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Posts Tagged ‘volkswagen beetle review’

First Drive: 2013 Volkswagen Convertible

The new “people’s car” goes topless.

by on Nov.28, 2012

VW engineers worked hard to maintain the Beetle coupe's shape - while also enhancing the top-down fun of the Beetle Convertible.

VW is ready to blow its top – and, in the process, reinforce its reputation for engineering, innovation and sportiness with the introduction of the new 2013 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible, which is debuting this week at the 2012 LA Auto Show.

The new model, which follows into showrooms a year after the debut of the third-generation Volkswagen Beetle Coupe, shares the same basic dimensions – in fact, one of the more notable accomplishments for VW engineers was the way they were able to maintain the distinctive shape of the new Beetle with the ragtop version.

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Another accomplishment was maintaining the fun-to-drive character of the classic “people’s car,” with the top up, but especially down – as learned during a drive of the new VW Beetle Convertible in the days before its official LA Auto Show reveal.

It’s one of those situations where VW engineers had to make some significant tweaks to keep everything pretty much the same.  That meant subtle modifications to the chassis to maintain stiffness and drivability of the new Beetle Convertible. Even though it carries some additional weight, even the base version of the new ragtop delivers a firm ride, responsive steering, and reliable and predictable cornering. Oh, and toss in a good set of brakes.

Even with the base 2.5-liter engine, the new Beetle Convertible delivers 170 horsepower, which is plenty of power for enjoying open air motoring. The two more expensive versions, with VW’s TDI diesel, and the maker’s 2-liter gasoline turbo with its 200 horsepower, offer more punch and have an edge in traffic by providing the extra boost needed for passing and other maneuvers.

The Beetle Convertible also is surprisingly quiet.  The ragtop’s fold-back roof contains three separate layers which helps minimize the road noise when the roof is up.

In addition, the top is powered by two electric motors and latches and unlatches automatically at the touch of a button, which is located on the upper rail of the windshield surround. The top takes just 9.5 seconds to stow and 11.0 seconds to be raised, the extra time needed to latch the roof’s header to the windshield.

Incidentally, the top can be raised and lowered at speeds of up to 31 mph. An integrated wind blocking system is available on the Beetle Convertible as a Volkswagen Genuine Accessory.

Klaus Bischoff, Head Designer, Volkswagen Brand, noted the Beetle Convertible was not just a copy of the original, insisting the design of the third-generation Beetle Convertible can stand on its own.

However, the Beetle Convertible retains the bold, purposeful stance of the Coupe, thanks to a wider tracks and a longer wheelbase than the previous New Beetle Convertible. Compared with the 2006 version of the “New” Beetle, the latest Convertible is 3.3 inches wider at 71.2 inches; 1.1 inches lower at 58.0 inches tall; and 6.0 inches longer at 168.4 inches overall.

“Retro is not our thing: we are always looking forward. Volkswagen has reinterpreted the Beetle Convertible’s timeless design with a sportier and more dynamic silhouette, just as it did with the Beetle Coupe. The car is substantially wider, has a longer hood, and has a more upright windshield that sits further back than before. The standard rear spoiler reinforces the car’s sporty look,” he said.

Nonetheless, at launch, there will be three special editions of the Beetle Convertible with design themes echoing the 1950,’60s and 70s when the Bug was in its heyday.

The extra attention from Volkswagen engineers and designers comes at a price. The base model for the new convertible starts at $24,995, the TDI version jumping to $30,295. And the 2-liter turbo package carries a stiff price tag of $33,000 – all these figures adding the $795 destination charge to the sticker.

VW has been building convertibles since 1949 and the Beetle has been one of the most popular open-top cars ever built. More than 330,000 examples of the first Beetle Convertible were manufactured over a 32-year span, while another 234,619 New Beetle Convertibles were produced in an eight-year period.

The new Beetle Convertible is definitely a worthy successor to the earlier versions and a whole lot of fun to drive.  For Volkswagen, it could be one more motivator to get more Americans back into what was once the most popular ragtop in America.


VW Beetle: Mini 911 or a Big Mistake?

In an effort to broaden its appeal Beetle is more aggressive, less cute.

by on May.30, 2012

Everything old is new again: the newest Beetle lined up against a silhouette of the original "people's car."

This is a story about the Volkswagen Beetle, not the New Beetle, which is actually the old Beetle. But not the really old Beetle, the one designed by Ferdinand Porsche for Adolf Hitler prior to World War II. That’s because the old Beetle was actually called the New Beetle while this new Beetle is simply called Beetle. Or you can just call it Bug. Whatever is easier.

VW’s goal with the new Bug is to broaden its appeal beyond its mostly female base who loved the old car because of its iconic – and more importantly cute – styling.

Yeah, We're Cute!

So the new Beetle is less bubble-like. It’s wider and lower with a flatter roof. The front end is more aggressive. There’s a bit of wedge shape rising toward the back end. Inside, it’s not surprising that the flower vase is gone.

It’s a huge gamble. While sales had slowed, there was still a core group of people who were mesmerized by the cute-as-a-bug-in-a-rug styling. There have been plenty of slick wedges, but the New Beetle was different in a world of same. It’s still different, but a little more normal.


First Drive: 2012 Volkswagen Beetle

Forward into the past.

by on Jul.15, 2011

The 2012 Volkswagen Beetle may be a very modern car but its heritage design is unmistakable.

Less flower, more power.  That’s the message Volkswagen hopes to get out as it prepares for the upcoming launch of the third-generation Volkswagen Beetle.

As unlikely as it might seem, that’s not a typo.  Since the original “people’s car,” or Volkswagen, was introduced in the dark days before the Second World War, it has gone through any number of refinements, but only two complete updates.  And the last time VW revealed a redesign it wound up with the New Beetle, an insufferably sweet “chick car” that largely alienated the male half of the automotive buying public.

Not so this time, as VW emphasized during a global launch, last April, and at this week’s first drive in Berlin.  Along with the flower vase, the maker has abandoned the semi-circular shape of the New Beetle, the “21st Century Beetle” adopting what designers like to call a heritage design.

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Sitting side-by-side in the German capital’s Potsdamer Platz, it’s easy to see the influence of the original Beetle, the longest-lived and best-selling car in global automotive history.  The new model regains the classic silhouette, with its long, rounded snout and a lower, more aggressive roof-line.  Aggressive is the active word, for VW, which believes the new edition can appeal to both men and women with its more sporty look.