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2014 VW Beetle Convertible: Fun, free-spirited

The Volkswagen Beetle convertible has good driving dynamics and pleasant interior space.
The Volkswagen Beetle convertible has good driving dynamics and pleasant interior space.
Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Volkswagen Beetle

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Combine the fun and cute factor of a small car with the free-spirited feeling of a convertible and you get the 2014 Volkswagen Beetle convertible.

The test drive model was a turbo diesel powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 140 horsepower. The Beetle, which comes as a non-convertible as well, also can be equipped with a 1.8-liter or a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder gas engine.

The Beetle,despite being a small car, has a pleasantly roomy interior. It seats two up front and two in the back, and front seat passengers, especially, get a fair amount of headroom and leg room.

The rear seats split to offer more cargo carrying capacity.

For smaller cargo, you can use one of the two glove boxes up front.

The Beetle's body changed a bit a couple of years ago, making it a little longer and wider than its preceding version.

It was said by many at the time that the changes were designed to give it a bit more masculine appeal. Whether that was achieved is up for debate.

But of course, it still carries the distinctive Beetle styling that has become iconic over many decades.

Optional body features include a rear spoiler, panoramic moonroof on non-convertible models and 19-inch wheels.

On the inside, you'll find a boost gauge on the dashboard, a touch screen stereo and navigation system and a push-button start.

Safety features include side-impact air bags for the front, electronic stability system and an optional backup camera.

The driving dynamics of the Beetle are generally quite good. It handles crisply and corners wonderfully.

The one exception is that there is a noticeable turbo lag. Upon acceleration, you have to give the Beetle's engine a second or two to respond to your command.

This puts a bit of a damper on an otherwise fun-to-drive machine.

Fuel efficiency in the diesel model we tested was terrific. In a week of city and highway driving, we put more than 300 miles on the car and still had nearly half a tank of diesel remaining.

The Beetle can get up to 41 mpg on the highway.

Sticker pricing for the Beetle starts at around $20,000 and ranges to nearly $33,000.

For fun, good fuel economy and distinctive styling, the Beetle is a fine choice.