Design and Engineering

Design and Engineering

Good First arrived Down Under in mid 2003 (some three years after the Beetle Hatch) however as the convertible was a part of the New Beetles development program from the start, decent rigidity and a relatively tight body is on offer. The roof is a quality 3 layer cloth affair and the late 2005 facelift added a new front and rear bumper design and integrated indicator lights in the side mirrors.
Not so good The toughened up windscreen pillars, floorpan, sills & rear side panels (all necessary to ensure structural strength after chopping off a roof) equals added weight. Unfortunately the sole 2.0L petrol engine powering the Beetle Convertible doesn’t offer much oomph.
Interior and Styling

Interior and Styling

Good The extra large speedometer is a nice nostalgic nod to the original Beetle. The distinctive three spoke steering wheel adjusts for both rake and reach and the generously sized and comfortable front seats have a neat flip and slide mechanism to ensure easy access to the rear bench seat. The leather covered wheel, gear shift knob and handbrake lever add a little luxury and an illuminated glove box and a 12V socket in the centre console show that Volkswagen is thinking of the end customer.
Not so good The oversized windscreen pillars can obstruct vision, causing a blind spot at an intersection and the falling away nose means it can be hard to see where the front of the car starts = difficulty in parking in tight spots. The rear seat offers only average space and the boot is on the small side. Thankfully a lockable rear seat load through opening is useful when needing to carry a long load.
Performance

Performance

Good The sole engine on offer is a four cylinder 2.0L petrol unit which generates 85kW of power and 172Nm of torque. When cruising on the boulevard (surely the perfect environment for the Beetle?) the amount of power on offer is sufficient (just) and both gearboxes (buyers can choose from a five speed Manaul or a six speed Automatic) provide smooth shifts.
Not so good But try to enjoy yourself by heading up the rev range and you’ll be disappointed with the 85kW of power. Best to remember that this is now an old school Volkswagen engine, having long been retired from the higher selling Golf Hatchback. It doesn’t really enjoy being revved above 4,500rpm, is one of the slower vehicles in its segment and choosing the Automatic gearbox only amplifiers this point.
Ride and Handling

Ride and Handling

Good The relatively stiff body ensures this is no wobbly fish in the handling stakes and the ride is compliant and offers comfortable motoring. The steering is also fine for the intended vehicles use (relaxed motoring).
Not so good Relative is the key word, push on and you’ll quickly notice that the competing Volkswagen Eos enjoys being driven through the hills more than the Beetle. Grip is only average and the nose heavy feeling when pushing into a corner is a polite indication that it’s better suited to sensible driving.
Buying and Owning

Buying and Owning

Good Comes standard with Anti-lock brakes, six airbags and an active rollover protection system (where the rollover bars automatically pop up in the case of a major accident to protect the occupants). Nice to see cruise control and an auxiliary input audio socket in the dashboard as standard and ten speakers is impressive in a vehicle of this price.
Not so good Misses out on Electronic Stability Program (an important safety feature), even as an option!