All of us have at least one story we can tell about a VW Beetle. The VW 'bug' has that easy-to-identify classic silhouette, whether it is the coupe or the convertible. The convertible was an instant success when it was introduced, joining the long-time Beetle coupe as a popular and affordable vehicle.
Recently, I was among a group of automotive journalists that were invited to Northern California to test-drive the full line-up of 2014 Volkswagen models. My favorite and first choice for the day was the new 2014 VW Beetle Convertible. It was a Platinum Gray color scheme and powered by a TDI engine. The TDI Clean Diesel engine is a 2.5 liter, five-cylinder, with an EPA estimated highway fuel economy estimate of 41 mpg. This is based on a manual transmission and my test model was an automatic model.
For the exterior appearance, the third-generation Beetle convertible is not 'retro' or simply a copy of the original. It does, however, stay true to the classic 'bug' shape. The timeless design appears sportier, with a longer hood, more upright windshield, a wider stance, and a standard rear spoiler. Overall, the new 2014 convertible Beetle is longer, wider, and lower than previous models.
The big news for this year's line-up of VW vehicles is the new and powerful 1.8 liter TSI Turbocharged engine. This replaces the 2.0 liter five cylinder earlier model. This new TSI is called the EA888 model, uses standard 87 octane gasoline, and has the cylinder head integrated with exhaust gas recirculation. VW calls it 'driver-oriented' and it can reach peak torque at just 1500 RPM. Mileage estimates for this new engine is roughly 29 mpg. This new 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine will be in most VW vehicles by the end of the 2014 model year.
The VW Beetle Convertible is super-easy to open or close with a simple push of one button. The fast-acting soft top opens in just 9.5 seconds. Amazingly, the operation can be accomplished while the vehicle is moving at speeds up to 31 mph.
The rear-seat is split-folding, as are most vehicles, but this makes for a very practical convertible and allows a lot of flexibility for cargo. Options include leather seating, navigation, push-button start, and a premium Fender sound system.
Safety features include the Automatic Rollover Support System, which is almost a necessity for a small convertible. There is even an extra rear panel that integrates this rollover system that is made from high-strength steel. More sheet-metal has also been added to the lower body side-members.
A new introduction for 2014 is the VW Car-Net, which is similar to other connected services provided by various manufacturers. The first six months are free in all new vehicles and there is a wealth of features provided to the driver. These include Automatic Crash Notification, roadside assistance, stolen vehicle assistance, remote vehicle access, boundary alerts, speed alerts, vehicle 'health' report, and an enhanced POI service. Most of the connected services are designed to be accessed through a smart-phone.
For those who remember the road noise in a convertible, even with the top up, this 2014 Beetle has gone the extra mile. The soft-top’s outer shell is made from three layers. Under that is a three-layer design for insulation. Then the headliner is made from a foam-laminated fabric. Add this all together and there is a thick, yet pliable, snug-fitting top that reduces external noises to amazingly low levels.
This is not a two-seater with a bench in the rear to hold 'stuff', but an actual four-person car. With the top up, there is adequate front and back headroom. Front legroom has been increased. Shoulder room has been increased. Even the trunk space is larger and is not compromised with the top down.
Test-driving the new 2014 VW Beetle convertible through the mountains of Northern California as well as the twisty roads through the vineyards of Napa Valley gave me more than adequate 'seat' time. This vehicle holds the road well and is easy to handle. It responds almost instantly to the driver's commands.
Bottom line – this car is fun It is fun to drive with the top up, but put the top down and enjoy the open road, the scenery, and being with friends. This is one car that allows you to do it all.