Volkswagen redesigned the Beetle for 2012, attempting to broaden the Bug's appeal by toughening up its cute look. (Translation: Appeal to the male buyer.) For 2013, VW has rolled out three limited editions: '50s, '60s and '70s. We drove the '60s trim. While it didn't conjure memories of Flower Power, it did impress us with its performance.
Appearance: The redesign left the distinctive Beetle style, but flattened out some of its roundness with a flatter roof line and wider stance. The front still has the signature round headlights and wide fenders. Lyra loved our '60s edition's Denim Blue color, but it seems more baby blue than any pair of jeans we've ever worn. Peter: "I'm not sure what's '60s about this color. Haven't VW designers ever seen Woodstock?" The one bright color on our tester was the red brake calipers that peek out from the 18-inch, five-spoke alloy wheels. There's also a rear spoiler that announces this Beetle means business. When the cloth top is up, the silhouette is almost identical to its hardtop counterpart. With the top down, the Beetle retains its sleek look. The top goes down in less than 10 seconds — even when you're moving at speeds of up to 31 mph. The cloth top folds compactly and doesn't hinder visibility. VW provides a cover that gives the folded-down top a neater look, but it doesn't strike us as being worth the trouble — and it is trouble, says Lyra. Just leave the cover at home to reclaim some trunk space (7.1 cubic feet).
Performance: The 2.0-liter, 200-horsepower turbocharged 4-cylinder is the same engine as in VW's GTI hot hatch, which makes this one lightning-quick Bug. We both were impressed with the off-the-line acceleration; just hang on to the flat-bottomed steering wheel because there is some torque steer under hard acceleration. The '60s edition only comes with VW's 6-speed dual-clutch gearbox, which clicks off shifts quickly and precisely. The handling is tight, especially for a convertible. Overall, it's one of the more fun small cars we've driven. The price you pay for performance: mpg of 21/29.
Interior: The cabin is attractive and looks upscale, with two-tone ribbed leather seats that are comfortable and well bolstered. The denim blue color continues in both the seats and dash panels. The seat adjustments are manual, which seem out of place in an optioned-out special edition. Up front, there's plenty of head- and legroom, but the rear seats are a tight fit and better suited for children. The instrument cluster has easy-to-read gauges with white-on-black numerals, and a small info screen. Three other gauges sit on top of the dash and give the cockpit a sporty look. The AC controls are simple dials and buttons. The LCD touchscreen, however, is not. Its push-button interface and rotary presets can be confusing. The Fender audio system sounded clear even with the top down.
Our 3 favorites
Performance: I love the acceleration.
Interior: Handsome and comfortable.
Fun factor: A nice combination of style, performance and look-at-me attitude.
Denim blue: Love the powder blue. It would look even better with a gray top.
Handling: Tossable and fun.
Sleek roof lines: Convertible top is as good-looking as the hardtop.
The bottom line: The VW Beetle is no longer just the economy car it used to be. Today, this '60s edition costs around $33K. But its more athletic looks and performance make it one of the more fun small convertibles on the market.