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Volkswagen Beetle Cabriolet 70s Edition 2.0 TDI

Click to view picture gallery“Welcome to the new VW Beetle
for men. Yes, really!
  The last chopped-top Beetle was
  the very definition of the ‘girly
  from its cutesy curves to its dash-
  mounted flower vase

BUT THE NEW BEETLE CABRIOLET is designed to be mucho macho, so it can be targeted more at men. Consequently it's longer, lower, and wider and has a rear spoiler as standard Phwaor, it's very nearly an Impreza!

But can the Beetle Cabriolet really ever be a bloke's car? Well, quite a few chaps on my test drive could be seen checking it out. One even asked if it was a Porsche. While he must surely have been squinting hard into the sun, the overall 'sporty' message of the new roofless Beetle is definitely clear.

Hang on, though. VW then launches the Cabriolet with three special editions that evoke particular decades — and suddenly we're back to metrosexualism. There's the 50s Edition with its chrome trim and black paint, for example, while the 60s Edition has groovy spoked alloys and Denim Blue or white paint.

“But can the Beetle
Cabriolet really ever be
a bloke’s car?
Well, quite a few chaps
on my test drive could be
seen checking it out —
one even asked if it was
a Porsche.
I'm a child of the 1970s (too much information — Ed) so I headed straight for the 70s Edition. Its proud '70s' badges on the front wings look less like they're telling the world your age group than the '50s' or '60s' badges.

The main points that make the 70s Edition so fab 'n' groovy for me are the Java Brown paintwork (at the risk of sounding a touch Tatler, brown really is the new white — watch this space), beige hood, beige leather trim and fetchingly funky alloys.

The roof is multi-layered so it's very refined inside when the Cabriolet's rolling — and the glass rear screen adds to the sense of quality. The roof folds at the touch of a button in 9.5 seconds (which is very fast by convertible standards) and you can do it at any speed up to 31mph. Like Beetles of old, a tonneau covers the roof when it's stacked behind the seats. You can also order an optional wind deflector to minimise buffeting, which stows neatly in a drop-down tray in the boot.

Speaking of the boot, don't buy this car if you need to transport your 70s tribute act band members and their gear; the rear seats are just about big enough for two adults with short legs who are on friendly terms.

The boot is rendered almost useless (even though it can actually swallow a decent amount of luggage; and even more with the rear seats folded) by the ridiculously narrow opening. Only the squashiest of bags can be squeezed in.

I remember when Audi launched the world's first diesel sports car convertible (the TT Roadster) and the sound of eyebrows rustling as they raised themselves was positively deafening: diesel fumes being wafted into the open cabin? Surely not.

“The 2.0 TDI Cabriolet
costs 730 more than the
1.4 TSI petrol, but its
55.4mpg (versus the
s 41.5mpg)
and substantially better
low-rev pulling power
makes a strong case
for taking the
oil-burning TDI.
Things have moved on dramatically since then. Today almost every car-maker has a diesel-powered model in its convertible range. So, why should you consider diesel?

Well, the formula is pretty simple. Diesel engines cost more than petrol ones to buy (in the Beetle's case, the 2.0 TDI costs 730 more than the 1.4 TSI petrol) but they're undeniably more economical: 55.4mpg versus 41.5mpg. Okay, so you'll need to keep the car for a few years and/or drive a significant number of miles to make back the difference.

Sure, the 1.4 TSI petrol engine is a very fine unit, but there's still a strong argument for diesel.

First is the ease of driving. You never need to rev the engine hard and, despite the fact that the 2.0 TDI has less power (138bhp against 157bhp), its low-rev pulling power (torque) is actually substantially better (236lb ft versus 177lb ft). That equates to a much easier driving experience and less need to change gear often.

The handling is tidy — the Beetle is based on the Golf Mk6 so it doesn't have the latest (and thoroughly excellent) VW Group MQB platform, but the basics are all there. Yes, there is some scuttle shake (where the structure wobbles when it encounters imperfections in the road surface) but it isn't as noticeable as some other convertibles. The ride isn't bad either, thanks to sophisticated multi-link rear suspension.

I can't help thinking that soft-top blokes will probably still go for the Golf Cabriolet rather than the Beetle, but there's definitely more reason for them to go Beetle now. Especially if you're a child of the '70s. — Chris Rees

Volkswagen Beetle Cabriolet 70s Edition 2.0 TDI | 26,420
Top speed: 122mph | 0-62mph: 9.9 seconds | Average MPG: 55.4mpg
Power: 138bhp | Torque: 236lb ft | CO2 134g/km