2013 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible Turbo review


Base price: $31,195  As tested: $31,990

JM VW bug

Most people have a soft spot in their heart for the Bug because it got popular in the 60s, man.

My sentimental feelings for the peanut-sized Beetle, though, are because it was the first-ever car I reviewed back in 2000, when the net was still (almost) something you threw over a crazy person.

My Beetle (then) was lime-green, fast, roomy and a lot of my friends upwards of 6 feet and/or 300-plus pounds fit in there without butter or a shoehorn. I spent a blissful week careening around Park Slope, Brooklyn, after which I wrote said first and wholly positive review. That’s all I remember, frankly. Since then, I haven’t gotten a test beetle every single year, but I have tested a total of 4, according to my records.

You want to know how rockin’ the new Beetle is, 13 years later? I had given back a Rolls-Royce Ghost in exchange for the Beetle, and I didn’t mind at all. Why would you mind a pint-sized powerhouse with a quick-dropping roof, a rich sound system, plenty of room for your crizzap, and being able to park it in a postage-stamp sized space in midtown Manhattan for no money? No need for a “my other car is a Rolls” sticker.


My first Bug of the two – the Turbo – shares suspension, a 6-speed manual transmission and a 200 horsepower 2.0 litre engine with Volkswagen’s GTI hatchback.  It won “best engine,” but the ice-cream white exterior reminded me of a refrigerator, and not in a good way. The second Beetle was red – much better color – but its Diesel engine was a total lug, with no fun in the acceleration and a supposed driving expert – me – still stalling out 5 days after I had the car. Note to self: Give it a LOT of gas before letting go of the clutch. Couple of fly ladies in a parking lot snickered at me one time when I stalled, too.

I leaned on the Turbo for the entire test, wanting to see how much it could take and how it responded to a heavy-handed, heavy-footed driver, and I was pleased it returned each serve with a strong response of its own. Curves were hugged at high speeds, brakes were smashed and the car instantly halted, and available freeway slots were reached quickly when I stepped on it.

It’s got a 2.0 litre turbocharged 200 horsepower engine, a welcome stability control system, ABS brakes, independent front and rear suspension, a tire pressure monitoring system, and all the latest safety features. In fact, if I was going to hit something and had a choice of small cars to do it in, I’d pick this thick-walled, sturdy peanut.

The small-convertible market is busy these days, but the Bug squashes all competitors.

More info, including a variety of Bugs offered this year. 

Josh Max