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Volkswagen Beetle Cabriolet 2.0 TSI (DSG): The feelgood factor

By Ghaith Madadha - Aug 08,2016 - Last updated at Aug 08,2016

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen

Pitched as a rose-tinted retro-infused hatchback harking back to Volkswagen’s defining, first and longest running model, the Beetle is built on a modern Golf-based front-engine platform rather than an air-cooled rear “boxer” engine. The Beetle’s appeal is based on design, fashion and perceived quirkiness or charisma, much like the modern Mini and Fiat 500 that followed the first “new” Beetle’s 1997 debut.

Trading primarily on nostalgia and a certain “fun” factor, the regular hardtop three-door Beetle is in the cold hard light of fact comprehensively outclassed by its current seventh generation Volkswagen Golf stable-mate. However, with an emphatic and inherent emphasis on “fun” affordable drop-top motoring, the Beetle Cabriolet steals the limelight from its hardtop sister and sets its stall at sufficient distance from the superb contemporary Golf.


Stylish soft top


Based on a previous generation but still modern PQ35 Golf platform, there was an effort to downplay the current generation Beetle’s “retro-cute” appeal and present it as a sportier and more “serious” car when launched. Winner of the 2016 Middle East Car of the Year’s Compact Premium Convertible Award, the Beetle Cabriolet is, however, charming and stylish and well-reconciled goodtime soft top at ease in its character and design, even if it inevitably loses a slight degree of dynamic edge with its roof removed.

With its bug-eyed rounded design, defined sills, high flanks, arcing lines outboard stow-able soft top and bulbous wheel arches around 19-inch alloy wheels — as driven in SEL spec — the Beetle cabriolet oozes feel-good charisma. And especially with the absence of a Golf convertible, the Cabriolet more clearly carves out its own niche in the Volkswagen family than the hard-top version, without having to compete head-to-head with the current MQB platform Golf on outright ability and practicality.


Brisk bug


Powered by the previous generation Golf GTI’s two-litre turbocharged direct injection four-cylinder engine, rather than current GTI’s enhanced 10BHP more powerful engine, the Beetle Cabriolet develops 207BHP peaking through 5,300-6,200rpm and 207lb/ft torque at a broad 1,700-5,200rpm mid-range. At 1,505kg the Cabriolet is 85kg heavier than its hardtop sister, but remains brisk, with 0-100km/h dispatched in 7.4 seconds and a 225km/h top speed just 0.1-seconds and 2km/h behind the lighter hardtop. Low fuel consumption, meanwhile, rises slightly from 7.6- to 7.89l/100km for the Cabriolet.

Responsive off-the-line with scant little turbo lag and a muscular slight tyre-chirping urgency at full throttle, the Beetle Cabriolet’s steady and rich mid-range torque allows flexible in-town and highway on-the-move acceleration and underwrites build-up to its punchy and wide peak power. Capable, confident, quick, refined and fuel efficient, the Cabriolet drives its front wheels through an automated 6-speed dual-clutch DSG gearbox. With odd and even gears pre-emptively lining up on separate clutches, sequential shifts are executed seamlessly swift and smooth in auto or manual modes.


Manoeuvrable and comfortable


Comfortable and relaxed on highway with well-adjustable seats, intuitive infotainment screen and clear instrumentation, the Beetle Cabriolet is a practical top down daily driver that is refined with its top up. Riding on MacPherson strut front and multi-link rear suspension the Beetle Cabriolet is reassuring, stable and settled on rebound, if less ultimately capable or focused than the Golf. Compared to its hardtop Beetle sister, the Cabriolet’s added weight and slightly reduced rigidity seem pretty imperceptible in regards to handling and ride. 

Narrow and upright, the Cabriolet offers good road views and manoeuvrability, while steering is intuitive, light, quick and accurate if not meaty in its approach to sportiness. Tidy into corners with good body control, the Cabriolet is not a racy hot hatch but is certainly confident and capable, and remains comfortable over imperfections despite grippy low profile 235/40R19 tyres. Agile, fun, poised and well controlling weight shifts through corners, the Cabriolet zips eagerly through winding roads and is manoeuvrable on urban streets. 


Upbeat and top down


Well-reconciling contemporary safety and convenience equipment with retro-inspired styling, the driven Beetle Cabriolet featured body-colour dash and door panel trim — in this case a lively and vivid red — to highlight its classic harms and airy ambiance. Upright, user-friendly and uncomplicated its dash and console feature circular themes, while fit, finish and materials are almost Golf-good. Manoeuvrable and easy to park with standard parking sensors and optional rear view camera, visibility is particularly good with the top down.


With little top down wind buffeting when windows are up, the Beetle Cabriolet is a practical daily convertible even in chilly weather with the heater on high. The electric soft-top roof operates at up to 50km/h, opening in 9.5 seconds and closing in 11 seconds. Spaciously in front, the Cabriolet’s rear seats offer slightly more headroom but are narrower than the hardtop Beetle. Storage spaces include twin glove boxes, and a useful, but not vast 225 litres boot, down 85 litres from the hardtop version.



Engine: 2-litre, cast iron block/aluminium head, turbocharged transverse 4 cylinders

Bore x stroke: 82.5 x 92.8mm

Compression ratio: 9.6:1

Valve-train: 16-valve, DOHC, variable timing, direct injection

Gearbox: 6-speed dual clutch automated, front-wheel drive

Power, BHP (PS) [kW]: 208 (210) [155] @5,300-6,200rpm

Specific power: 104.8BHP/litre

Torque, lb/ft (Nm): 207 (280) @1,700-5,200rpm

Specific torque: 141.1Nm/litre

0-100km/h: 7.4 seconds

Maximum speed: 225km/h

Fuel consumption, combined: 7.89l/100km

Fuel capacity: 55 litres

Length: 4,278mm

Width: 1,808mm

Height: 1,473mm

Wheelbase: 2,540mm

Track, F/R: 1,578/1,554mm

Aerodynamic drag co-efficiency: 0.37 (estimate)

Unladen weight: 1505kg (approximately)

Headroom, F/R: 998/956mm

Elbow room, F/R: 1459/1,157mm

Legroom, F/R: 1048/797mm

Luggage capacity: 225 litres

Steering: Variable electric-assisted rack and pinion

Lock-to-lock: 3 turns

Turning circle: 10.8 metres

Brakes, F/R: Ventilated disc/disc

Suspension, F/R: MacPherson strut/multi-link


Tyres: 235/40R19

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