It’s a given that when you get a chance to test drive a convertible for a week, the skies will open and the top will remain closed.
What I couldn’t predict during the week I had the 2018 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible was in addition to at least one downpour, the temperature climbed above 30 degrees Celsius two or three days making a drive with the top down uncomfortable.
When temperatures reach that high you want the air conditioning blasting out cool air.
But on the days the temperature dipped below 30 C, the VW Beetle was a fun car to drive and drew lots of smiles and many; many punch buggies from kids walking along the sidewalk with friends or parents.
It’s not often a car draws a smile from me as I walk towards it but the VW Beetle did evoke a smile, especially in the Habanero orange and beige top. This Beetle will make you smile every morning you walk out to your driveway.
And even more surprising was when I started it and put my foot on the gas - it moved.
The 2.0-litre turbocharged engine gives this Beetle a boatload of power. It really moves off the line.
This engine replaces the 1.8 litre turbocharged engine in last year’s model, providing the same amount of power while using less gas.
Volkswagen offers the Beetle in three trims: Trendline; Coast; and Dune.
My tester for the week was the Coast with an added Style package. Basically all Beetles are essentially the same car with a few tweaks. The top of the line Dune is raised slightly higher to give it more clearance.
But let’s talk about the interior of the Beetle first.
It is very stylish, which is what you would expect from VW.
The 6.3-inch touchscreen is easy to use and VW continues to offer the proximity sense which brings up other options as you put your finger near the screen. A CD player is also included.
I am now the owner of a satellite radio in my own car and the Beetle offers a great option where, after hearing a favourite band, you can push a button to store that artist in the memory.
When any channel on satellite radio plays that artist, you get a pop-up on the screen asking if you want to tune to that station.
The temperature controls on the Beetle are easy to access, with three large rotary knobs. As I mentioned earlier, the temperature during my test week was at times unbearable which meant a lot of time with the air conditioning on.
I can’t recall another car that cooled down as fast as this Beetle. The air conditioning was one of the best I have used.
The VW Beetle is a two-door vehicle and getting in and out of the back seat isn’t an easy task. And once you are in that back seat, don’t plan on trying to stretch your legs, as there’s not a lot of room.
But your mindset changes when the top is down.
You feel a freedom and the lack of legroom don’t seem as important as the view you now have.
The top on the VW Beetle goes up and down quickly with the flick of a button. With the top up, you hear a lot of noise, especially from trucks near you on the highway. But that is expected.
During one of the nights I had the Beetle, I was invited to the opening of the new Cineplex Theatres at the Pickering Town Centre.
Just as I arrived, the skies opened and a torrential rain lasted for about 20 minutes. I sat in the car waiting for it to pass and was expecting some water to leak in because of how hard the rain was falling but it didn’t.
You can’t write about how the Beetle drives without using the word fun.
The turbocharged engine gives it a great boost but with the top down this car is a lot of fun to drive. It sits higher and is wider than many other convertibles so you aren’t sitting on the road looking up at other vehicles.
Wind resistance with the top down isn’t bad but is better if you put up the windows.
As mentioned my Coast version of the Beetle came with a $1,970 Style package which includes dual zone climate control; premium auto system with eight speakers, fog lights; and upgraded headlights.
The audio system is one of the best I have heard and at night, a blue light surrounds the speakers embedded in the doors giving a very nice effect.
Other standard features on the Beetle include: 17-inch alloy wheels; rain sensing wipers; leather steering wheel and USB audio inputs. And even though the Beetle has a turbo your wallet is helped with the need to just put in regular unleaded gas.
On the safety side the Beetle has blind spot detection and rear camera.
You won’t be able to fit much in the trunk. A trip to the golf course for my son and I saw us put our clubs in the back seat and keep the top down.
Volkswagen has said the Beetle will be fazed out soon because of dwindling sales.
That’s a shame as the car is a fun drive and offers plenty of power.
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2018 Volkswagen Beetle
Front-wheel-drive, six-speed transmission.
two-litre, four-cylinder turbo (174 hp, 184 lb/ft torque)
(Premium recommended) 9.0/7.2L/100 km city/highway
201 litres in the trunk
$30,865, includes Style Package.