VW Beetle Cabrio 2.0 TDI

Does turbodiesel power add to the appeal of the all-new Volkswagen Beetle Cabriolet? We find out...

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Diesel versions of the Beetle Cabriolet don’t demand many compromises over petrol cars. The problem isn’t the engine, but the car itself. The cabin has a lower-quality feel than a Golf Cabriolet’s, while the ride is worse and the handling is less responsive. Those are big issues, although the styling and near-£2,000 saving help to take the edge off.

So far, we’ve only driven petrol versions of the new Volkswagen Beetle Cabriolet, but buyers also have the choice of two diesels: a 1.6-litre TDI with 104bhp or the 138bhp 2.0-litre TDI driven here.

This engine is familiar from other Volkswagen models, and here it allows for fuel economy of 57.6mpg with CO2 emissions of 129g/km. That’s a lot better than the 41.5mpg 1.4 TSI petrol model, although that has 20bhp more and costs £730 less.

But you’ll have to be willing to sacrifice some of the petrol’s excellent refinement by opting for the diesel. While it’s by no means gruff or noisy, it’s just not as quiet as the 1.4 TSI. Power delivery is smooth, however, and acceleration from 0-62mph takes 8.6 seconds, which is identical to the 1.4 TSI.

The Beetle Cabriolet does have a few notable flaws, though, and they’re nothing to do with the engine. For example, the ride is a bit crashy at low speeds, despite the fact it flows nicely over bumps at higher speeds.

The Beetle is based on the Golf Mk6, but the handling is nowhere near as sharp. Where the Golf seems to turn in immediately, this car feels almost wallowy.

Still, the roof mechanism is good, folding down on top of the rear deck in 9.5 seconds and at speeds of up to 31mph. With the hood up, refinement is impressive enough to fool you into thinking you’re driving a hard-top.

Unfortunately, with the roof down and bunched up at the back, there is a bit of a blind spot over your shoulder. The folding mechanism limits boot space, too, with the load area down from 310 litres in the hatch to 225 litres.

In almost every way, the Golf Cabriolet is a better buy than the soft-top Beetle, but there’s still a place for it in VW’s range.

The 2.0 TDI Design model costs £23,165, which is £1,805 cheaper than a similarly equipped SE Golf Cabriolet with the same engine. It’s also far more quirky and stylish than the Golf, and that’s something that counts for a lot when it comes to convertibles.

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