2013 Volkswagen Beetle

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$18,995

starting MSRP

2013 Volkswagen Beetle
2013 Volkswagen Beetle

Key specs

Base trim shown

Overview

The good:

  • Retro design influences
  • Interior quality
  • Diesel fuel economy

The bad:

  • Base engine gas mileage
  • Folded backseat not flat with cargo floor

8 trims

Starting msrp listed lowest to highest price

Wondering which trim is right for you?

Our 2013 Volkswagen Beetle trim comparison will help you decide.

Notable features

  • New convertible model
  • Gas or diesel power
  • Beetle Turbo now makes 210 hp
  • New Beetle Turbo R-Line model
  • Manual or automatic
  • Optional navigation system

2013 Volkswagen Beetle review: Our expert's take

By Kelsey Mays

The verdict:

Versus the competiton:

People will cozy up to the redesigned Volkswagen Beetle convertible for the same reason they like Furbies, pugs and YouTube toddlers: It’s cute. It’s also better in many ways than its predecessor, which went eight model years without a redesign, but beauty is only sheet-metal deep.

The 2013 Volkswagen Beetle convertible has plenty of throwback flair, but once the groovy wears off, the grumbling begins.

Redesigned alongside the Beetle hardtop, which arrived a year earlier, the Beetle convertible has a power cloth top and three available engines, including a four-cylinder turbo and a diesel TDI version. We tested the base five-cylinder car, which gets a standard six-speed automatic, as well as a TDI. Click here to compare the Beetle hardtop and convertible, or here to read our review of the hardtop.

Keeping the Look
A few inches wider and 7.3 inches longer than the outgoing New Beetle convertible (which, like the coupe, has now dropped the “New”), the convertible retains the coupe’s lengthy profile. Seventeen-inch alloy wheels are standard, with 18s optional.

Now fully automatic, the powered top latches and unlatches itself from the windshield frame rather than relying on a manual release. Our test car’s cloth top took just 11 seconds to lower and 15 seconds to raise, including the windows. The power-folding top stores in a compartment separate from the trunk, leaving cargo room at an uncompromised 7.1 cubic feet. That’s less than half the space in the hardtop Beetle, but it beats the previous-generation convertible’s 5 cubic feet, not to mention other small droptops from Mazda, Mini and Fiat. Another plus: Volkswagen ditched the last Beetle’s center pass-through in favor of a proper split-folding rear seat.

Alas, the trunk opening is so small you have to wedge small suitcases in, and the lid dumps leftover rainwater straight into the cargo bay. Hope you like your groceries wet. Want a better trunk? Get a Ford Mustang convertible; it has nearly 10 cubic feet of space and no roof intrusion, with a larger opening to boot.

Clumsy Drivetrain
The base 170-horsepower, five-cylinder engine chuffs along quicker than the anemic Fiat 500c and the non-S Mini Cooper, but it revs hoarsely, and passing at highway speeds requires most of the drivetrain’s reserves. Climb an on-ramp, and the engine feels spent halfway up. The six-speed automatic helps little, stepping through intermediate gears on its way to two- or three-gear kickdowns. It evokes early six-speed automatic transmissions, whose expansive choices bred all the decisiveness of a kid staring down the Lego aisle. Some editors noticed too much accelerator lag too — not good.

The automaker’s Sport mode quells some of the transmission delay by sticking to lower gears, but it comes at the expense of fuel efficiency.

The Beetle Turbo and its 210-hp, turbocharged four-cylinder may be the better choice for the convertible (earlier 2013 models made 200 hp), which weighs some 200 pounds more than its hardtop sibling. Volkswagen says it hits 60 mph in around 7 seconds with either transmission. That’s considerably quicker than the five-cylinder version’s 8.6 seconds. The weaker engine earns little reward in gas mileage, with EPA numbers (21/27/23 mpg city/highway/combined) that are closer to the V-6 Mustang and Chevrolet Camaro convertibles than to Fiat’s and Mini’s figures. Volkswagen says the new, turbo 1.8-liter four-cylinder that makes 170 hp and 184 pounds-feet of torque will replace the 2.5-liter engine across several VW cars, including the Beetle sometime late in the 2014 model year. EPA mileage figures are still forthcoming, but Volkswagen reckons the engine should boost highway mileage in the double-digit percent (read more about it here). As of this writing, we have yet to drive any Volkswagen with the new engine.

The Beetle Turbo convertible gets better mileage than the five-cylinder, with either transmission fetching an EPA-estimated 24 mpg combined, but it erases those gains by recommending premium gas.

The Beetle TDI, meanwhile, comes with a manual or automatic, both of which fall in the 9-second range for zero-to-60 sprints. It boasts EPA-estimated combined mileage in the low 30s. But that’s on diesel fuel, which is 38 cents, or 11 percent, more per gallon than regular unleaded as of this writing. (Differences between diesel and gas prices vary by region.)

The TDI feels slow, with too much old-school turbo lag before the rush of torque that should be familiar to anyone who’s driven a diesel. Perhaps it’s to address wheel-spin, which comes all too easily as the turbo-diesel four-cylinder’s 236 pounds-feet of torque arrive. One editor said he loved the power, but faster accelerator progression — and stickier rubber than our testers Hankook Optimo P215/55R17 tires — would have hastened its arrival.

A six-speed manual is standard on the TDI. Our tester’s optional six-speed dual-clutch automatic can downshift two gears at once when you prod the accelerator, but it waits too long to do just that, and it sometimes lurches getting back into 1st gear as you come to a stop. Volkswagen has good records for diesel engines and dual-clutch transmissions, so the TDI’s behavior disappoints.

Sloppy at Speed
It’s ironic that Volkswagen would name some of the Beetle convertible’s trim levels after decades, offering ’50s, ’60s and ’70s editions. The oversized steering wheel starts out heavy with little power assist, but get up to highway speeds and it lightens into a sloppy, meandering helm — the sort you’d get in a bygone era. Insulation, too, seems yesteryear-bad. The soft-top keeps wind noise at bay, but adjacent traffic howls away; you’ll keep checking to see if the windows are shut.

Instant body roll accompanies any quick steering motions, but if you find a sustained bend, the Beetle hunkers down and corners well — surprising, given the ungainliness heading in. Beetle Turbos get a sport-tuned suspension with thicker front stabilizer bars as well as a limited-slip differential to improve corner-carving.

Turbos also have larger front disc brakes, which I can only hope improve on our test car’s disappointing setup. It’s hard to know where the blame goes — to the smallish disc brakes or to the low-tech, three-channel antilock system — but the squishy pedal lends underwhelming stopping power. The five-cylinder and diesel-powered Beetle TDI have the same braking hardware.

The clumsiness carries through to ride quality. Despite numerous reinforcements versus the hardtop Beetle and a claimed 20 percent improvement in rigidity over the last Beetle convertible, the car creaks and flexes over manhole covers and expansion joints, with a busy, undulating ride in between. It’s curious, given the Beetle convertible has an independent rear suspension versus the base hardtop Beetle’s low-tech, semi-independent rear.

Pesky Interior
Given the Beetle convertible’s price — around $25,500 including the destination charge — the interior feels higher on gimmicks than quality. Glossy paint covers the dash and upper door panels, and there are real metal accents around the glove compartment and door handles. But a sea of cheap, black plastics greets elbows and forearms elsewhere, and the car’s flimsy climate controls recall the cost-cut Jetta’s. Despite the starting price, the convertible lacks important conveniences like vanity-mirror lights or extending sun visors. Our car lacked the optional center armrest, drawing complaints galore. C’mon, VW — a $15,340 Hyundai Accent has a standard armrest.

The bungles continue. The grab handles along the doors sit too far forward to easily reach or use as leverage to close the doors, and editors found the steering wheel too far away, despite good range for the telescoping adjustment. If you pull the seat forward for a comfortable steering reach, the pedals are too close. Both front seats return to their original positions if you let someone in back — nice — but they employ slow crank knobs to adjust the recline. If you plan to share the car, it’s a drag.

Visibility is another problem. The low roofline hurts sightlines out front, and the tiny rear window — most of which is obstructed by two massive head restraints in back — leaves too much traffic to the imagination. Typical of a convertible, the Beetle’s soft-top requires massive C-pillars that swallow much of your over-the-shoulder view. Put the top down, and the folded riggings take up much of the view straight back. It’s vexing, given many convertibles with bad top-up visibility improve on that when the top is down.

Similar to the hardtop Beetle, the convertible’s backseat is passable for adults. One advantage: If you go over a big bump, your head hits the canvas roof — a more forgiving surface than the glass hatch over the hardtop’s backseat.

Safety, Features & Pricing
The Beetle convertible has not been crash-tested; because of its structural differences, ratings for the coupe do not carry over. Standard safety features include the required antilock brakes and electronic stability system, plus front and side-impact airbags; the latter extend upward to offer head protection. Standard rollover bars behind the rear seats deploy automatically if the car tips.

Since its redesign, the Beetle’s reliability has been awful, with predicted new-car reliability much worse than average. Given our test car’s incipient noises, it’s hard to see that improving.

The Beetle convertible comes well-equipped, with standard heated leatherette (imitation leather) seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, 17-inch alloy wheels and a pretty good base stereo with Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, and iPod/USB integration. Curiously, a center armrest and steering-wheel audio controls are optional. Those features come in various option packages, as does a Fender stereo, which was in our TDI and was very good, one editor noted. Keyless access with push-button start and a navigation system are also optional. The ’50s, ’60s and ’70s editions add unique colors, side mirrors, wheels and interior themes. The ’60s edition serves as a sort of range-topper, running into the low $30,000s. That’s not so groovy — similar money buys a well-equipped V-6 Mustang convertible.

Beetle Convertible in the Market
Through the first half of 2013, Beetle sales are up a handsome 67 percent; in fact, the car now outsells Volkswagen’s Golf/GTI hatchback. Shoppers should have no trouble finding a Beetle convertible: Cars.com new-car inventory shows the convertible makes up 55 percent of all Beetles. But shop the competition first; the last Beetle convertible prioritized looks over drivability and practicality. Its successor improves on the latter, but the pretty face still asks for too many compromises.

Send Kelsey an email  

Consumer reviews

Rating breakdown (out of 5):
  • Comfort 4.5
  • Interior design 4.5
  • Performance 4.6
  • Value for the money 4.5
  • Exterior styling 4.8
  • Reliability 4.5

Most recent consumer reviews

4.6

FUN, FUN, FUN to drive!

Kids are grown and this car is simply for FUN! The VW Beetle wasn't even on our list when we started looking for a convertible. We test drove the more "practical" convertibles including the Volvo C70 (2nd place on our list), the VW Eos, Toyota Solara, and Chrysler 200 convertible. The VW with the 2.0 turbo is the one that put a smile on both our faces. The others felt heavy and a bit TOO comfortable. The 2.0 Turbo has plenty of power and the new design is lower, longer and wider changing it from a cutesy-mobile to a very nice looking car. Ours has the Fender sound system which I HIGHLY recommend. At 6'2", I have NO issues fitting in this car, and the trunk--although not big--is not tiny either and is the same size w/top up or down. It's big enough for a weekend getaway or a basic trip to the grocery.

4.7

retirement car

About two years now since got the TDI convertible. No problems and very reliable. One recall for some airbag issue; no problems with that, and nothing else save regular oil changes and an unfortunately flat tire. Awful lot of fun and a blast to drive. Not practical, but then we have a van to haul things.

2.3

I Own a Lemon, but VW Hides This Fact

When I bought this car off the new lot I was excited for how it looked and felt. When the first rain came and the hatchback trunk retained the water, pouring water into both the back seat and the trunk when opening the trunk long after rain had stopped, I brought my car back to VW. They told me that there was no issue and that’s just how the car is designed. How is that not an issue?! I cannot open my trunk till a day after it rains, hoping it doesn’t rain 2 days in a row. There is more issues, as there always will be. When a part of the sunroof (I got the fancy silver beetle with the black roof and special upgrades all over it) was recalled, the VW mechanics ripped the fabric that blocks the sunroof when not in use. They claimed it was already ripped, which was a lie, and since then the rip only gets bigger so I have not been able to use the sunroof since. It should not of been made with that cheap fabric in the first place. As far as cheap parts goes, it didn’t take long after warranty was over for lots of the cheap plastic things to start breaking around the car. I cannot turn on the overhead lights anymore as they literally just fell without being touched more then 5 times. My car is only used for going to work and groceries, which everything is within 5-10 miles from me so my mileage and usage is much much lower then the average person. Anyways another thing that added to the list of issues after a few years included the driver’s door not locking majority of the time. With this car you always have to check the door without the key nearby or use the key lock, which hides under a plastic cover at the driver’s door handle. It not being able to lock actually gets very irritating because if it is unable to autolock while the car is in motion, you will constantly hear “click, click” every few seconds through your entire drive. That part makes me a little glad I don’t have long drives, because how does anyone else deal with this? I love how the car looks for I was fan of the Beetle design when I was little, but I loathe my car. The only thing that keeps me from trading is the dealerships knowing those beetles aren’t worth for anything so trade in value is xxxx, and every time I save up the money something major goes on in life to zap my savings away. Unlucky to be stuck with a lemon, especially when VW used to be known for cars that last so for them to make such a flawed car is ridiculous.

See all 102 consumer reviews

Warranty

New car and Certified Pre-Owned programs by Volkswagen
New car program benefits
Bumper-to-bumper
36 months/36,000 miles
Corrosion
144 months/unlimited distance
Powertrain
60 months/60,000 miles
Maintenance
36 months/36,000 miles
Roadside assistance
36 months/36,000 miles
Certified Pre-Owned program benefits
Maximum age/mileage
MY 2015-MY 2017 vehicles/75,000 miles; MY 2018- MY 2019 vehicles/72,000 miles; MY 2020 and newer vehicles/75,000 miles
Basic warranty terms
Vehicles purchased on or after 1/5/21: MY 2017 & older, 2 yrs/24,000 miles (whichever is 1st) limited warranty; MY 2018-19, 1 yr/12,000 miles (whichever is 1st) limited warranty; MY 2020 & newer, 2 years/24,000 miles (whichever is 1st) limited warranty
Dealer certification required
100-plus point inspection
Roadside assistance
Yes
View all cpo program details

Have questions about warranties or CPO programs?

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