, 236 lb-ft). Each is available with either an automatic DSG transmission or a six-speed manual. Yes, even the TDI will be offered with a manual!

03 2013 volkswagen beetle convertible headrests Photo 3/6   |   2013 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible - First Drive

Inside, you find the coupe's cabin. It's familiar, yet a progressive step forward from the clichéd retro-design of the last generation. The vase is finally gone, while a heavy-hitting sound system is included, along with carbon fiber-embossed leatherette bucket seats in the Turbo model we drove.

The auxiliary gauges are positioned in the center of the dash with an evil red glow teasing you to push the car harder.

The roof opens in a quick 9.5sec and can be activated while traveling at up to 31mph. The split-folding rear seats allow more cargo room, although the trunk is reasonably large for a convertible - it even has a special storage space for the optional wind screen attachment.

During our drive along the picturesque Pacific Coast Highway from Santa Monica to Malibu, CA we got behind the wheel of both the Turbo and TDI models with DSG - the manuals were sadly taken.

We were also disappointed that the traditionally sunny coastline was blanketed in mist and steady rain throughout the day. So the top remained up for the majority of our trip, only experiencing the rapid retractable roof time near the end of our drive.

04 2013 volkswagen beetle convertible interior Photo 4/6   |   2013 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible - First Drive

Heading into Malibu's famous canyons, the Beetle Turbo gave us the throttle response and powerband we wanted for the tight and demanding roads. However, the TDI pulled you along well enough, relying on its superb low-end torque to shoot you out of each turn. Surprisingly, the DSG was rather sluggish on the diesel application, seeming to hesitate before enacting your input either through the paddle shifters or simply pressing the throttle pedal harder. Whether this was software programming or simply a consequence of this powertrain option, we found the response was substantially better in the more spritely Turbo model. However, it's worth remembering the TDI model is 68 lb heavier than the Turbo, which is an additional factor. It also appears that the Convertible Turbo is 180 lb heavier than the hardtop model, while the TDI is 260 lb heavier than its coupe equivalent.

The stock suspension inevitably has some compliance, which caused a degree of "floating" at higher speeds. When cornering, the body also rolls and pitches slightly, yet the car holds its line well. Under braking, the Beetle Convertible was always secure, allowing us to easily calibrate our inputs when enjoying the canyons, even in the wet.

05 2013 volkswagen beetle convertible trunk Photo 5/6   |   2013 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible - First Drive

With the new Beetle Convertible, VW is aiming squarely at the hearts of men to try to win back a sizable customer base. We acknowledge their effort but only time will tell if more men decide to cruise with the top down. Certainly the TDI option will broaden this capable car's appeal, and we found no detriment to driving the diesel model beyond outright performance. And VW is confident its clean diesel technology means the noise, smell and fumes associated with older diesel engines won't blight this modern soft-top.

2013 VW Beetle Convertible TDI

Layout transverse front engine, front-wheel drive

01 2013 volkswagen beetle convertible top down passenger side profile Photo 6/6   |   2013 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible - First Drive

Engine 1968cc, four-cylinder, 16v turbo-diesel, cast iron block, forged crankshaft, aluminum head, double overhead cam

Drivetrain six-speed manual or optional DSG automatic with Tiptronic and Sport mode

Brakes 11.3" rotors f, 10.7" r

Wheels & Tires 17x7" wheels, 215/55 R17 all-season tires

MSRP $24995 for 2.5L ($27895 for TDI)


Peak Power 140hp at 4000rpm

Peak torque 236 lb-ft at 1750rpm

0-60mph 8.5sec

Top speed TBD

Weight 3296 lb

Economy 28/37mpg (city/highway)

By Ezekiel Wheeler
271 Articles



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