What is it? Expanding the third-generation Volkswagen Beetle range is new convertible, due to reach the market by year’s end.
The new convertible shares the flattened roof profile of recently redesigned Beetle “sedan,” along with its three engine choices: a 170-hp, 2.5-liter, five-cylinder paired solely with a speed automatic transmission; a 200-hp turbocharged four with an option of a six-speed manual or a six-speed automated manual transmission; or a turbocharged, 2.0-liter diesel, available with the same the choice of automatic or manual six-speed transmissions.
What is new or notable? Sun lovers rejoice. For the first time, American enthusiasts who want to both enjoy and preserve the environment can opt for VW’s popular and efficient TDI diesel in a convertible. VW says the TDI will be EPA-rated at 41 mpg on the highway. (Just don’t expect to get that with the top down.)
CR’s take: The Beetle’s new shape is much more practical than its cartoonish New Beetle predecessor. We found the latest Beetle hardtop to be pleasant, but unsatisfying. A convertible top and efficient diesel should go a long way toward adding appeal for some buyers. The old-school rag-top, rather than a modern folding hardtop, feeds into the nostalgia that the Beetle evokes.
When will it be available? December 2012.