When you first start up the 2013 Volkswagen Beetle Turbo Convertible in cold weather, there is a persistent beeping as the outside temperature display below the speedometer flashes a snowflake logo to alert the driver. Many cars flash similar warnings when it’s cold out, but this alert seems even more urgent in our Beetle droptop, as if the car itself knows that it’s being driven outside of its comfort zone.
"Although I love looking at the Beetle Convertible, I hate looking out of it."
In our office, though, cold weather and top-down driving are not mutually exclusive. In fact, road test editor Chris Nelson and copy editor Rusty Blackwell have a pact to never drive a convertible with the top up unless it’s below 32 degrees Fahrenheit outside. So, this month, both Nelson and Blackwell had top-down stints in the Beetle convertible with temperatures hovering in the mid-40s.
Nelson begins with a play-by-play of his chilly, 50-mile trek in the VW: “44 degrees: Top goes down. Heater goes on right away, aiming toward my feet. Heated seat is clicked on. Neighbor looks at me like I’m a nut, which I am.” Then the temperature goes up slightly, and the heated seat finally kicks in. “Forty-seven degrees. The heated seat is now scorching. I turn it off. It never stopped heating up. I appreciate it, but it’s a bit much.” Finally, Nelson bemoans a missing feature in the Beetle convertible, “Fifty degrees: No available heated steering wheel? C’mon. I hate gloves. Help me out here, VW.”
For other, saner members of the staff, the cold weather means that the 2013 Volkswagen Beetle Turbo Convertible has been spending a lot of time with its soft top raised. This prompts criticism about outward visibility. After a weeklong stay-cation with the Beetle, senior web editor Phil Floraday grumbled, “I don't like the massive blind spots the soft top causes. They make backing out of a parking spot a lot more difficult.”
Associate editor David Zenlea at least found a way to compliment the Volkswagen’s styling while deriding its outward sightlines. “Although I love looking at the Beetle convertible, I hate looking out of it,” Zenlea said. “The A-pillars are chunky, the top completely obstructs the rear, and the doorsills nearly come up to my shoulders.”
Later in November, the 2013 Volkswagen Beetle Turbo Convertible got another taste of winter when your author took it on a trip to snowy central Ohio for the Thanksgiving holiday. While it wasn’t the most practical car for carting around various family members due to somewhat difficult access to the rear seats, everyone enjoyed the Beetle’s styling and was disappointed that the wintry weather discouraged top-down cruising. Still, the heater acquitted itself well, warming the small cabin quickly even on short trips. In fact, after fifteen minutes or so in the car, the air coming out of the vents was sometimes too hot despite the sub-freezing temperatures.
When the weather warmed up a bit over the weekend, my brother, cousin, and I bundled up to take the Beetle convertible out for quick trip around the block with the top down. Although my brother said that he much preferred the top-down experience to the claustrophobic rear-seat accommodations when the top is raised, he concluded that “the only real reason this car exists is for driving in California.” How appropriate, then, that our Beetle convertible will soon be making a trip out to sunny Southern California to give it a break from the harsh Midwest winter.
Check back next month to hear about the 2013 Volkswagen Beetle Turbo Convertible’s trip across the country and the start of its new life in California, where it will be spending time in its natural element.