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New convertible Volkswagen Beetle has same old charm

January 19, 2013 12:00:00 AM PST
In the history of fun cars, the convertible version of the original Volkswagen Beetle would probably make any list of favorites. It just sort of screams "Let's go to the beach."

It's in that fun-loving spirit that VW came up with its new version of the convertible beetle for 2013.

Arriving just over a year after the redesigned Beetle coupe, the convertible takes that same classic Beetle shape but adds the open-air experience. To launch this vintage-inspired model, Volkswagen is looking back at the convertible's history through the decades with special editions of the car. The 50s edition wears classic black, the 60s edition gets a very 60s shade of light blue and the disco-era of the 70s is honored with a metallic brown with tan interior. You will have to find your own "pet rock" to go with it.

There's still a lot of charm in the vintage Beetle convertibles, which is why so many can still be seen on the roads in Southern California. The new one was designed with a lot of that charm in mind, and as a car to drive every day, it's pretty much better in every way, especially under the hood.

Those vintage Beetles rolled out of showrooms with less than 50 horsepower - and really didn't want to be rushed. Today's Beetle comes standard with 170 horsepower. Step up to the turbo model and get 200. Or, for the first time ever, the Beetle convertible is available with Volkswagen's TDI clean diesel, promising up to 41 mpg on the highway.

Then there are the safety features. There are many in the new one compared to just about none back in the early days. New ones get airbags, stability control and a much better structure to handle a crash.

Sure, there are other choices in convertibles. Even the new Ford Mustang evokes the ones from an earlier time, another example of design heritage. And like the Beetle, it offers room for four and a fairly affordable price tag. But the Beetle casts its own distinctive silhouette and radiates its own kind of charm, just as it did all those years ago.


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