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2013 Volkswagen Beetle TDI

America’s Only Diesel Convertible

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First sold in the United States in 1949, the Volkswagen Beetle is still one of the most recognizable cars on the road today. And although the last hardtop Beetle was sold in the U.S. in 1977, and the convertible in 1980, Volkswagen produced more than 21.5 million of these iconic cars before international production finally ended in 2003. In 1998, however, VW introduced us to the New Beetle. And in 2012, a complete design update made way for the return of what we now know again as simply the Volkswagen Beetle.

For 2013, VW is offering up seven different models available with its TDI turbodiesel engines. We got our hands on a 2.0L TDI wrapped up in a ’13 Beetle convertible for a bright and sunny Southern California winter weekend, so we dropped the top and headed for the beach. Currently, the Beetle is the only convertible offered with a diesel engine in the U.S.

We are big fans of the TDI engine, and the 2.0L in the Beetle doesn’t disappoint. Throttle response and acceleration are brisk, and there is no lack of passing power. This is all thanks to the engine’s potent 236 lb-ft of torque and the quick-shifting DSG automatic transmission. For the purists out there, the Beetle is also offered with a six-speed manual transmission. With the top down, you are rewarded with hearing the light clatter that tells the world this is no ordinary VW, but with the top up you would never suspect it of being a diesel—it really is that quiet.

Don’t let the two-door exterior fool you, as the interior is plenty roomy. Built on the U.S.-spec Jetta platform, the Beetle has ample space for four adults, including rear seat leg and headroom. The only tricky part is getting into the back seat with the convertible top up, but you get that for free with any two-door coupe. Our base model tester was very well appointed. The seats are comfortable, the dash is simple and elegant, and the controls feel very natural.

The Beetle chassis is quite rigid, which is a great feature when you don’t have a roof to help hold it all together. We noticed a distinct absence of creaks and rattles while driving on the rough urban roads around greater Los Angeles. This rigidity also helps keep the VW planted when blasting around corners, allowing the suspension to do its job more efficiently.

During our short time with this entertaining vehicle, we managed to log quite a handful of top-down, open-air miles along the beach, on the highway, in the city, and even on twisty mountain roads. There wasn’t much the Beetle couldn’t do with ease. Most importantly, through all the miles, there was always a smile on our face. And in the end, that is what really matters.

First sold in the United States in 1949, the Volkswagen Beetle is still one of the most recognizable cars on the road today. And although the last hardtop Beetle was sold in the U.S. in 1977, and the convertible in 1980, Volkswagen produced more than 21.5 million of these iconic cars before international production finally ended in 2003. In 1998, however, VW introduced us to the New Beetle. And in 2012, a complete design update made way for the return of what we now know again as simply the Volkswagen Beetle.

For 2013, VW is offering up seven different models available with its TDI turbodiesel engines. We got our hands on a 2.0L TDI wrapped up in a ’13 Beetle convertible for a bright and sunny Southern California winter weekend, so we dropped the top and headed for the beach. Currently, the Beetle is the only convertible offered with a diesel engine in the U.S.

We are big fans of the TDI engine, and the 2.0L in the Beetle doesn’t disappoint. Throttle response and acceleration are brisk, and there is no lack of passing power. This is all thanks to the engine’s potent 236 lb-ft

Fast Look
We like: Great fuel economy, quiet, convertible.
We’d change: Trunk is difficult to open; would option it with satellite navigation.
We say: A small, diesel-powered convertible that anybody can drive and have fun in.
EPA CITY/HWY Mileage Estimates: 28/37 (DSG transmission)

Fast Specs
Vehicle Model: 2013 VW Beetle Convertible
Base Price: $27,895
Engine Type: 2.0L I-4
Valvetrain: DOHC, four valves per cylinder
Aspiration: Turbocharged, intercooled
MFG’s hp at rpm: 140 hp at 4,000 rpm
MFG’s torque at rpm: 236 lb-ft at 1,750 rpm
Transmission: Six-speed manual or six-speed DSG automatic
Suspension (F/R): Strut-type with lower control arms, coil springs, telescopic dampers, antiroll bar / Multilink, coil springs, telescopic dampers, antiroll bar
Steering: Electronically assisted rack and pinion
Brakes (F/R): 11.3x1.0-inch vented discs / 10.7x0.4-inch solid discs
Wheels/Tires: 17x7-inch aluminum / 215/55R17 Continental
Curb Weight: 3,340 pounds
Max Payload Capacity: 873 pounds
Fuel Capacity: 14.5 gallons
EPA CITY/HWY Mileage Estimates: 28/37 (DSG transmission)
Observed Fuel Economy: 37.6 mpg

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