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!

  • Nrd515 I bought an '88 S10 Blazer with the 4.3. We had it 4 years and put just about 48K on it with a bunch of trips to Nebraska and S. Dakota to see relatives. It had a couple of minor issues when new, a piece of trim fell off the first day, and it had a seriously big oil leak soon after we got it. The amazinly tiny starter failed at about 40K, it was fixed under some sort of secret warranty and we got a new Silverado as a loaner. Other than that, and a couple of tires that blew when I ran over some junk on the road, it was a rock. I hated the dash instrumentation, and being built like a gorilla, it was about an inch and a half too narrow for my giant shoulders, but it drove fine, and was my second most trouble free vehicle ever, only beaten by my '82 K5 Blazer, which had zero issues for nearly 50K miles. We sold the S10 to a friend, who had it over 20 years and over 400,000 miles on the original short block! It had a couple of transmissions, a couple of valve jobs, a rear end rebuild at 300K, was stolen and vandalized twice, cut open like a tin can when a diabetic truck driver passed out(We were all impressed at the lack of rust inside the rear quarters at almost 10 years old, and it just went on and on. Ziebart did a good job on that Blazer. All three of his sons learned to drive in it, and it was only sent to the boneyard when the area above the windshield had rusted to the point it was like taking a shower when it rained. He now has a Jeep that he's put a ton of money into. He says he misses the S10's reliablity a lot these days, the Jeep is in the shop a lot.
  • Jeff S Most densely populated areas have emission testing and removing catalytic converters and altering pollution devices will cause your vehicle to fail emission testing which could effect renewing license plates. In less populated areas where emission testing is not done there would probably not be any legal consequences and the converter could either be removed or gutted both without having to buy specific parts for bypassing emissions. Tampering with emission systems would make it harder to resell a vehicle but if you plan on keeping the vehicle and literally running it till the wheels fall off there is not much that can be done if there is no emission testing. I did have a cat removed on a car long before mandatory emission testing and it did get better mpgs and it ran better. Also had a cat gutted on my S-10 which was close to 20 years old which increased performance and efficiency but that was in a state that did not require emission testing just that reformulated gas be sold during the Summer months. I would probably not do it again because after market converters are not that expensive on older S-10s compared to many of the newer vehicles. On newer vehicles it can effect other systems that are related to the operating and the running of the vehicle. A little harder to defeat pollution devices on newer vehicles with all the systems run by microprocessors but if someone wants to do it they can. This law could be addressing the modified diesels that are made into coal rollers just as much as the gasoline powered vehicles with cats. You probably will still be able to buy equipment that would modify the performance of a vehicles as long as the emission equipment is not altered.
  • ToolGuy I wonder if Vin Diesel requires DEF.(Does he have issues with Sulfur in concentrations above 15ppm?)
  • ToolGuy Presented for discussion:
  • Kevin Ford can do what it's always done. Offer buyouts to retirement age employees, and transfers to operating facilities to those who aren't retirement age. Plus, the transition to electric isn't going to be a finger snap one time event. It's going to occur over a few model years. What's a more interesting question is: Where will today's youth find jobs in the auto industry given the lower employment levels?