Turbo Diesel Efficient and Sun Tan Approved. [fimg=left]http://www.cleanmpg.com/photos/data/501/2013_VW_Beetle_Convertible.jpg[/fimg]Wayne Gerdes - CleanMPG - Dec 3, 2012 2013 VW Beetle starts at $24,995 with the $27,895 TDI variant providing its owners with a 28/41 mpgUS highway rating the highly recommended 2.0L turbo diesel and 6-speed manual. Santa Monica, CA -- Remember the song "It Never Rains in Southern California"? While it has a dark and rainy side as colleagues that followed our wave experienced, sunshine and warm weather in Nov/Dec is meant to be enjoyed. With over 330 days of Southern California sunshine per year, enjoy it we did from behind the wheel of the delectable and efficient 2013 VW Beetle Convertible TDI! Most have a Beetle story, do you? Whether its “Slug a Bug” or personal experience, here is mine. It was 1965 and although I was too young to remember, my parents had a “Beetle” and were involved in an accident at a stop light in which a driver hit them from the rear and forced them into the car in front… Fortunately we are all still here but the Beetle saw its last day on the road. There is a however a high probability that it is a part of the car or truck you are driving today. Meet the 2013 Beetle Convertible The first Beetle convertible was called the type 15 built in 1949 and continues to be one of the most recognized drop tops ever built. According to the VW folks at the short lead, more than 330,000 first generation Beetle Convertibles were manufactured over a 32-year period and another 234,000 New Beetle Convertibles were produced in an eight-year span. Now into just the third generation in 63 years (what nameplate of anything has that long a run with just 3 editions?), the modern iconic Beetle “look” is back with a Porsche like silhouette. Like most automobile designs today, the Beetle convertible is longer and wider than its predecessor with the standard rear spoiler creating that often overused term “sporty” look. Consider this First drive from the perspective of our previous write-ups on the third generation Beetles reincarnated in 2012 to the Convertible we drove last week: 2013 VW Beetle Drop Top Preview 2012 MAMA Fall Rally – A Surprising New Vehicle Earns Top Billing VW’s All New Beetle Gets A Diesel Boost Beetle Production Begins in Mexico Yet More 2012 Beetle Details VWs’ Special Edition 2012 Beetle Pre-Order Program The 2012 VW Beetle Just like the 2012 Beetle hardtop, the all-new 2013 Beetle Convertible carries on the iconic retro image of the original with the round headlight and taillight lenses, bulbous fenders and even a hint of a running board. 2013 VW Beetle Hardtop vs. Convertible From any angle, the Hardtop and Convertible are almost identical except for the folding roof. With the top up, the convertible has a slightly lower roofline. Because the Convertible is by its very nature less rigid, a number of reinforcements were added including the A-pillar that is only slightly wider from the inside, made of high strength steel and is reinforced at its base. The front roof crossmember has an additional central plate, the B-pillars include a stronger heel plate, there is extra sheetmetal in the lower body sidemembers and an extra rear panel integrates the Automatic Rollover Support System behind the rear seats. The drop top is not made of a single piece of pliable vinyl like most would have thought at first glance. The outer flexible roof consists of an outer one of polyacrylic woven fabric; a middle layer of synthetic rubber; and an inner lining of polyester. Underneath, there’s a three-layer design for the insulation, made from polyester nonwoven fabric, polyethylene terephthalate (PET) insulating fleece, and polyester spunboard. The headliner is made from foam-laminated fabric. The result is a taut top when shut that is a lot quieter than you would expect for a soft top. What else stands out about the top? With the touch of the roof button, the top is lowered to its stowed position in just 9 seconds. Top up in 11.5 seconds you can even put the top up while traveling as fast as 31 mph! While the Cd for the Beetle Convertible is relatively high at 0.36, wind noise and turbulence with the wind block accessory in place was acceptable. For a long distance top down drive, I would still recommend hearing protection. The hot VW Convertible Turbo really is a blast to drive with the top down or up! With 3 different drivetrains available including the not so efficient 170 HP 2.5L I5 (it felt a little anemic when pushed), a very quick 200 HP 2.0L Turbo (it was fun to drive times two ) and the very efficient 140 HP, 236 lb-ft. of torque 2.0L TDI (the one to own for true pump savings and resale value), I will focus on the TDI. Mated to either the 6-speed MT or 6-speed Dual-clutch AT, there was plenty of power on tap that developed very linearly from 1,000 RPM to the heart of its output just below 2,000 R’s. Higher R’s created more sound and a bit more acceleration but the TDI just loved to run in that 1,500 to 2,000 RPM range with a quick work of the gears to keep it there. 2013 VW Beetle Convertible Pricing and Specifications Besides a 50, 60’s and 70’s edition, the 2013 VW Beetle Convertible is available in three trims separated by the 3 engine choices listed directly above. Complete pricing, specifications, standard and optional equipment can be found within the 2013 VW Beetle Convertible Pricing and Specifications page. 2013 VW Beetle Convertible Highlights To describe the Beetle convertible in a single sentence is impossible but the phrase “Let the sun shine in while allowing the wind to blow” encompass’ the best that the Beetle Convertible has to offer. In the preview I spoke of its only real competitor, the Mini but with a 27/35 mpgUS rating for a smaller and even more expensive base car, it did not grab my imagination. With the Beetle Convertible equipped with the 2,0L TDI and a 41 mpgUS highway rating however, this is definitely worth a look! 2013 VW Beetle Convertible’s wind block accessory -- From trunk storage to upright in two minutes or less. The wind block flip up storage holder works but like many VW add-ons, is massively over engineered. A simple storage box with a slot at the top of the trunk would have been easier. Not only does a Beetle of any sort stand out, the convertible provides both curb appeal and exhilarating open air driving enjoyment. Any motorcycle rider knows exactly what I am describing. Adding, you receive most of the protection of a standard automobile while having almost unlimited sightlines with the top and windows down for the taller driver. 2013 VW Beetle Convertible Ride and Handling I am not exactly sure what VW is doing with the underpinnings and suspension bits including bushings, geometry, variable spring rates and shock absorber rebound and compression damping settings but whatever it is, the rest of the industry should copy. From our recent lengthy drive in the 2013 Passat TDI, our first drive in the 2013 VW Jetta Hybrids and now after spending some time behind the windscreen of the Beetle convertible, they all feel familiar. The seats are supportive yet not confining, road feel through the wheel is only a tad heavy, turn in feels precise but not too quick and high speed cornering provided more cornering confidence than a 100 in wheelbase anything should. I am speaking about the base 2,5L and 2.0L TDI here. All Beetle Convertibles are fitted with struts and a 22 mm stabilizer bar up front (Turbo receives a 23 mm bar) and multi-link with an 18 mm stabilizer bar in the rear. The real corner carver however is the Hans Stuck tuned Turbo variant. Hans is a Formula One driver who participated in the Beetle Turbo’s suspension setup. The Turbo’s ride and handling characteristics were developed at the Nürburgring motorsports complex to maintain cornering stability at over 90 mph with a stiffer springs and more shock rebound and compression damping. The Turbo also includes an XDS cross differential (limited-slip) system that electronically monitors input from various wheel sensors and, in the event of slippage, transfers extra torque to the wheel or wheels with the most traction. Most would think the convertible would not be rigid enough for hard cornering yet when pressed, rarely did you feel the structure flex like convertibles we have driven in distant past. Volkswagen did not provide a high strength steel composition percentage, from the technical presentation outline, the chassis itself appears to consist of at least 90% high and ultra high strength steels. This along with a solid chassis design is responsible for the stiffer than expected overall convertible structure. 2013 VW Beetle Convertible Safety Standard with all 2013 VW Beetle Convertible’s are front and combination side and side curtain airbags, Electronic Stability Control (ESC) with four-wheel disc brakes, Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS), Brake Assist (BA) and Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD). Most interesting is the Beetle Convertibles Automatic Rollover Support System. In the event of a rollover accident, two roll-over bars concealed behind the rear bench seat-back are pyrotechnically activated in the case of a crash or rollover. Along with the ultra high strength steel fixed A-pillars, these two supports help provide effective protection for the occupants in the case of a rollover within milliseconds. Like all VW’s as of late, the Beetle Convertible includes Intelligent Crash Response (ICRS) that unlocks the doors, turns on the hazards, and shuts down the fuel system in certain types of collisions. The 2012 VW Beetle hard top has earned 4-stars by the NHTSA. The Convertible is not expected to achieve more. 2013 VW Beetle Convertible Fuel Economy 59.8 mpg over a one-way 12.9 mile drive with the 6-speed DSG AT -- 84.2 mpg over a round trip 26.1 miles with the 6-speed MT. I drove both the 6-speed DSG (28/37 mpgUS city/highway) and the 6-speed MT (28/41 mpgUS city/highway) along the Pacific Coast on PSL limited roads of no more than 55 mph. The above results show that a stick when pushed will almost always provide better fuel economy until speeds rise to a point that a short ratio stick requires to many RPMs. Among the most recent high fuel economy VW’s, the Beetle will not match either the Passat TDI or the Jetta Hybrid for a daily driver, 40 + mpg for just about anybody is almost guaranteed all the while letting the sun shine in. 2013 VW Beetle Convertible Early Conclusions If you are a sun lover, there is no better solution for getting back and forth to work with the top down. During inclement weather, hit the button, the top closes and close the power windows. With the recommended 2.0L TDI engine, you will be skipping the pump far more than what most are driving today. A few missteps include a glove box that does not snap open with the push of the button, smallish rear view mirror, small passenger volume for taller passengers, and small cargo capacity for luggage and a relatively high price for a smaller vehicle by comparison to the Jetta and Passat TDI’s. Convertibles are a bit chilly, breezy and noisy even with the wind block in place depending on conditions. A boost to both the Bass and Treble settings to hear with the top down is almost mandatory even with the excellent Fender audio system in the multiple convertibles I was driving. With VW continuing to provide exceptional vehicles that in turn provide stunning sales results month after month, the VW Convertible just like the Passat and Jetta before it, is a sure hit amongst its convertible competitors. And much of that success can be attributed to great handling characteristics and that wonderfully torquey and hyper efficient 2.0L TDI The 2013 VW Beetle Convertible including the 50s classic black with a tan interior, 60s denim blue color with two tone seats and 70s toffee brown with chrome wheel special editions are now available at your local Volkswagen dealerships. 2013 VW Beetle Convertible Let the sun shine in is only the beginning of the fun this little beauty provides.