By Wayne Gorrett
Sunshine and a sunroof – ingredients for a memorable countryside drive
in Volkswagen’s rag-top Beetle.
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While we have enjoyed plenty of sunshine recently, the sunflower sensibly no longer adorns the VW Beetle dashboard. The latest generation Beetle is lower, longer and wider than its predecessor, meaning front-seat occupants can stretch out with plenty of leg, head and shoulder room.
There are three trim levels – Cabriolet, Design and Sport – to select from and, in addition, three special models have been created – a 50s Edition, 60s Edition (as driven) and 70s Edition – which all have their own bespoke features on top of the mid-grade Design trim level.
We took the 60s Edition 1.4-litre 160PS petrol model with its six-speed manual ‘box out for a spirited countryside drive.
This car was priced at £26,115 and can sprint to 62mph from a standing start in 8.6 seconds, topping out at 128mph. Official figures advise a combined fuel efficiency of 41.5mpg and carbon emissions of 158g/km. The interior is nicely styled and VW have regressed to their original models to get inspiration for the dashboard, which is taller than on most cars.
The car says ‘fun’ from any angle, with its alloy wheels, black electric power hood, heat insulating glass, body-coloured door handles, chrome trim and rear tailgate spoiler. The interior is well-appointed with goodies such as dual-zone climate control, heated leather seats, Bluetooth connectivity, cruise control, and front and rear parking sensors. There’s also a touchscreen infotainment system with sat nav, DAB digital radio, six-CD changer, USB and iPod cables, and a Fender premium sound pack.
In line with expectations from a German manufacturer, there is a real sense of quality about the interior design and all controls and readouts are well positioned for ease of use. But boot space is limited and loading is hampered by its small opening. The roof lowers at the push of a button, driving at up to 31mph, in just 9.5 seconds and the car’s fun factor multiplies with the wind-in-the-hair driving experience.
The Beetle Cabriolet would be just as at home cruising around busy city centres as it is out on the open road, where it accelerates smoothly through the manual gearbox with ample power on tap, as and when required. All-round visibility is adequate although not brilliant through the small rear-view window, where the rear headrests obscure the view.
All Beetle Cabriolets get the multi-link rear suspension that you only find on the most expensive hatchback Beetles, but the ride remains a little unsettled. The body will shudder and flex over typical urban surfaces though it all settles down at higher speeds. Slow steering response only heightens the sense that this is a cruiser, not a sports cabriolet. In addition, those expecting to use it as a full-time four-seater will be hugely disappointed as the rear seats are cramped and overall space restricted.
That aside, its styling will more than justify any handling niggles for most owners as the Beetle Cabriolet is a whole lot of fun to drive – which is really what this car is all about.
As you might expect, the vehicle boasts a comprehensive list of safety specifications, including anti-lock brakes, traction control, electronic stabilisation programme, a tyre pressure indicator and numerous airbags.
The Beetle Cabriolet is a welcome addition to the VW UK line-up and with prices ranging from £18,405 to £26,510, there is a model to suit all budgets.