By Liz Turner
As the sun seems to be still with us, I wasn’t going to turn down an invitation to drive some VW Beetle Cabriolets. I was particularly keen to learn more about the trio of retro specials, called 50s, 60s and 70s Editions.
The Beetle is the ultimate retro car. The reinvention of the classic VeeDub appeared in 2002, and we can thank its success for the new Mini and Fiat 500. The restyled Beetle that appeared at the end of last year deliberately follows lines of the original even more closely, taking it back to basics, so a retro-retro special would surely be something to see.
In the metal, none of these three were what I expected. Maybe the trouble was that I was thinking of the American ‘50s. So I expected bright pastel colours, maybe even two-tone. In fact the ‘50s is given the cool treatment, it’s black with a leather interior and chrome door handles – like a black leather jacket with a metal zip and studs. I like the full chrome hubcaps a lot, along with the painted metal on the latest Beetle’s dashboard. Very vintage.
The 1960s were psychedelic times, a shade of lilac would have been nice. Instead the 60s Edition is Candy white, or a shade VW calls Denim blue. I’d say it was more baby blue and it’s a great colour for a Beetle, although I’m not sold on its huge shiny wheels, they look very modern boy-racer to me.
For 1970s, I’d expected yellow and orange, but we get metallic copper called Java Brown – it’s interesting that metallic bronze and copper shades are ‘the’ car colours for 2014.
There’s a reason why we won’t get more feminine colours. VW wants to keep selling Beetles to men, too. So last year’s redesign made the car more angular and masculine, and the flower vase was banished. It’s still cute, though, it always will be.
At 1,473mm tall, 4,278mm long and 1,808wide (excluding mirrors), the latest Beetle Cabriolet is 29mm lower, 152mm longer and 84mm wider than the last one. That means it’s practical, with better load room, but it’s really not a small car. You’ll need a VW Up! If parking is tight where you live.
The three special editions have there own features on top of the already well-equipped Design trim level. So they all get DAB digital radio and dash-mounted MP3 compatible six-CD autochanger with eight speakers, SD card reader and AUX-in socket for connection to an external media source. And they all had start-stop technology to save fuel.
The 50s gets alloy wheels and black and red or beige ‘Vienna’ leather upholstery, 60s gets semi-automatic climate control and a very fancy Fender premium soundpack, developed with the legendary electric guitar firm. It offers a 400W output and a subwoofer, along with switchable three-colour illumination surrounding the front loudspeaker. Wow, you can turn it up to 11.
The 70s model has 18-inch ‘Discus’ alloy wheels, beige Vienna leather upholstery and a beige hood to match, along with chrome door mirrors and Java Brown metallic paint.
All three editions come with a 1.4-litre TSI 160 PS petrol engine and a 2.0-litre TDi 140 PS diesel, and both pull well, but the petrol is more fun, feeling lighter on its feet and you’d have to be driving a lot of miles for the diesel to save you significant cash. The Beetle is a car you buy for its style, it isn’t the most engaging car to drive – the Mini is much more entertaining on twisty road – but it’s comfortable and easy for the kind of driving most of us do every day. It makes you feel good when you catch a reflection of yourself driving past a shop window, and that’s reason enough to want one.
The numbers that count:
50s Edition 1.4 TSI petrol £24,895
50s Edition 2.0 TDI diesel £25,625
60s Edition 1.4 TSI petrol £26,115
60s Edition 2.0 TDI diesel £26,845
70s Edition 1.4 TSI petrol £25,690
70s Edition 2.0 TDi diesel £26,420
1.4-litre TSI 160 PS
Max speed 129mph
0-60mph 8.6 seconds
2.0-litre TDI 140 PS
Max speed 123mph
0-60mph 8.6 seconds