Cars really don’t get much cuter than this. A Beetle, a convertible, AND it’s pink. But don’t let the cuteness fool you into thinking this isn’t a serious car. It’s less Strawberry Shortcake, more Wonder Woman.
by Kimberly Phipps
If you’ve never driven a current generation Volkswagen Beetle, you will be pleasantly surprised—maybe even shocked!—at how roomy the interior is. Since the car looks small, curvy and cute on the outside, you might think that only a diminutive, petite little sorority girl would be comfortable inside. Not true! The driver and front passenger seats are nice, wide, and comfy. I had legroom to spare, and even with another adult in the front seat, I didn’t feel as if we were being crammed together, bumping elbows. And, although this car is a convertible, my head didn’t even come close to the top when it was closed. Even the back seat passengers have a fairly comfortable ride, and there’s plenty of room for a couple of carseats.
The car I drove was the super special, unicorn-rarely-spotted-in-the wild-Pink Beetle, which will be available in very limited edition in Fall of 2017. So if this is your Barbie/Tab can dream car, start making plans now to track one down. There won’t be many of them. And they do tie in with breast cancer awareness (not that you need an excuse to get one!) BUT, they are available in many other fun and unusual colors—including gold, orange, and bottle green, to name a few.
The interior style is just as hip as the exterior. The gorgeous fuchsia color is used to style the inside as well as the outside. (In the non-pink Beetle, the exterior color is brought inside as well). The styling is top-notch, with super-sturdy materials throughout the interior. From the steering wheel to the gear shift to the AC knobs, everything feels super solid—nothing feels lightweight or plastic-y. It is German, after all! The visual style keeps a little of the rounded shapes that give it just enough of that groovy/retro feel, but not too much. In the pink model, the seats have a cool plaid design with of the pink running through it. My one complaint: the glossy black interior is gorgeous, but it will show every single speck of dust that touches it. Have some wipes ready. But to make up for it, you do get customizable interior ambient lighting, and not one but TWO glove boxes!
Although the Beetle design is retro, it doesn’t lack for decent tech. A backup camera is standard, as is Bluetooth connectivity. Keyless access and a push-button start gets you going without having to dig for your keys. Smartphone integration connects quickly with Android Auto or Apple CarPlay. You also have the option to use VW Car-Net App-Connect, which gives you navigation, remembers where you parked, emergency service, etc. but it is a subscription service through SiriusXM. You get a 3-month trial to see if you like it.
As much as I wanted a convertible when I was a teen, my mom refused, citing safety reasons. (Sad face emoji) Today’s convertible 2017 Volkswagen Beetle would have given me some good counterpoint arguments. First, the convertible comes with two roll bars behind the seat headrests, which engage if there’s an accident. Along with the usual, mandated safety features that make any 2017 car safer than its predecessors (anti-lock breaks, multiple airbags, electronic stability control, etc.), several new driver-assist radar electronic options are available, which help avoid accidents. Among these are rear traffic alert, lane departure warning, and blind spot monitoring.
Music lover? Of course you are. This is one area where convertible lovers normally have to make a huge sacrifice. Wind in your hair often means you can’t hear the tunes. But the Fender Premium sound system does a pretty good job, even with the top down. On my test drive, the first song that played on the radio was the Go-go’s “Vacation”, which is about as perfect a song for a convertible on sunny day that you’re ever going to get. Of course, the music sounds a little better with the top up, but hey—that’s just physics.
Speaking of the drop-top, this one makes the whole affair pretty easy. Unlike the crank tops of long ago (ugh!) this one is a breeze to raise and lower. You will have to lift a finger, but only one—the whole thing is electric. And, you don’t have to be at a complete stop. The top can be lowered or raised at speeds below 30mph. When the top is up, there was surprisingly little road noise. Soundproofing is excellent, especially for a convertible.
Driving a Beetle is meant to be fun, and it doesn’t disappoint. There are different trim options for different budgets, but the engine is the same—a 1.8L Turbo, which gives you plenty of power and gusto on the road for passing. What you won’t find on any of the convertibles is an option for a manual transmission—they’re all automatics.
The one disappointment is the gas mileage. It’s a small car, so you might assume you’d get better gas mileage than 24 in the city and 31 on the highway. There are small SUV’s out there with better gas mileage than that! So if you’re coming from a hybrid or an eco car, you might be spending more money on gas than you’d think for a car this small.
Volkswagen offers custom nameplates for the back. The one I drove said #pinkbeetle, but you can get with the nickname of your choice! How’s that for personalization?
Built like a cute little tank
Super peppy drive
Low gas mileage