Used Volkswagen Beetle Cabriolet (2003 - 2010) Driving & Performance

Review by David Ross on
Last Updated: 24 Sep 2009
Four years after the 'new' Beetle was launched, Volkswagen introduced the convertible version - an obvious step for a car that appeals to those after something fun and stylish. Adding open-air enjoyment to the Beetle certainly makes it more enjoyable, but it's let down in key areas.
3.5 out of 5


There's a reasonable choice of engines in the Beetle Cabriolet range starting with the 1.4-litre with 75bhp, but this feels sluggish and is slow to pick-up speed with 0-62mpg taking a very leisurely 15.6 seconds. The 1.6-litre with 102bhp is a better bet and feels noticeably quicker on open roads while still returning a useful 37mpg. There is also a 2.0-litre petrol which is smooth but not that much more powerful than the 1.6-litre with 115bhp.

However, it is the only model that comes with an automatic gearbox in the form of a six-speed tiptronic. The top model is the 1.8T with 150bhp - the same engine that was used in the 1997 Golf GTI - but even this isn't especially quick with 0-62mph taking 9.3 seconds. Just one diesel is available - the reliable 1.9 TDI which is found across the Volkswagen range.

It musters 105bhp and although noisy and coarse, has reasonable in-gear punch, but never feels that quick. The best aspect is average fuel economy of 51mpg.

3 out of 5


The Beetle Cabriolet is easy to drive rather than exciting, with forgiving suspension keeping things comfortable on most road surfaces. Underneath, it's based on the 1997 Golf but it lacks the agility of similar convertibles and isn't that enjoyable to drive on a twisting road. Roof-up the Cabriolet is almost as quiet as the hard-top Beetle and only the occasional tremor is felt with the roof down.

An electronic stability control system helps the driver to keep in control in slippery conditions.