Volkswagen continues to cater to the cute car crowd with the Beetle convertible, a topless riff on a modern design that recalls droptop versions of the classic air-cooled compact from decades past.
For 2018, this stylish four-seater gains a new engine in a 2.0L turbo four-cylinder that adds a few horsepower over the 1.8L it replaces while matching the old engine's 184 lb-ft of torque and promising a small improvement in fuel economy. The new motor is a detuned version of the one used in the redesigned Tiguan crossover that also arrives this year.
But along with the Beetle's new motivation we also mourn the loss of another manual transmission as this car now comes exclusively with a six-speed automatic.
But the Beetle's standard kit list does gain heated front seats and windshield washer nozzles, which used to be part of an optional convenience package. There's also a new Coast Edition trim painted a deep sea teal hue with beige seats and surfwood dash. It gets 17-inch "heritage" wheels, sunroof, passive keyless entry, blind spot detection with rear cross traffic alert, automatic headlights and rain-sensing wipers.
Optional in the Coast Edition is a style package that adds xenon headlights, automatic climate control, Fender stereo, fog lights and LED taillights.
The off-road wannabe Dune trim carries over unaltered.
Fuel consumption estimates for the new 2.0L engine are 9.0/7.2 L/100 km (city/highway), down from 9.7/7.2 for last year's 1.8L model with its optional automatic.
You'd have to be a profoundly unhappy person to not feel joy when looking at the Beetle convertible. The current design dates to 2013, when VW dropped the word "new" from the car's name, and it's a look that's aging well, considering it's not much different than that of the New Beetle that had been around since the late 1990s.
Based on the same platform as the Golf, the Beetle is pleasant to drive and fun to toss around a quick corner now and then. The addition of a bit more power won't hurt, though the new engine is more of a nod towards VW's streamlining its engine lineup than anything else.
Volkswagen doesn't face a lot of competition for four-seat compact convertibles. The Beetle's price splits the difference between the convertible version of the Mini Cooper and the Fiat 500c: the former is more fun to drive and while the latter has a rear seat, it's a pretty tight fit for adults with legs.
This vehicle has not yet been reviewed