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Volkswagen Beetle cabriolet (2003-2010)

“Drop the top, turn up the stereo and put on your sunglasses – Beetle Cabriolet provides classic cruising at its best.”

Carbuyer Rating

1.5 out of 5

Owners Rating
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Pros

  • Retro styling
  • Solid VW build quality
  • Top-down thrills

Cons

  • Tiny boot
  • Cramped rear seats
  • Roof compromises rear visibility

Style, substance, character and a fun drive, too: the Volkswagen Beetle Cabriolet is more than a pretty face. It’s been around for a while now – and its Golf chassis was long-in-the-tooth even when the model was introduced in the late Nineties – but its characterful style has an undeniable attraction, and it’s still fun behind the wheel. VW stiffened the car's body to make up for the fact the Beetle Cabriolet lost the rigidity of the metal roof, but this still inevitably affects the handling – whether that’s an issue depends on how much you rate driving dynamics over looking cool. The roof is electrically operated on all but the base model, while the capable five-strong engine range, along with the kind of solid build quality you’d expect from a Volkswagen, make this a sound buy.

MPG, running costs & CO2

Engines offer decent mix of performance and economy

The Beetle Cabriolet’s good spread of engines lets you decide on your running cost price points – that balance of performance and efficiency can be honed depending on your requirements. Such a desirable model – a convertible from one of the world’s most respected marques – will always hold its value, so residuals are strong, too.

Engines, drive & performance

It's perfectly suited to comfortable cruising

Don’t expect the sportiest drive on the market, because the Beetle Cabriolet’s ageing chassis, plus lack of roof rigidity, mean you simply won’t get it. But a good spread of engines, from 1.4, 1.6, 1.8T and 2.0-litre petrol units through to a 1.9 diesel, gives a good choice of performance and efficiency. The soft-tuned chassis means the Beetle is a car for cruising, not attacking fast bends. That curved bodywork makes it hard to position the Beetle on the road, while the roof limits visibility, whether it's up or down.

Interior & comfort

Wind noise is low with the roof up

Funky cabin is shared with hatch version of Beetle, and boasts some retro touches, including a dash-mounted flower vase! Overall ergonomics could be better, but a height and reach-adjustable steering wheel across the range is a bonus. Rear passengers will feel cramped, though. Wind noise is surprisingly hushed for a soft-top, while an optional wind deflector limits buffeting with the roof down. This clips in over the rear seats, turning the Beetle into a strict two-seater in the process.

Practicality & boot space

Boot is tiny, but opening roof doesn't affect things

It’s a convertible, so practicality isn't a strong point, but the cabin is roomier than you might expect. When folded, the roof sits on top of the car’s boot rather than dropping down into the bodywork, so back seat and luggage space, while not great, aren't compromised too badly. However, the boot is tiny, at 201 litres, while the boot opening is equally small. Top-up, the rear passengers will suffer the same cramped headroom as in the hatchback.

Reliability & safety

Solidly built and mechanically tough

Volkswagen’s cars are usually reliable, and the Beetle Cabriolet upholds the tradition with solid build and mechanical components. Inevitably with a model that has been around for so long, there have been a few small glitches during its lifespan – a sticking fuel filler cap and the odd electrical issue among them.

Price, value for money & options

Beetle is one of the cheaper open top models

Four-seater convertibles don’t generally come cheap, but in comparison to some more expensive models, the Beetle Cabriolet is a positive bargain. Equipment is acceptable, if not especially generous, although safety equipment is good and incorporates an automatic anti-rollover device.

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Richard is a former editor of Carbuyer, as well as sister site DrivingElectric.com, and he's now Deputy Editor at Auto Express. Having spent a decade working in the automotive industry, he understands exactly what makes new car buyers tick.

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