Road test: 2013 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible
Fashion always costs more. Because it's more stylish, you'll pay more for, say, a men's dress shirt without a chest pocket than for one that has one, even though it takes less time and material to make.
It's not logical, but fashion is about sensibility, not sense.
This brings us to the 2013 Volkswagen Beetle, which is little more than a Volkswagen Golf draped in different sheet metal.
But is it worth a premium over a Golf? Well, if you like the way it looks, yes.
The Beetle coupe was redesigned for 2012 with an eye toward attracting those with a Y chromosome. Its looks are no longer as cuddly as a baby kitten. For 2013, the Beetle droptop gets the same treatment.
Thanks to its revised dimensions, the new Beetle has the look of the sportier VWs. Compared with the 2006 version, the latest Beetle convertible is 3.3 inches wider, 1.1 inches lower and 6 inches longer.
And if you're sensitive to automotive gender issues, the ragtop just looks meaner, thanks to a roofline that doesn't resemble a bubble. In fact, VW says its shape is closer to that of the 1949 Type 15. This reduces front noggin space by 1.4 inches, but adds it in the rear, making the second row usable for something other than a padded luggage shelf.
As for the roof itself, its outer shell is made from three layers. Beneath that, another three layers insulate the cabin from exterior noise. It's noticeable. This is a quiet car for a ragtop.
The standard engine is VW's 2.5-liter five-cylinder, producing 170 horsepower and an EPA rating of 21 mpg city, 27 mpg highway. This is a power plant bereft of grace, charm or efficiency.
Better to opt for the VW's widely used turbocharged 2.0-liter four. At 210 horsepower, it offers far more thrills. Lively yet fuel-efficient, this mill will fulfill every expectation you would have from this car. The turbo engine makes this car very quick, while its handling is as good as most Golfs, thanks to the fully independent suspension. It's used on all convertibles as well as the turbocharged Beetle coupe.
Yes, there's some body lean during cornering, but the bug's grip is tenacious.
The bottom line? For you fast and furious types, only a turbo will do, even if it's not quite set up for a day at the track.
Yes, this ragtop Beetle is a bit more buff, ready to do battle with those other stylish retro rides. But whether this car is worth it over those iconic droptops is up to you.
After all, when it comes to fashion, one size does not fit all.
2013 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible
Base price: $24,995
Test model: $32,295
Engine: Turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder
Power: 210 horsepower
Wheelbase: 100 inches
Length: 168.4 inches
Weight: 3,272 pounds
Cargo space: 7.1 cubic feet
EPA fuel economy: 23 mpg city/29 highway
Bottom line: Beetle ragtop sans bubble