Volkswagen Beetle Cabriolet

The Essentials

  • Price from £18,405
  • What Car? says: 3 star rating
  • Fuel economy: up to 62.0mpg
  • What is it? The Volkswagen Beetle Cabriolet is a soft-top version of the iconic supermini. It's more exciting to look at than it is to drive, but for many that will be the right priority.

Great

  • The Beetle Cabriolet is still something of a style icon
  • Stable and nimble enough to satisfy in everyday driving
  • There's plenty of space in the front seats and the boot is a decent size

Gripes

  • The back seats are small and cramped
  • Rear visibility is poor
  • It's a bit jiggly on urban roads
  • Drive

    Comfortable and easy to drive, if not particularly exciting

  • Inside

    Dashboard combines retro styling with clear, modern VW controls

  • Safety

    Hatchback version has excellent score from Euro NCAP

  • Reliability

    Should prove as good as the Golf

  • Space

    Good boot but rear seats are tight

  • Standard and extras

    Cheaper models are fine; higher trims are expensive

  • What's it like to drive?

    The 1.2 engine is the one to go for as long as you don't mind it's slightly weedy acceleration: apart from this, it's smooth and happy to be revved, and makes the most financial sense. The 1.4 petrols are the best choice if you like to pick up pace quickly, but while the 2.0-litre diesel and petrols are punchy and responsive, they're not really worth the extra expense. We haven't yet driven the 1.6 TDI model. All Beetle Cabriolets get the advanced rear suspension you find on top-spec Beetle hatchbacks, but at urban speeds the soft-top still shudders a bit over poor surfaces; things get better when the pace quickens. The slow steering response means you won't want to throw this car round twisty B-roads, however. A large plastic windblocker keeps buffeting down to a minimum; the downside is that when it's in place it puts the rear seats out of use. All the engines are quiet, and there's no more wind noise than on other convertibles.

  • What's it like inside?

    The plastics in the Beetle's cabin don't feel as classy as those in a VW Golf, with more hard panels used instead of soft-touch surfaces. The controls are just as solid and easy to read as those in other Volkswagens, but as the dashboard has been inspired by the original Beetle's, it's taller than in most modern cars and has a flat - rather than sloping - front. You can go even further with the retro look and specify the dash in the same colour as the car's exterior.

    There's plenty of space for those up front but the rear seats are only really suitable for children as legroom is tight, and even kids might not relish journeys in the back as the low fabric roof makes rear occupants feel rather hemmed in. The boot is a decent size but a small, letterbox-shaped opening make it a little awkward to load. However, you can fold the rear seats forward to expand the loadspace when you need to carry larger items.

    The cheapest trim, confusingly named 'Beetle', comes with steel wheels, DAB radio and air-con, but it's available only with the 1.2 TSI or 1.6 TDI engines. Design trim adds a body-coloured dashboard, alloy wheels, Bluetooth, USB input, CD changer, multi-function steering wheel and a monochrome touch-screen. Top-spec Sport models get sports seats, front and rear parking sensors and bigger alloys. An extra 300 will get you a colour touch-screen and sat-nav on Design and Sport models. All models have Isofix fittings on both rear seats, with top tether points.

  • How reliable is it?

    The Beetle shares most of its parts with the Golf, so reliability should be good. The Beetle hatch received a five-star rating from Euro NCAP, including an impressive 92% for adults safety and 90% for children, and the Cabriolet should keep you similarly protected. On the security front, you get an alarm, deadlocks and plenty of marked parts.

  • Should I buy one?

    The Beetle Cabriolet is big on style but short on space, and if this isn't an issue then it's worth knowing that a Mini Convertible is cheaper and retains more of its value, too. However, the Cabriolet is actually quite well priced next to most other four-seat cabriolets, and both tax and fuel bills should be low.