Triple White New Beetle Convertible Review

Megan Benoit
by Megan Benoit
triple white new beetle convertible review

There are only two reasons why anyone would buy a New Beetle convertible: a craving for cute or a need for nostalgia. Once you rule out these emotional drivers (so to speak), you're far better off in any number of more economical and practical machines. But that's OK, isn't it? Acquiring a Ferrari isn't exactly a rational decision. So analyzing the New Beetle's desirability comes down to this: does it suck enough to put off the retro- fashionistas?

The New Beetle's (NB) exterior remains unchanged since the model's '06 refresh. Pedants will immediately note that our Triple White special edition tester has a black convertible top. The top's cover– a fundamentally useless bag that encloses the lid when it's in the open pram position– justifies the moniker.

Drop-top notwithstanding, the NB remains as perkily rounded as ever. As the design approaches its tenth anniversary, I'm sure its admirers are ready to pronounce it iconic. Me? Not so much. At best, the NB is inoffensively attractive in a boy-band-loving heart-doodling sweet-sixteen sort of way.

Unlike the re-Germanized VW Rabbit/Golf, the NB remains resolutely ‘hecho en Mexico.' Its interior offers occupants the usual low rent mariachi medley of nice looking, cheap feeling plastic. In fact, the NB's materials and fit and finish are to the GTI/Rabbit's what a wool scarf is to a cashmere Pashmina. How much does this car cost again?

The NB's price may not be out of reach for its target market, but its switchgear is. Thanks to a disproportionately large dash, no matter what control my fingers sought, I had to stretch that extra uncomfortable inch to attain it. And when my digits arrived at their destination, the NB's nasty switch snickery and imprecise button pokery played like a toy piano.

Though lacking in lumbar adjustment, the NB's seats are comfy and supportive. Unfortunately, with the lid flipped, the warm leatherette seems to melt on your burning flesh. (Back sweat. Gack!) With the top up, and the flattened roofline renders the backseat inaccessible to all but masochistic Romanian gymnasts. On the positive side, the NB's backseat doubles as cargo space, and the trunk is larger than you'll find in most convertibles.

Fire-up the NB's engine and savor the roar of the diesel… wait… gas-fired 2.5-liter five. Lidless at low to moderate speeds, the powerplant's sonic strain eclipses any chance of blissing with the birds and bees. With an erected hood, the NB packs silence all around.

All that noise provides very little in the way of motivation. Pitted against 3200 lbs., the mill's 150hp and 170 ft.-lbs. of torque isn't… enough… to… get a move on. Whacking the NB's six-speed manumatic tranny helps the hunt for power, but even at full chat, the New Beetle Convertible remains irredeemably fat and obstinately lazy.

Guide the NB onto a twisty piece of tarmac and the drop top's lofty price tag begins to make some kind of sense. The Beetle's superb suspension, touchy yet powerful brakes and safe, predictable handling bring on the happy whilst carving corners. Punch the NB's throttle and the fun stops– if indeed it ever got started. Unless you're driving downhill, all the McPherson struts and stabilizer bars in the world can't make this A-platformed bug boogie.

Like many German cabrios, the NB's thick A-pillars serve as a roll-bar– which is just as well given their effect on visibility. Should the emergency braking assist, ABS, traction control and safety-oriented handling fail, a pop-up roll bar and a slew of airbags will save your Speck.

Minus a few hundred pounds, plus a few ponies, the NB would provide serious hoonage. Or, if we're being demographically correct, a little extra oomph would summon more of that traditional VW virtue called "fun." A brief look at the engine compartment reveals a stunning amount of unused space. Why VW hasn't thrown a bigger engine in the NB's nose is beyond me.

Did I say bigger? How about "more powerful and efficient." If you consider the fact that the similarly priced current gen GTI's four-cylinder 2.0-liter turbo stables more horse AND gets better mileage than the NB's miserable lump, you gotta wonder if the NBTW should have been called the NBMFW (New Beetle Miami Fashion Victim).

At $26,630, the Triple White New Beetle Convertible is no bargain. For less money, a style-conscious sun seeker could purchase a better driver's car (Mazda MX-5), a genuine show stopper (Pontiac Solstice) or split the difference (MINI convertible). This is, of course, exactly what tens of thousands of sensible American car buyers have done, and will continue to do– especially when they consider VW's atrocious reliability record.

In fact, the only buyer who'd be happy in a NBTW is someone who really, really wants one. While it's hard to understand the urge, you gotta admire their dedication.

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  • Terry meade Terry meade on Sep 08, 2007

    Well, I just bought the car - on looks only. It is beautiful and then I was surprised to feel how heavy it is - that was a plus - it goes too fast for me - I am 75 - but a VW fan from1969 - even before. I have had the great bus with the mickey mouse windows, the ghia, the cabriolet for the last 25 years - one for 10 and one for 15 and it still runs like a top - but this little baby - I have named her Alice - as she totally has to be female - she will be my last car. She is totally lovely. The Eyes made it mine - I loved the PT Cruiser convertible (only the convertible) because it looked like it came off a 1937 movie set but it was a little too long or something - and besides my mechanic who makes my cars run perfectly - would not agree to handle anything but a VW. Be nice to this baby - only 3,000 made and one day she will be worth a bundle. I love the rag top. It should have been white but then it would not wear as well??? maybe???

  • Jdmartinjax Jdmartinjax on Jun 25, 2011

    And what in the world is with you people acting as if anyone who goes outside of your generalizations and stereotypes is some sort of freak??? People are allowed to like what they like, or did Cheney eliminate that law? I swear I am not retired, and I am a man's man, love women--before you start casting aspersions--love to drive a car that was built to drive, and not built to sell to a demographic. My NBC turbo is Galactic Blue with a tan interior, and a truly beautiful car, but hey what do I know? I just went to art school, and then later graduated from the university (Of WV, not VW) The stereo with 10 speakers and a Blaupunkt blaster is all I need to rock out, the roof is silent, and the only thing that rattles is whatever I happened to leave in one of the side door pockets--otherwise it could not be tighter, and I am looking at 81,000 miles. VW ROCKS!

  • Fred I owned a 2001 MR2 for 15 years nothing ever went wrong with the vehicle. It was always exciting to drive most people thought it was a boxster. The only negative was storage and legroom considering I'm a little over 6:4 the only reason it was sold was as a second car and a grandchild on the way we needed something more practical.
  • V16 I'm sure most people could find 155,365 reasons to choose another luxury brand SUV and pocket the difference.
  • ChristianWimmer I don’t want this autonomous driving garbage technology in any car.My main fear is this. Once this technology is perfected, freedom-hating eco hysterical governments (crap hole Germany, UK and the European Union in general) will attempt to ban private car ownership because “you don’t need to own a car anymore since the car can come to you, drop you off and then proceed to service the next customer”... no thanks. Having your own car is FREEDOM.Go away, autonomous driving. I also enjoy the act of driving a car. I want to drive, not be driven.
  • Mike-NB2 The solution is obvious here. Everyone should be raised in an Irish Catholic family and then all it takes is a sideways glance from mom and you're atoning for that sin for the rest of your life. My mother has been dead for decades and I still want to apologize to her. Catholic guilt is a real thing. 😁
  • Wjtinfwb A good car. I don't find Accord's as appealing as they were a decade or two ago, not that they've gotten worse, but the competition has gotten better. It would be my choice if I had to pay for it myself and maintain it for 10 years and 150k miles. They'd be very reliable and no doubt inexpensive miles, but probably a pretty boring 10 years.