Turbocharged for Summer Driving | 2014 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible R-line

July 2014 View more

© 2014 Volkswagen of America, Inc.

© 2014 Volkswagen of America, Inc.

With the sun shining and the warmth of summer cascading over us for weeks on end, what better time to indulge in that great automotive decadence, the convertible?

And what better way to indulge than the Volkswagen Beetle Convertible R-Line, the newest version of a car that’s been the ride of choice for weekend jaunts to the beach for decades. A visually arresting replacement for the Beetle Turbo Convertible, this car is not only quick on the road, but also quick to shed its inhibitions—electronically dropping its top in about 10 seconds, even while driving up to about 30 miles per hour.

CMAG0714_FortheRoad_185643952752ab5b6acee1d_800pxThe “New Beetle” was a head-turning sensation when it debuted a dozen years ago, and even now, thanks to a recent freshening of its iconic design, this is a car that draws attention. This year’s R-Line trim, which adds nice touches like upgraded wheels and chrome accents, makes the design pop that much more.
Even better than the attention you’ll get when driving it, though, is how it drives: Think of the Beetle Convertible R-Line as a drop-top version of VW’s sporty GTI. In addition to sharp handling, the Beetle’s 210-horsepower engine, paired with VW’s fantastic DSG automatic transmission, creates a surprisingly rewarding experience in more ways than one.

In sport mode, the transmission not only holds on to each gear as you accelerate, but also downshifts as you brake so the engine is ready for your next command. Listen closely and you will hear the engine rev and even an occasional tailpipe report. And that aural reward is dialed in just right—not as loud as, say, a Nissan 370Z, but pleasantly noticeable for people who like to hear their engines.

The Beetle also mimics the GTI inside with supportive seats, a flat-bottomed steering wheel, and a cluster of racers’ gauges at the center of the dashboard. The climate controls are a delightful lesson in simplicity, and the optional Fender stereo system sounds great, despite being tethered to a small and dated-looking screen that also handles navigation duties.

The Beetle is a true four-seater, though the rear seats are tight. The front seats move easily to allow passengers to get in and out of the back. That makes up for the front seats’ otherwise awful manual adjustments for adjusting the seat backs.

CMAG0714_FortheRoad_140632598352ce8bac6fcac_800pxWith a black interior and headliner, the Beetle Convertible’s interior is quite dark and with its low roofline, the cabin can feel snug. The car’s rear visibility is also compromised by its small rear window. All the more reason to keep the roof stowed, right?

Speaking of that, the soft top is a bit of an endangered species these days with all of the folding hard tops out there. This one blocks out most road noise and folds down into a much more compact package than on previous Beetle convertibles. There is a vinyl cover that you can manually attach once the top is folded, but when the cover is not in use it takes up a lot of room in the small trunk. It might be better to just leave that cover in your garage and save yourself the trouble of using it.

The 2014 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible R-Line starts at $29,395 and climbs to $33,795 with the Sound and Nav packages. Other choices in the Beetle Convertible lineup are the diesel model at $28,895, with significantly better fuel economy than the turbocharged edition and a non-turbocharged model at $25,170, leaving you thousands of dollars to spend on sunscreen and beach towels.