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  • 2018 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible 2.0T S

    Posted on January 31st, 2018 ninarussin

    Affordable open-air fun

    By Nina Russin

    2018 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible

    2018 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible

    Convertibles have come a long way since the time when they were fair weather friends, since the tops lacked the insulation to keep interiors warm in the winter. The Volkswagen Beetle convertible combines iconic styling inspired by the Karmann Cabriolets of the late 1940s and 1950s, with four-season versatility and new for 2018, a more powerful four-cylinder engine.

    The turbocharged, TSI engine develops 174 peak horsepower and 184 foot-pounds of torque at engine speeds as low as 1500 rpm: a tip of the throttle. A Tiptronic six-speed automatic transmission is standard. There are four grades- S, Coast, SE and Dune. Pricing for the base S model tested starts at $25,440 excluding the $850 destination charge.

    Standard comfort and convenience features include keyless entry, single-zone manual climate control, leatherette seating surfaces, 16-inch alloy rims, heated and foldable side mirrors, intermittent wipers, power soft top, 50/50 split folding rear seat and adjustable ambient lighting.

    Test drive in Southern Arizona

    2018 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible

    2018 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible

    Balmy January weather made for the perfect backdrop for putting the newest Beetle convertible through its paces. The top deploys with a single control located in the overhead console that also rolls down the windows. The entire operation takes less than 30 seconds.

    A rearview camera is standard, making it easier to see cross traffic in crowded parking lots. Since the rear glass is relatively small, the camera also eliminates some rather large blind spots in the rear corners.

    The new engine’s additional power is evident from the moment the driver dips into the throttle, delivering excellent acceleration off the line and in the 20-to-50 mile-per-hour range drivers use merging into high-speed traffic. The six-speed automatic transmission shifts crisply, with no obvious shift shock under normal driving conditions. A manual gearbox is not available with the convertible: a disappointment to this writer since Volkswagen was one of the last companies to offer the feature on its open-air car.

    2018 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible

    2018 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible

    In addition to its peppy performance, the engine is also extremely efficient, thanks to direct injection. Average fuel economy according-to the EPA is 29 miles-per-gallon. The Beetle runs on regular unleaded gasoline, keeping ownership costs down.

    A rigid body structure prevents cowl shake that can be the bane of open-air cars. The top is extremely well insulated, something that not only makes interior temperatures easier to control but also keeps the road noise out. Occupants should have no problems conversing on the highway or enjoying the audio system.
    An electric power assist steering system is nicely tuned, delivering plenty of assist at lower speeds and a pleasantly heavy feel on the highway. On-center response is a bit soft, but the driver should have no problems making an emergency evasive maneuver.

    2018 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible

    2018 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible

    A four-wheel independent suspension consists of struts up front and multi-link setup in the back. Anti-roll bars on both axles keep the chassis flat while cornering. Ventilated front disc brakes and solid rotors in the rear stop the convertible in firm, linear fashion.

    With the top in place, visibility around the perimeter is good, with-the-exception of the back corners. Because the car has no B-pillars, over-the-shoulder visibility is quite good. I had no problems monitoring vehicles in adjacent lanes on the highway.

    Stylish interior

    Volkswagen Beetle Convertible Interior

    Volkswagen Beetle Convertible Interior

    Although the Beetle is technically a four-passenger car, the back seats offer little in the way of legroom. But the space does add some additional cargo room which comes in handy when the top is deployed. Since the rear seats fold flat, the area is truly functional, making it easier to carry luggage and other moderate-size cargo on longer road trips.

    Designers brought the exterior color inside the car to the dashboard, emphasizing the Beetle’s open-air mission. I found manual seat adjustments easy to use, with adequate lower lumbar support. A tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel enables smaller drivers to maintain a clear forward view and a safe distance from the front airbag.

    Both the gauge cluster and center stack screen are easy to read in bright sunlight, something that’s especially important for a cabriolet. At night, halogen headlamps light the path ahead. Standard daytime running lamps make the Beetle easier for other drivers to see in low light conditions.

    Radio and climate controls are easy to reach from either front seating position. Standard USB and auxiliary ports enable owners to play music from their personal libraries through the audio system. Bluetooth interface is also standard.

    A lockable glove box provides secure storage when the top is down. The traditional “Beetle box,” a second glove box, adds more covered storage.

    Standard safety

    The Beetle convertible comes with front and side airbags, antilock brakes, stability control, traction control, tire pressure monitoring and an intelligent crash response system that automatically cuts off the fuel, illuminates interior lights and unlocks the doors in the event of a serious collision.

    Volkswagen builds the Beetle convertible at its Puebla, Mexico assembly plant.

    Like: An affordable four-season convertible with iconic styling, and more powerful and fuel efficient new engine.

    Dislike: A manual transmission is no longer available.

    Quick facts:

    Make: Volkswagen
    Model: Beetle Convertible 2.0T S
    Year: 2018
    Base price: $25,440
    As tested: $26,290
    Horsepower: 174 HP @ 5000 rpm
    Torque: 184 lbs.-ft. @ 1500 rpm
    Zero-to-sixty: N/A
    Antilock brakes: Standard
    Side curtain airbags: N/A
    First aid kit: N/A
    Bicycle friendly: No
    Off-road: No
    Towing: No
    Fuel economy: 26/33 mpg city/highway

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