2013 Volkswagen Beetle

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2013 volkswagen beetle Reviews and News

2013 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible And 1949 Hebmueller Cabriolet Front View
Let us celebrate the Volkswagen Beetle convertible, a car that has successfully ridden the wave of chic-on-the-cheap fashion for more than sixty years. As evidence, we present here an example of the first production Beetle convertible, the 1949 VW Type 14A Hebmueller cabriolet. And for perspective, we also present a representative of the demographic group known for the way it embraces the ideal of style at the right price.
First, let us agree that a Beetle convertible is all about the way it looks. No matter that this 2013 Volkswagen Beetle TDI convertible will retract its canvas top between cycles at a traffic light with the push of a button. No matter that its turbocharged diesel engine matched with a dual-clutch automatic transmission will deliver the exquisite luxury of sailing past fuel stations for as many as 550 miles. Instead, as we have been told many times by many individuals over the course of many decades (a few fingers might have been wagged in our face in the process) the most important thing about a Beetle convertible is its ability to transport you to a place where the handbags and shoes are all snappy, every car has a steering wheel with a white rim, and a young woman feels as if she's the star of her very own fashion photo shoot in the south of France -- or California, at least.
With the new car placed next to the old, you can recognize the underlying simplicity in the Beetle's shape. It's a kind of raindrop, viewed as nature's most efficient form, and you can see the way it has evolved from the very first VW scribed on a blueprint by body engineer Erwin Komenda, through the New Beetle's geometric gestures created by Art Center-trained designers J Mays and Freeman Thomas, and now into the newest Beetle done with the electronic tools of the VW design studio in Wolfsburg, Germany. Simplicity, bold graphics, and strong color always succeed, whether at a car dealership or on the rack near the door at the discount fashion outlet.
The Beetle comes from the early 1930s, when the German car industry was desperately seeking its own Ford Model T, some form of cheap transportation that would not only put ordinary people on wheels but also restart the economic engine of a society crushed by the Great Depression. Dr. Ferdinand Porsche, the most prolific and innovative automotive engineer of the pre-1950 era, had worked on a number of such projects, and he ultimately presented his own plan to the German government at the 1934 Berlin auto show. Later, he and his son Ferry even traveled to Henry Ford's factory at River Rouge, which was a kind of shrine for automotive industrialists of the time.
By late 1936, Dr. Porsche had built three examples of the Volksauto for evaluation, and subsequently thirty VW30 cars underwent an average of 28,000 miles -- and as many as 62,000 miles -- of durability testing. Among the first prototypes was a convertible, and when the cornerstone of the massive new factory in Wolfsburg was laid on May 26, 1938, a convertible drove down the boulevard in front of the crowd. Then the war came and squashed the whole project as flat as the bombed-out factory.
Yet the Beetle droptop endured. The Wolfsburg workers turned the damaged factory into a repair depot for VW military vehicles with the aid of foresighted British administrators, and the VW38-style Beetle sedan went into production in early 1946 at the rate of 1000 per month. Wolfsburg engineer Rudolph Ringel soon built a racy, two-passenger VW roadster for one of the British administrators, Colonel Charles Radclyffe. The Radclyffe Roadster led in turn to a Beetle convertible also built by Ringel, although the windshield kept cracking because of chassis flex.
Finally, two private companies showed up at the gates of Wolfsburg with proposals to build their own Beetle convertibles, Wilhelm Karmann GmbH (which produced convertible versions of first the Beetle and then the Golf until 2002) and coachbuilder Joseph Hebmueller Soehne. Through various circumstances, Hebmueller was the first to succeed, its sporty two-plus-two car rolling out in June 1949. Karmann's more practical four-passenger car followed in September 1949.
What we have here is a 1949 Volkswagen Type 14A Hebmueller cabriolet, one of the 696 examples that were built between 1949 and early 1952, when Hebmueller went into bankruptcy. The Heb is a little bit of a time machine of the 1930s, right down to the semaphore-style turn signals in the front quarter panels. Indeed, our enthusiast of Beetle style felt transported to a time when she might have taken a snapshot of the car with her own Kodak Brownie camera. (Look, is that a Junkers Ju52 trimotor overhead?) The long arc of the rear engine cover shows us that Karosserie Hebmueller went to some expense to create a true special-bodied car instead of a quick and dirty chop-top.
This particular car came into Volkswagen's hands recently after sitting in a Florida museum for thirty years, and it shows evidence of a restoration during the 1970s. Then as now, it is very small: the VW Type 1 sedan (a.k.a. the Beetle) from which the Heb is derived measures 160.2 inches overall on a wheelbase of 94.5 inches. With its reinforced platform, the Heb convertible probably weighs more than the Type 1's 1600 pounds.
This smallness is the essence of the Beetle's charm because everything is perfectly scaled to the human form. You sit comfortably upright in the fresh air, holding the slim rim of the steering wheel with your fingers. The pedals are hinged at the bottom, which was customary then but seems like an ergonomic nightmare now. (Especially, our style enthusiast reports, if you're wearing high-fashion shoes.) The upright windshield and the proximity of the steering wheel to the dashboard remind you of a Porsche, which should be no surprise since the Porsche 356 was built on a Beetle platform, and these design cues endure even today in the 991 version of the Porsche 911.
The Beetle engine seems impossibly exotic for its time, an air-cooled, 1131-cc flat four with a magnesium crankcase, cast-iron cylinder liners, and cast-aluminum pistons and cylinder heads, not to mention a dedicated oil cooler. The little engine would fire up readily even in snowy February since there was no risk of frozen coolant. Of course, it makes only 30 hp SAE gross (25 hp by German DIN measurements), but you have to remember that the European gasoline of the time had a very low rating, perhaps 60 octane, and you can't expect much power from a compression ratio of 5.8:1.
The Heb's Type 1 engine is free-revving in the way that modern VW engines still are, even the 2013 Beetle TDI convertible's 140-hp turbocharged diesel. All the horses check in by 3300 rpm, but you rarely rev much past the torque peak of 49 lb-ft at 2000 rpm. The distinctive whir from the engine reminds you of a windup Schuco toy car spinning up to speed. Of the four nonsynchromesh gears, the Heb loves third gear best, just like the modern diesel Beetle convertible. While 60 mph is possible, the old car is happiest between 35 mph and 50 mph. (Eliminating worries about cockpit air turbulence and reducing the need for the obligatory postdrive brushing of hair, our style enthusiast notes.) The recirculating-ball steering isn't very precise, but then again the rough-riding 5.20 x 16-inch bias-ply tires aren't capable of much. Plan ahead when it comes time to stop, because the cable-action four-wheel drum brakes will remind you of dragging your old Chucks on the ground when you were riding that 1969 Marx Big Wheel.
Once you swap over to the 2013 VW Beetle, it feels as big as a school bus. Nevertheless, the new car's dimensions aren't too different from the Heb's, as it measures 168.4 inches overall on a wheelbase of 100.0 inches. Of course, it also weighs 3340 pounds. And yet for all that, there is something unpretentiously personal about the new car. Modern convertibles are too often all about speed and all about style, yet they always threaten to tip over the edge into pretentious vulgarity. Instead, the Beetle ragtop is simply all about you -- an intensely personal expression that is more like fashion than fine design.
It's customary now to dismiss the retro cars of the late 1990s as fakes, bad copies of tired ideas. But J Mays, who grasped the significance of the retro idea and helped create successful retro-style cars at Audi, Volkswagen, and Ford, understood that a whisper of retro can tell a story about the car and the company that builds it. Retro sets up a kind of resonance within us, and so we welcome the car, the company that makes it, and even the person driving it.
This describes the 2013 Beetle convertible. It's true that the Volkswagen Type 14A Hebmueller cabriolet was a luxury car in 1949 and remains one now. (We've seen a perfectly restored example of the 130 or so remaining Hebs that is priced at $195,000.) Today, though, a Beetle convertible reminds us that a Volkswagen is about real cars for real people. As our style enthusiast notes, it is great fashion that even the young and perpetually penniless can aspire to own. So why not wear it while you still can.
2013 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible Front Right Side View
The squashed-roof, 2012 Volkswagen Beetle that went on sale in September 2011 proved VW could bring both Golf-level driving dynamics and more masculine lines to a car that had been known more for its bud vase and other girly features than for pleasing enthusiasts. On the day before the 2013 Beetle convertible debuted at the Los Angeles Auto Show, the question on our minds as we set off from the Shore Hotel in Santa Monica, heading up the Pacific Coast Highway to Malibu, was: "Can VW chop off its roof and still appeal to men?" After all, four-seat, brightly colored ragtops don't exactly engender images of Vin Diesel, do they? What we have here is a car that was redesigned specifically for men, transformed into a convertible, an automotive body style that is inherently more appealing to women. Can Volkswagen have it both ways?
It appears that the company might just be able to pull off this product-planning parlor trick. In the right colors -- black, dark brown, even red -- the 2013 Beetle convertible wears its harder, more chiseled exterior lines well, and the roofline with the top in place connotes seriousness more than frivolity. Heck, if anything, the cabin is a little too somber, unless you choose a model with color-matching dash inserts, like in the red TDI we drove. We don't miss the bud vase, but the black roofs on our test cars imbued the cabin with a slightly funereal atmosphere.
We definitely don't miss the old Beetle convertible's flaccid body and chassis. The new car's body is some 20 percent stiffer, thanks to copious use of high-strength steel in the windshield pillars and other key stress points in the car's structure. There's no evidence of cowl flex, and the steering column seems to be as well screwed down as in a Golf, which makes sense since the Beetle is built on the Golf platform. Compared with the 2006 New Beetle convertible, the 2013 model is 3.3 inches wider and six inches longer but is 1.1 inch lower overall. When the fabric top is up, the roofline is even lower than it is in the new Beetle coupe, in a nod to the 1949 Type 15, Volkswagen's first civilian convertible. The resulting exterior proportions create a solid, squat street stance that helps the Beetle look a little more serious.
The convertible shares its three powertrains with the Beetle coupe, so that means the entry price of $24,995 gets you VW's 2.5-liter five-cylinder engine mated to a six-speed torque-converter automatic. There's nothing wrong with this powertrain, but there's nothing remotely inspiring about it, either. If you want to shift for yourself, you'll have to step up to the diesel TDI model at $27,895 or the Beetle Turbo for a hundred bucks less. (It's amusing that their base prices are so close to each other.) Both the Turbo and the TDI are also available with VW's DSG dual-clutch automatic, for a premium of $1100, but it seems that the TDI with the manual is going to be the hot ticket for a certain slice of VW enthusiasts, as it takes the EPA highway number over the magical 40-mpg barrier, for ratings of 28 city, 41 highway. It, like all VW TDI models, is great to drive. Still, enthusiasts will likely be most interested in the 200-hp Turbo, which is the closest thing to a ragtop GTI as you're going to get, at least for now. The Turbo also has bigger front brakes (with red calipers), stiffer bump and rebound settings for its dampers, and a slightly larger front anti-roll bar than the other models, plus 235/45R-18 tires rather than the 215/55R-17s that are on the 2.5L and the TDI. What all three models have, due to packaging reasons, is a fully independent suspension, with a multi-link rear setup, whereas only the Turbo among Beetle coupes has an independent rear.
Part of that rear packaging solution accommodates the new automatic rollover support system, with pop-up roll bars behind the rear seatbacks. VW has also managed to introduce a split-folding rear seatback with a trunk pass-through. The trunk itself has a rather pinched opening but now measures 7.1 cubic feet versus only 5.0 cubic feet in the old car. A dealer-option wind-blocker can be mounted out of the way in the top of the trunk compartment when it's not spanning the rear seats.
As before, the fabric roof folds into a pile on top of the rear portion of the car, but it's not a visual barrier in your rear-view mirror. The three-layer top is a typically well-designed piece of German engineering and effectively seals out noise. Hit a button at the windshield header and the top will lower in only 9.5 seconds or rise back into place in only 11 seconds, at speeds of up to 31 mph. Very cool, and one of the primary benefits of a power top that's not hidden under a hard tonneau. With all four windows raised, the wind blocker in place, and the three-level seat heaters on high, you can be quite comfortable on Pacific Coast Highway on a windy, 60-degree day, talk to your passenger, and listen to the optional Fender stereo. Yep, Fender, famous for its guitars and amplifiers, has engineered its first automotive audio application (beginning with the '12 Passat). There's even a special Fender Edition model for 2.5L and Turbo Beetles. (Click here for info on the '50s, '60s, and '70s Editions.)
The front seats fold forward easily to give access to the rear, and the seatbacks are scooped out to accommodate rear knees, so a five-foot, eleven-inch adult can sit pretty comfortably behind someone of similar stature for a short jaunt to the beach. No one other than kids will want to be back there for more than an hour or so but, hey, that's the case with most four-seat convertibles, and VW points out that there's half an inch additional rear headroom compared with the old car due to the elongated roof. We'll take every millimeter of it. Overall passenger volume has increased from 78 cubic feet to 81.4.
Top up, top down, this car is pretty fun to drive, with a supple ride and nicely communicative and reasonably precise steering. The brake pedal is a little soft on initial application but firms up through its travel. There's only a little bit of torque steer, mostly in the Turbo, and all three engines are well up to the job of propelling the vehicle, which weighs about 225 lb more than the coupe. (Curb weights range from 3206 lb to 3340 lb.) Still, there's plenty of room to add sportiness to the Beetle convertible, and Rainer Michel, VW's vice president of product marketing and strategy, readily admits that "the Beetle [is built on] a platform that you can do a lot with. We will have lots of versions, and we will keep our enthusiast audience happy." Michel doesn't offer any particulars, and we're not holding our breath for a Beetle R with serious performance modifications like the concept that debuted at the Geneva show last March. (The Beetle R-Line coupe that debuted at the 2012 Los Angeles Auto Show offers only styling tweaks.) But the Beetle convertible's suspension, steering, and brakes, while good, could all easily be sharpened, and a future variant of the Turbo thus tweaked could make a compelling poor man's -- or poor woman's -- Porsche Boxster.
2013 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible
Base prices: Beetle Convertible 2.5L, $24,995; Beetle TDI Convertible, $27,895; Beetle Turbo Convertible, $27,795
On sale: December 2012
2013 Volkswagen Beetle
2013 Volkswagen Beetle

New For 2013

The third-generation Beetle debuted for 2012 with a more muscular stance and a retro design. New this year are a diesel-powered Beetle TDI and a convertible model available with the same three engines as the coupe. The new Fender Edition features a Fender premium audio system, a sunburst-style dashboard, Fender logos, special seat stitching, brushed chrome mirror caps, xenon headlamps, and eighteen-inch wheels.


The Volkswagen Beetle is based on the Golf, a car that offers a superb balance of comfort and superior driving dynamics. However, the base Beetle has been stripped of its multilink rear suspension and electric power steering. Instead, it has a less sophisticated torsion-beam setup in the rear and overboosted hydraulic power steering. Power for the base car comes from the 170-hp five-cylinder that is peppy but somewhat gravelly at high rpm. Fortunately, there are better options. The diesel four-cylinder is capable of returning up to 41 mpg on the highway. The Beetle Turbo is as poised and engaging as the GTI that inspired it. Its steering weight is superb, the suspension is firmer without being jarring, and prodigious power comes from the turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder. The base Beetle uses a five-speed manual or a six-speed automatic; the Turbo and the TDI raise the engagement factor with a six-speed manual or a six-speed dual-clutch automatic that delivers crisp, speedy shifts. The Beetle’s interior features slick body-color accents and the simple, intuitive controls that Volkswagen is known for. There’s enough headroom for six-footers in the rear but only enough legroom for small children. If you’re a sucker for style, the Beetle is a smart small car with substance beneath the surface.


Standard are ABS; front, side, and side curtain air bags; tire-pressure monitoring; and traction and stability control. The Intelligent Crash Response System turns off the fuel pump, unlocks the doors, and activates the hazard lights in the event of a severe collision.

You'll like:

  • Classic looks
  • Great visibility
  • Supple ride

You won't like:

  • Scant rear legroom
  • Not as sophisticated as a Golf
  • Loose steering in base model

Key Competitors For The 2013 Volkswagen Beetle

  • Hyundai Veloster
  • Mini Cooper
  • Nissan Juke
2013 Volkswagen Beetle Turbo ConvertibleAUTP 140800 BEETLE 11
When it debuted for the 2012 model year, the newly redesigned Volkswagen Beetle had a lot to live up to. Everyone knows about the iconic original Volkswagen Beetle, which made a name for itself as the “people’s car” over its sixty-plus-year model run. Then came the cute and bubbly Volkswagen New Beetle, which gave the world Beetle mania all over again in the late 1990s. To top it off, when this particular tornado red Volkswagen Beetle Turbo convertible arrived at our doorstep for a Four Seasons test, we compared it with one of our favorite hot hatchbacks of all time, the Volkswagen GTI.

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2013 Volkswagen Beetle Specifications

Quick Glance:
2.5L I5Engine
Fuel economy City:
22 MPG
Fuel economy Highway:
31 MPG
170 hp @ 5700rpm
177 ft lb of torque @ 4250rpm
  • Air Conditioning
  • Power Windows
  • Power Locks
  • Power Seats (optional)
  • Steering Wheel Tilt
  • Cruise Control
  • Sunroof (optional)
  • ABS
  • Stabilizer Front
  • Stabilizer Rear (optional)
  • Electronic Traction Control
  • Electronic Stability Control
  • Locking Differential (optional)
  • Limited Slip Differential (optional)
  • Airbag Driver
  • Airbag Passenger
  • Airbag Side Front
  • Airbag Side Rear (optional)
  • Radio
  • CD Player
  • CD Changer (optional)
  • DVD (optional)
  • Navigation (optional)
36,000 miles / 36 months
60,000 miles / 60 months
Unlimited miles / 144 months
36,000 miles / 36 months
36,000 miles / 36 months
Recall Date
Volkswagen is recalling certain model year 2012-2013 Beetle vehicles, manufactured from February 2012, through August 2012, and equipped with leather sport seats. If the right front passenger seat gets wet, the occupant control module may not properly detect the presence of a child restraint installed in the seat.
If the control module does not detect a child seat installed, the airbag will not turn off. If the airbag does not turn off, in the event of a crash necessitating front airbag deployment, a child secured in the child seat may be at an increased risk for serious injury.
Volkswagen will notify owners, and replace the control modules, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin during January 2013. Owners may contact Volkswagen at 1-800-822-8987.
Potential Units Affected

Recall Date
Volkswagen Group of America, Inc. (Volkswagen) is recalling certain model year 2013-2015 Beetle vehicles manufactured June 13, 2013, to July 3, 2014. The glass sunroofs in the affected vehicles may break when the vehicles are operated over a hard road surface or strike a pothole.
Vehicle occupants could be injured by falling glass. A sunroof break during vehicle operation also increases the risk of driver distraction and a resulting vehicle crash.
Volkswagen will notify owners, and dealers will replace the sunroof, free of charge. The recall began on December 15, 2015. Owners may contact Volkswagen customer service at 1-800-822-8987. Volkswagen's number for this recall is 60B9.
Potential Units Affected
Volkswagen Group of America, Inc.

Recall Date
Volkswagen Group of America, Inc. (Volkswagen) is recalling certain model year 2011-2013 Jetta vehicles manufactured March 1, 2010, to November 30, 2012, and 2012-2013 Beetle vehicles manufactured March 1, 2011, to July 31, 2013. The durability of the rear trailing arms may be reduced in vehicles whose rear trailing arms have been previously deformed, such as a result of a rear or side-rear impact crash.
The reduced durability of the trailing arm may result in its sudden fracture, possibly causing loss of vehicle control and increasing the risk of a crash.
Volkswagen will notify owners, and dealers will install a sheet metal inlay on the rear axle trailing arms designed to prevent a sudden loss of control in the event of trailing arm sudden fracture, free of charge. The recall began April 7, 2015. Owners may contact Volkswagen customer service at 1-800-893-5298.
Potential Units Affected
Volkswagen Group of America, Inc.

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