Friday 22nd September 2017
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Words: Simon Taylor
Featured in the December 2013 issue

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You might say that cabriolets are all very well in the late spring and summer, but who wants the hood down in winter? Quite a few people.

It is not only on reasonably mild winter days, when the sun comes out and ups the temperature, that open-top motoring can be most enjoyable, but also on days when the gauge on the dash shows it’s just above zero. Modern designs deflect the cold air, and with the sort of heater VW provides blowing hot air, you can certainly enjoy some real fresh air. Obviously you need a coat and some form of head covering, but I have enjoyed hundreds of hours of this type of motoring when it really is very chilly.

The current Beetle news is that Volkswagen have reworked the car extensively, as I discovered on a recent test drive in what the manufacturer dubbed a 60s Edition.

With the powered, easy-fold soft top open, it is easy to examine the entire interior and to appreciate that build quality is as high as I have come to accept with Volkswagen products. This especially applies to the presentation, particularly of the fascia and instrument pack which combine easy-read qualities with a touch of retro curves. Gone is the original little flower vase that adorned the dashboard of the first front-wheel-drive Beetles. However there is a purpose and practicality that add up to a feel good factor for anyone sitting behind the leather covered steering wheel.

My driving experience is based on the 1.4-litre TSI petrol unit that delivers a whacking 158 bhp, and drives through a very easy changing, sensibly ratioed six-speed manual gearbox. It is what I consider to be the ideal model for those who spend most of their time driving around town on short journeys, where a diesel power unit would barely have time to warm up.

Efficient aerodynamics actually reduce the wind in the hair experience as well as minimising noise levels and providing strong, straight line stability. But there is still nothing like a good open road and fair weather to complement a very special car. I could always find time to clear out the cobwebs in one of these!

Price: from £26,115 on the road.

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