The Love Bug gets a turbo and goes topless I can vividly remember asking my mom what her first car was, to which she replied “a bright orange 1972 Super Beetle”.
As far back as I can remember, I’ve always been infatuated with anything that possessed a motor and wheels. I was patiently waiting for the day I could trade in my red Raleigh bicycle with its rainbow banana seat for my first four-wheeled ride. I can vividly remember asking my mom what her first car was, to which she replied “a bright orange 1972 Super Beetle”. Coincidentally enough, most of the people I came across had their own Beetle stories! This past week, I had the privilege of driving the all-new 2014 Volkswagen Beetle 2.0T Convertible.
At first glance the new Beetle’s styling impressed me; the lines of the car from the massive circular headlights to the swooping rear deck seem to have a hint of Porsche 911 in my eyes. This may be a bold statement, but I know that I’m not the only one who notices the similarity (it’s even more apparent on the hardtop model of the Beetle). My tester came packed with lots of curb appeal; big 18-inch “Twister” alloy wheels, dual exhaust and the Reef Blue Metallic paint job. The aggressive “Turbo” badge on the rear decklid assures onlookers that it’s not the 1.6L version from the past – this Bug means business. With heavy competition on the market from the likes of Fiat and Mini, the Beetle cabrio definitely makes a statement and is becoming an increasingly popular choice.
What surprised me most about the 2014 Beetle Convertible was the attention to detail on the interior. Sitting in the driver’s seat of the loaded ragtop, it was hard to believe that it had a Volkswagen badge rather than an Audi one. The Vienna leather seats in Titan Black were complemented with carbon fiber trim on the dashboard, paddle shifters, and a three-position ambient lighting system that really set the mood. Among other high-end goodies in the car, the concert-level sound out of the Fender audio system really impressed me. The 400-watt Fender sound package comes with 8-speakers and a big subwoofer in the trunk. My tester also came equipped with a navigation system, Bluetooth connectivity, and satellite radio.
The toys may be great and all, but I noticed some drawbacks with the cabrio. With such a well-equipped infotainment suite, the Beetle could benefit from a reverse camera and/or rear parking sensors. The raised rear window and soft-top make for major blind spots, making reversing and changing lanes more difficult than should be. Parking aids are an option available to those willing to cough up the extra few bucks, but I believe at this price point it should be standard equipment.
Volkswagen’s engineers mounted a pod cluster on top of the dashboard to indicate oil temperature, a boost gauge, and a stopwatch in case this little Love Bug ever ventures onto the track. The fit and finish of the new car definitely give it an upgrade from “cute” to “classy”.
If shopping around for a Beetle, you’re given three powertrain options to choose from. The base car comes with Volkswagen’s standard-issue 2.5L gasoline engine. There is also the option of the diesel-sipping Beetle TDI. My tester, however, came equipped with the 2.0L turbocharged 4-cylinder shared with the majority of the Volkswagen lineup. This direct-injected turbocharger produces an impressive 210 horsepower and 207 lb-ft of torque. This power is channeled to the front wheels through the slick-shifting 6-speed Direct Shift Gearbox (DSG).
Zipping around town in the Beetle Converitble was definitely fun – whether on the highway or in the city, the 2.0T was always eager for more. The DSG transmission is brilliant and always seems to predict your next move. Handling was quick and nimble, and turbo lag was almost non-existent. A word to the wise though: understeer is nobody’s friend, and this Bug seems to demonstrate quite a bit of it when pushed hard through the corners.
If you plan on using the 2.0T anywhere near its potential, Volkswagen’s fuel claims won’t really apply to you. With my spirited right foot and a smile planted firmly on my face, I fared a reasonable 10L/100km in combined driving over my test period. I don’t think it would be impossible to achieve VW’s highway claim of 6.5L/100km, but it wouldn’t be very much fun to do so!
Volkswagen’s slogan of “memory lane meets the fast lane” certainly appeals to both the young and the elderly. Whether you’re still dreaming about the ’72 Super Beetle you owned in your youth, or you’re in your twenties looking for the retro appeal it provides, the latest Beetle looks as iconic as it has been over the past six decades. With an as-tested price of just over $38,000, my car was a bit pricey if what you’re looking for is bare-bones practicality, but who can really put a price on a trip down memory lane?
2014 Volkswagen Beetle 2.0T Convertible Gallery