Our Four Seasons Volkswagen Beetle Turbo convertible arrived along with the start of warm weather here in southeast Michigan, and staffers have taken advantage by snatching the Bug's keys for a smattering of road trips. After the Beetle went to the New York last month, associate web editor Evan McCausland and his wife took the VW to Cleveland, Ohio, for a wedding.
McCausland already had some experience playing packing Tetris with a convertible, thanks to another wedding he attended a couple summers ago in a Mazda MX-5 Miata. "Barring the tux itself, which hung from the rear seat headrest, I insisted on stuffing all our belongings into the trunk in the hope of maximizing our top-down time. Sadly, Mother Nature didn’t cooperate -- torrential rains marred our entire drive. I did try to drop the top during a few trips surrounding the rehearsal dinner, but rain made me raise it again after only a few brief moments. Fortunately, the top raises and lowers quickly at speeds of up to 30 mph."
Before the McCauslands left on their trip, there had been much griping about the Beetle's less-than-stellar handling. However, Evan put it into perspective: "I’m a little surprised to see people complaining about floppy handling and the like. We were expecting what, a Miata? We’ve driven Beetle convertibles before, and despite Volkswagen having done a good job of upgrading the latest Bug and evolving its styling, it’ll always be what it is: a roofless Golf with a rounded body. Unless you’re willing to return to the good old “basket handle” roll bar or weld the doors shut, I doubt there’s much more VW can do to increase rigidity -- the pedals are already off-center to accommodate extra bracing in the cowl. But just because it isn’t autocross-ready doesn’t mean it’s worth dismissing. This is an incredibly comfortable four-seat convertible, and unlike the Camaro and Mustang convertibles, it provides adequate room for four adults (if not all their belongings). I find myself smiling every time I’m behind the wheel, regardless of whether I’m driving briskly or at a more relaxed pace. I could use more four-wheeled Zoloft this summer, and the Beetle Cabriolet might be the prescription."
JeanKnowsCars.com associate editor Annie White also found that the Beetle to great was to clear away any ennui. "There’s something wonderful about driving down a country road on a summer day with no roof to block your view of the sky. (Not that I was looking at the sky, I was looking at the road the whole time, definitely.) I also love that the top can operate while driving." White did, however, take issue with the Beetle's in-cabin storage, namely the large elastic straps above the door pocket, which she proclaims are "trying to win a competition for tackiest storage area in a $30,000 car."
We had to take the Beetle in for an unscheduled service at around 5700 miles. The door developed a nasty rattle after the window in the driver's door came untracked and refused to close completely. When the dealer took the door panel off, they discovered a nut that had rattled loose, causing the window to fall off its track. The window was realigned and a new nut was installed; the work was covered under warranty.
Check back next month after the Volkswagen Beetle Turbo convertible takes an extended road trip east -- this time around New England and down the eastern seaboard.