I LOVE the styling on the Cabriolet 50s 1.4 TSI, its DNA contains the fun and romance of what originally made the Beetle such an icon of popular culture. It holds a special place in the heart of millions (including me); Herbie Goes Bananas, Bug Rallies; all curves and character, cute and friendly. I even liked the ‘New Beetle’ that popped up in 1997, even if it did look like a military vehicle from a bad sci-fi movie.
Ok, so I know it’s not the ideal time of the year to buy a convertible, even in the middle of Summer the British weather doesn’t always afford many opportunities to feel the wind flowing in your hair. When it does though, a Cabriolet really comes into its own and the 50s is up there with the best around.
Press the button and the mechanical roof folds away quickly and smoothly in just 9.5 seconds, it will also come up again on the move at up to speeds of 31mph, which is useful if you are stop / starting around the city and it starts to rain. Even road- testing the car in late Autumn I was able to go ‘topless’ quite a few times and its decent heaters keep travellers in the front nice and warm even if it is a bit nippy ‘outside’.
You don’t have to be Sherlock Holmes to realise the 50s has something of a 1950’s feel to it. No doubt inspired by the success of the Fiat 500’s old-fashioned stylings, VW have added some subtle classic touches but resisted the temptation to go too overboard. Visually the car is lower, and wider than previously, the rear lights are bigger and squarer and its curves have an almost Porsche-ness sexiness to them. It looks fantastic in black and you’ll get plenty of admiring glances from petrol and non-petrolheads alike everywhere you go.
Inside there is a retro styled dashboard with stopwatch and lap timer (very useful when looking for a parking space at the supermarket), while on the outside, cool 17-inch Orbit Black alloys and sexy chrome mirrors. In contrast there is also a modern, new fangled touch-screen sat-nav / DAB stereo /media player thingy, plus a Fender, eight speaker 400 watt output system with sub- woofer in the boot (£525 extra) which is seriously loud. The ‘Salsa Red with Black Vienna leather upholstery’ seats are great for long journeys and there is plenty of room upfront to spread out. In contrast, the rear seats are a teeny bit cramped especially if you’ve got long legs. Boot space is pretty good though and enough for a family of four for the weekend.
Without extras this car still comes incredibly well equipped; front and rear parking sensors, air-conditioning, ABS (Anti- lock Braking System), ASR (traction control) and heated front seats (to name a few) come as standard. Add to this a 3-year / 60,000 miles warranty, plus top crash safety ratings and the £24,895.00 (otr) starts to look like really good value for your hard-earned money.
On the road the Cabriolet 50s offers a good balance between city and motorway life. It will bop around in town or stick happily to the fast lane with minimal driver fatigue. Although more of a cruiser than a racer, if you want to put your foot down it will shift – not jaw-droppingly so, but fast enough to get you into (and out of) trouble. The 1.4 litre engine will give you 41.5MPG (combined), CO2 emissions of 158(g/km) and a top speed of 128mph. The brakes are firm and if you are sensible it handles admirably in most conditions and situations.
Although it may be a slight pastiche in terms of what a 50’s car is (or was), VW should be applauded for making the Cabriolet 50s such fun. It definitely has character, and that’s something every motoring journalist in the land will tell you we need more of these days. I just wish they had gone for it a bit more and retro- fied it to the max. Even so, in a sea of Grey, the Cabriolet 50s still stands out a mile.
Beetle Cabriolet 50s Edition 1.4-litre 160 PS 6spd manual
Engine capacity (litres /cc)
1.4 / 1390 (4 cylinders, 16 valves) Power output (PS @ rpm)
160 @ 5800
Top speed (mph) 128
0-62 mph (seconds) 8.6
Fuel economy (mpg) Urban 32.1; Extra-urban 50.4;
CO2 emissions (g/km) 158 (Euro5) Insurance group 22
On the road price – £24,895.00 For more info visit www.volkswagen.co.uk