CleanMPG’s First Drive Review of the 2013 VW Beetle Convertible

Discussion in 'Reviews' started by xcel, Dec 3, 2012.

  1. xcel

    xcel PZEV, there's nothing like it :) Staff Member

    [​IMG]Turbo Diesel Efficient and Sun Tan Approved.

    [fimg=left][/fimg]Wayne Gerdes - CleanMPG - Dec 3, 2012

    2013 VW Beetle starts at $24,995 with the $27,895 TDI variant providing its owners with a 28/41 mpgUS highway rating the highly recommended 2.0L turbo diesel and 6-speed manual.

    Santa Monica, CA -- Remember the song "It Never Rains in Southern California"? While it has a dark and rainy side as colleagues that followed our wave experienced, sunshine and warm weather in Nov/Dec is meant to be enjoyed. With over 330 days of Southern California sunshine per year, enjoy it we did from behind the wheel of the delectable and efficient 2013 VW Beetle Convertible TDI!

    Most have a Beetle story, do you?

    Whether its “Slug a Bug” or personal experience, here is mine.

    It was 1965 and although I was too young to remember, my parents had a “Beetle” and were involved in an accident at a stop light in which a driver hit them from the rear and forced them into the car in front… Fortunately we are all still here but the Beetle saw its last day on the road. There is a however a high probability that it is a part of the car or truck you are driving today.

    Meet the 2013 Beetle Convertible

    The first Beetle convertible was called the type 15 built in 1949 and continues to be one of the most recognized drop tops ever built. According to the VW folks at the short lead, more than 330,000 first generation Beetle Convertibles were manufactured over a 32-year period and another 234,000 New Beetle Convertibles were produced in an eight-year span.

    Now into just the third generation in 63 years (what nameplate of anything has that long a run with just 3 editions?), the modern iconic Beetle “look” is back with a Porsche like silhouette. Like most automobile designs today, the Beetle convertible is longer and wider than its predecessor with the standard rear spoiler creating that often overused term “sporty” look.

    Consider this First drive from the perspective of our previous write-ups on the third generation Beetles reincarnated in 2012 to the Convertible we drove last week:
    Just like the 2012 Beetle hardtop, the all-new 2013 Beetle Convertible carries on the iconic retro image of the original with the round headlight and taillight lenses, bulbous fenders and even a hint of a running board.

    2013 VW Beetle Hardtop vs. Convertible


    From any angle, the Hardtop and Convertible are almost identical except for the folding roof. With the top up, the convertible has a slightly lower roofline.

    Because the Convertible is by its very nature less rigid, a number of reinforcements were added including the A-pillar that is only slightly wider from the inside, made of high strength steel and is reinforced at its base. The front roof crossmember has an additional central plate, the B-pillars include a stronger heel plate, there is extra sheetmetal in the lower body sidemembers and an extra rear panel integrates the Automatic Rollover Support System behind the rear seats.

    The drop top is not made of a single piece of pliable vinyl like most would have thought at first glance. The outer flexible roof consists of an outer one of polyacrylic woven fabric; a middle layer of synthetic rubber; and an inner lining of polyester. Underneath, there’s a three-layer design for the insulation, made from polyester nonwoven fabric, polyethylene terephthalate (PET) insulating fleece, and polyester spunboard. The headliner is made from foam-laminated fabric.

    The result is a taut top when shut that is a lot quieter than you would expect for a soft top.

    What else stands out about the top? With the touch of the roof button, the top is lowered to its stowed position in just 9 seconds. Top up in 11.5 seconds you can even put the top up while traveling as fast as 31 mph!

    While the Cd for the Beetle Convertible is relatively high at 0.36, wind noise and turbulence with the wind block accessory in place was acceptable. For a long distance top down drive, I would still recommend hearing protection.

    The hot VW Convertible Turbo really is a blast to drive with the top down or up!​

    With 3 different drivetrains available including the not so efficient 170 HP 2.5L I5 (it felt a little anemic when pushed), a very quick 200 HP 2.0L Turbo (it was fun to drive times two ;)) and the very efficient 140 HP, 236 lb-ft. of torque 2.0L TDI (the one to own for true pump savings and resale value), I will focus on the TDI. Mated to either the 6-speed MT or 6-speed Dual-clutch AT, there was plenty of power on tap that developed very linearly from 1,000 RPM to the heart of its output just below 2,000 R’s. Higher R’s created more sound and a bit more acceleration but the TDI just loved to run in that 1,500 to 2,000 RPM range with a quick work of the gears to keep it there.

    2013 VW Beetle Convertible Pricing and Specifications

    Besides a 50, 60’s and 70’s edition, the 2013 VW Beetle Convertible is available in three trims separated by the 3 engine choices listed directly above. Complete pricing, specifications, standard and optional equipment can be found within the

    2013 VW Beetle Convertible Pricing and Specifications page.

    2013 VW Beetle Convertible Highlights

    To describe the Beetle convertible in a single sentence is impossible but the phrase “Let the sun shine in while allowing the wind to blow” encompass’ the best that the Beetle Convertible has to offer. In the preview I spoke of its only real competitor, the Mini but with a 27/35 mpgUS rating for a smaller and even more expensive base car, it did not grab my imagination. With the Beetle Convertible equipped with the 2,0L TDI and a 41 mpgUS highway rating however, this is definitely worth a look!

    2013 VW Beetle Convertible’s wind block accessory -- From trunk storage to upright in two minutes or less.​

    The wind block flip up storage holder works but like many VW add-ons, is massively over engineered. A simple storage box with a slot at the top of the trunk would have been easier.

    Not only does a Beetle of any sort stand out, the convertible provides both curb appeal and exhilarating open air driving enjoyment. Any motorcycle rider knows exactly what I am describing.

    Adding, you receive most of the protection of a standard automobile while having almost unlimited sightlines with the top and windows down for the taller driver.

    2013 VW Beetle Convertible Ride and Handling

    I am not exactly sure what VW is doing with the underpinnings and suspension bits including bushings, geometry, variable spring rates and shock absorber rebound and compression damping settings but whatever it is, the rest of the industry should copy. From our recent lengthy drive in the 2013 Passat TDI, our first drive in the 2013 VW Jetta Hybrids and now after spending some time behind the windscreen of the Beetle convertible, they all feel familiar. The seats are supportive yet not confining, road feel through the wheel is only a tad heavy, turn in feels precise but not too quick and high speed cornering provided more cornering confidence than a 100 in wheelbase anything should. I am speaking about the base 2,5L and 2.0L TDI here.

    All Beetle Convertibles are fitted with struts and a 22 mm stabilizer bar up front (Turbo receives a 23 mm bar) and multi-link with an 18 mm stabilizer bar in the rear. The real corner carver however is the Hans Stuck tuned Turbo variant. Hans is a Formula One driver who participated in the Beetle Turbo’s suspension setup. The Turbo’s ride and handling characteristics were developed at the Nürburgring motorsports complex to maintain cornering stability at over 90 mph with a stiffer springs and more shock rebound and compression damping.

    The Turbo also includes an XDS cross differential (limited-slip) system that electronically monitors input from various wheel sensors and, in the event of slippage, transfers extra torque to the wheel or wheels with the most traction.

    Most would think the convertible would not be rigid enough for hard cornering yet when pressed, rarely did you feel the structure flex like convertibles we have driven in distant past.

    Volkswagen did not provide a high strength steel composition percentage, from the technical presentation outline, the chassis itself appears to consist of at least 90% high and ultra high strength steels. This along with a solid chassis design is responsible for the stiffer than expected overall convertible structure.

    2013 VW Beetle Convertible Safety

    Standard with all 2013 VW Beetle Convertible’s are front and combination side and side curtain airbags, Electronic Stability Control (ESC) with four-wheel disc brakes, Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS), Brake Assist (BA) and Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD).

    Most interesting is the Beetle Convertibles Automatic Rollover Support System. In the event of a rollover accident, two roll-over bars concealed behind the rear bench seat-back are pyrotechnically activated in the case of a crash or rollover. Along with the ultra high strength steel fixed A-pillars, these two supports help provide effective protection for the occupants in the case of a rollover within milliseconds.

    Like all VW’s as of late, the Beetle Convertible includes Intelligent Crash Response (ICRS) that unlocks the doors, turns on the hazards, and shuts down the fuel system in certain types of collisions.

    The 2012 VW Beetle hard top has earned 4-stars by the NHTSA. The Convertible is not expected to achieve more.

    2013 VW Beetle Convertible Fuel Economy

    59.8 mpg over a one-way 12.9 mile drive with the 6-speed DSG AT -- 84.2 mpg over a round trip 26.1 miles with the 6-speed MT.​

    I drove both the 6-speed DSG (28/37 mpgUS city/highway) and the 6-speed MT (28/41 mpgUS city/highway) along the Pacific Coast on PSL limited roads of no more than 55 mph. The above results show that a stick when pushed will almost always provide better fuel economy until speeds rise to a point that a short ratio stick requires to many RPMs.

    Among the most recent high fuel economy VW’s, the Beetle will not match either the Passat TDI or the Jetta Hybrid for a daily driver, 40 + mpg for just about anybody is almost guaranteed all the while letting the sun shine in.

    2013 VW Beetle Convertible Early Conclusions

    If you are a sun lover, there is no better solution for getting back and forth to work with the top down. During inclement weather, hit the button, the top closes and close the power windows. With the recommended 2.0L TDI engine, you will be skipping the pump far more than what most are driving today.


    A few missteps include a glove box that does not snap open with the push of the button, smallish rear view mirror, small passenger volume for taller passengers, and small cargo capacity for luggage and a relatively high price for a smaller vehicle by comparison to the Jetta and Passat TDI’s. Convertibles are a bit chilly, breezy and noisy even with the wind block in place depending on conditions. A boost to both the Bass and Treble settings to hear with the top down is almost mandatory even with the excellent Fender audio system in the multiple convertibles I was driving.

    With VW continuing to provide exceptional vehicles that in turn provide stunning sales results month after month, the VW Convertible just like the Passat and Jetta before it, is a sure hit amongst its convertible competitors. And much of that success can be attributed to great handling characteristics and that wonderfully torquey and hyper efficient 2.0L TDI :)

    The 2013 VW Beetle Convertible including the 50s classic black with a tan interior, 60s denim blue color with two tone seats and 70s toffee brown with chrome wheel special editions are now available at your local Volkswagen dealerships.

    2013 VW Beetle Convertible

    Let the sun shine in is only the beginning of the fun this little beauty provides.​
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2012
  2. joesgot4

    joesgot4 Well-Known Member

    Re: CleanMPG’s First Drive Of the 2013 VW Beetle Convertible

    wow! i dont care for convertibles ,but mpgs nice
  3. xcel

    xcel PZEV, there's nothing like it :) Staff Member

    Re: CleanMPG’s First Drive Of the 2013 VW Beetle Convertible

    Hi All:

    Being an auto journalist doesn't pay squat but the benefits sometimes make up for it?

    Great car(s), McDonald's or something out of a bag or can, really out there cool locations and sleeping in the car or a 1 or 2 star hotels when you are on your own.

    Great car(s), top notch restaurants, premium locations, 4 or 5 star hotels and even some really cool "thank you" gifts when on a press trip.

    Here is one of those cool "thank you" gifts courtesy of VW from the Beetle Convertible TDI short lead.

    The original Converse All Stars!​

    Thank you VW :D

    Last edited: Jan 8, 2013
  4. ALS

    ALS Super Moderator Staff Member

    Re: CleanMPG’s First Drive Of the 2013 VW Beetle Convertible

    I like the slicker chopped look of the new version. :)
  5. xcel

    xcel PZEV, there's nothing like it :) Staff Member

    Re: CleanMPG’s First Drive Of the 2013 VW Beetle Convertible

    Hi All:

    The new Beetle Convertible has arrived in Germany and is now available in Volkswagen dealerships all over the country. The new design includes a large number of trims with a pretty darn good great value angle by comparison to the rest of the convertible lineup. The open-top four-seater will be launched across Europe over the coming weeks.

    This grandchild of the legendary original Beetle Convertible can be ordered with a range of efficient engines covering a power output range of 103.5 hp to 197 hp. The electrically powered soft top is easily opened within just 9.5 seconds and in terms of safety, too, the Beetle Convertible is exemplary with a rollover protection system behind the rear seat headrests that shoots up within milliseconds of the car beginning to lean at a dangerous angle.

    2013 VW Beetle Convertible

    The most fuel efficient Convertible in the US is now available in Germany.​

    The trims, just like here, offer something for everyone.

    The new Beetle Convertible is available as a ‘Beetle’, ‘Design’, ‘Design Exclusive’, ‘Sport’ and ‘Sport Exclusive’.

    On top of this come three limited edition models: ‘50s Edition’, ‘60s Edition’ and ‘70s Edition’. Each of these reflects and gives a modern interpretation to style elements from the respective decade. This broad range is supplemented by twelve paint colors and two soft top colors, eleven different interior fabric and leather trims, twelve wheel designs and numerous technical and styling options. The four-seater is launching in Germany with a base price of $28,137 USD for the 1.2L TSI making this Beetle the most affordable convertible in the Volkswagen range.

  6. xcel

    xcel PZEV, there's nothing like it :) Staff Member

    Hi All:

    Volkswagen Announces Pricing Of Beetle And Beetle Convertible 1.8T Models

    Beetle 1.8T and Beetle Convertible 1.8T priced from $20,295 and $25,170 respectively.

    Having launched the new direct injected and turbocharged 1.8L TSI EA888 engine in the Jetta and Passat lineup, VW announced earlier today pricing for the Beetle and Beetle Convertible 1.8T models, which are just now arriving at U.S. dealerships nationwide.

    The base price for the Beetle is $20,295 when equipped with a five-speed MT and $21,395 with a six-speed AT. The Beetle Convertible, which is only available with the six-speed AT, begins at $25,170. Volkswagen’s standard destination charge for the Beetle and Beetle Convertible is $820.

    Designed to be lighter and more fuel-efficient, the new EA888 Generation 3 turbocharged and direct-injection I4 features a number of refinements, such as a new thinwall cylinder block, a cylinder head with an integrated exhaust manifold, and careful attention to the reduction of friction. The new 1.8L TSI engine is built at Volkswagen’s new engine factory in Silao, Mexico, part of VWs ongoing $5 billion investment in North America.

    The 1.8T engine has a peak output of 170 horsepower at 4800 to 6200 rpm, matching the horsepower rating of the outgoing 2.5L I5 but output at 700 fewer revs. The new engine offers seven pound-feet more torque at 184 lb-ft, produced at just 1500 rpm, 2750 revs under its predecessor. The torque curve is strong and flat, with the peak being delivered from 1500 to 4750 rpm. All 1.8T Beetle models now have electric power steering, in place of the hydraulic setup on the 2.5 models.

    The new engine also returns better EPA estimated fuel economy figures than the 2.5L engine. The Beetle equipped with the 1.8T and a six-speed AT now sports a 25/33 mpg city/highway rating, up from 22/29 mpg for the 2.5L engine.

    The MT city/highway/combined ratings are now 24/33/27 mpgUS from the 2.5Ls 22/31/25 mpgUS ratings. In the case of the Beetle Convertible, the EPA ratings have improved from 21/27/23 mpgUS to 24/32/27 mpgUS.

    Volkswagen’s EA888 I4 has set the benchmark for small-displacement turbocharged engines as evidenced by its inclusion in WardsAutos 10-Best engines for 2014. See VW Details its WardsAutos 10 Best Engines Award Winner for even more detail.

    The EA288 TDI has set the standard for diesel engines in the North American market since it first appeared in the 2009 Jetta TDI Clean Diesel.

  7. xcel

    xcel PZEV, there's nothing like it :) Staff Member

    Hi All:

    For 2015, the 2.0L I4 TDI will be replaced by the new more powerful and fuel efficient 150 hp EA288 2.0L TDI turbo diesel.

    The TDI Beetle equipped with the optional 6-speed DSG dual-clutch AT improves EPA estimated highway fuel economy from 39 to 41 mpg.

    The Beetle Classic will offer unique seat fabric; front lumbar supports; leather-wrapped steering wheel, shift knob and parking brake; three-color ambient lighting; RNS 315 navigation; and a six-speed automatic transmission. Available wheels on this trim include 17-inch “Circle” aluminum-alloy wheels in white or black (depending on exterior color).

    Like the Beetle, the 2015 Beetle Convertible also receives the new 2.0L I4 improving upon its the EPA estimated highway fuel economy with the AT by a notable 3 mpg to 40 mpg.

    In addition, the Convertible also gains the Classic trim level, offering unique seat fabric, RNS 315 navigation, and a six-speed automatic transmission. Wheels available for this trim include 17-inch Circle alloy wheels in white or black (depending on exterior color).

  8. ALS

    ALS Super Moderator Staff Member

    Re: CleanMPG’s First Drive Review of the 2013 VW Beetle Convertible

    When I first got into fuel mileage I ran across a guy who had a web page on getting better fuel mileage out of his TDI Beetle. He's an engineer who built a wooden tail spoiler for his vehicle which jumped the fuel mileage pretty substantially. If I remember he was getting well into the 50's with the mpg's on the highway. :)
  9. xcel

    xcel PZEV, there's nothing like it :) Staff Member

    Hi Al:

    I remember that guy. It was not just the aero add-on that allowed his TDI to get those numbers however. ;)


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