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2014 Beetle Convertible Diesel: Iconic yet wickedly fun top up or down

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2014 VW Beetle Convertible TDI Diesel

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There are not a lot of cars that you can have an iconic yet wickedly fun drive experience with the top down plus comfortable seating for four. The 2014 VW Beetle Convertible TDI Diesel is certainly in that select few. In quick summary, the 2014 Beetle convertible is an exciting ride in the sun with top down and just about anywhere else, top up.

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The Beetle Convertible returned to the U.S. market in December 2012 (as a 2013) and we were selected to test it in January of 2013 driving a Rush Yellow Cabriolet (what they called the convertible then) with the 2.0L TSI turbocharged 200 horsepower engine and a six-speed manual transmission. Based on that prior ride and drive, we were very eager to get into the 2014 Beetle Convertible – this time the TDI Clean Diesel with the DSG (dual clutch) automatic transmission.

A week or so ago, our friends at VW delivered us a brand new 2014 Beetle Convertible TDI Diesel w/Sound & NAV. This test car was the top-of-the-line TDI diesel model with the 2.0L turbocharged engine kicking out 140 hp with 236 ft.-lb of torque delivered to the road via the 6-speed DSG Automatic Transmission. This powertrain is the most fuel efficient of the Beetle Convertibles with an EPA rating of 28/37 mpg City/Highway and an expected average of 31 mpg.

Our 2014 Beetle Convertible was a bit more conservative than the 2013 Rush Yellow version we tested last year. The 2014 model was clad in a Gray Metallic with a nice beige interior. For the MSRP of $30,795, our TDI w/Sound and NAV added, to the already solidly equipped Beetle, the VW RNS 315 Touch Screen Navigation and Fender Premium Audio System. Some other accessories added included the Wind Deflector with Storage Shelf ($500), Chrome Exhaust Tips ($200), Monster Floor Mats ($130), Security Wheel Locks ($80) and First Aid Kit ($35).

The delivered price on this 2014 VW Beetle Convertible TDI w/Sound & NAV WAS $32,560.

New for 2014

The Beetle Convertible for 2014 has some changes in power train including the replacement of the earlier base 2.5L engine with the new Gen 3 turbocharged 1.8 -liter four-cylinder engine with the 2.5L hydraulic steering replaced with electro-mechanical power steering.

The Beetle Turbo lineup is renamed as the R-Line for 2014 and adds aggressive style bumpers front and rear as well as R-Line exterior badging and R-Line door sill kick plates. A top R-Line Convertible with Sound with Navigation (MSRP $33,795) also features unique 19-inch aluminum-alloy wheels, Bi-Xenon headlights with LED DRLs, and leather seating surfaces. Black interiors also get an R-Line badge on the steering wheel and a metallic finish dash pad. All Beetle R-Line models have the Gen 3 2.0 -liter version of the 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine.

Other than the above items, the 2014 Beetle Convertible has all of the same features and attributes that we referred to in our review of the 2013 VW Beetle Cabriolet. Strengths of the Beetle Convertible in 2014 continue to be the longer and wider stance, low silhouette, responsive sport suspension, supportive seating, wide doors, exceptional head room, interior ambient lighting in three colors, 50/50 rear folding seats for flexible cargo capacity, wind and deck screen insert and the awesome automatic power soft top that is fast and well insulated for a quiet cabin.

Other Key Features

We make special note of the performance of the TDI Clean Diesel engine mated to the DSG Automatic Transmission. Even with a bit less horsepower than the turbocharged gasoline engines that are available, this diesel excels in acceleration performance with the highest torque output of the available power plants.

A key to this performance – that actually enhances it – is the DSG Dual Clutch 6-speed Automatic Transmission that combines the ease-of-use of an automatic with the responsiveness and economy of a manual through its Tiptronic function that permits manual operation when desired. The DSG is actually two gear boxes in one. The two wet clutches control separately the odd number gears—first, third, fifth and reverse— while the other operates the even gears. This DSG set-up allows the next-higher gear to be engaged but remain on standby until it is actually selected. The result is that while driving in one gear, the next highest is already selected but not yet engaged. As the optimal engine revolutions are reached, the electronic intelligence quickly and smoothly moves the vehicle to the next gear.

Safety

VW recognizes and addresses the importance of safety and occupant protection in their Beetle Convertibles. Starting with the use of ultra- high-strength hot-formed steels in the crash-load paths of the body, VW has added a reinforced front roof crossmember, strengthened A-pillar, and an Automatic Rollover Support System. This system consists of two roll-over bars concealed behind the rear bench seat-back, activated by the computer that deploys the airbags in the case of a crash. Along with the fixed A-pillars and airbags, including front and head-thorax airbags, they help to provide effective protection for the occupants of all four seats in an instant from impact.

Still to Come

The 2014 Beetle Convertible line will add two new features later in the model year including an available rear view camera. The other will be their VW Car-Net connected services system. VW Car-Net offers an array of security and convenience features, including Automatic Crash Notification, roadside assistance, and stolen vehicle location assistance. In addition, VW Car-Net adds: remote vehicle access; boundary and speed alerts; a vehicle health report; and an enhanced POI service on vehicles equipped with a navigation system. Most of these features can be administered through a handy smartphone app for iPhone and Android devices.

For 2014, the Beetle Convertible comes in three trim levels – Turbo 1.8T (MSRP $25,170), R-Line 2.0L Turbo ($29,395) and TDI Diesel ($28,895). Take a look at all three. One is certain to get your attention.

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