Complaints: The New Beetle's convertible roof, when lowered, rests atop an imaginary C-pillar, normally the pillar framing the rear window in a sedan. Because of the New Beetle's conspicuously rounded body, the lowered roof sort of juts out over the rear end, much as it did on long-ago models. I didn't like that roof-rest stance then, and I don't like it now, in part because it seems opposed to efficient aerodynamic design.
Praise: On safety. VW is to be applauded for making automatically deployable roll bars standard on all of its convertibles. Sensors activate the roll-bar system when they detect that the car has gone into critical tilt. But the roll bars won't help you if you aren't properly buckled in.
Head-turning quotient: High. Favorable.
Ride, acceleration and handling: Suffice it to say that the New Beetle convertible will please normal drivers in all three categories. Would-be race-car drivers need not apply.
Engines/transmissions: Both the standard 2-liter, 115-horsepower four-cylinder engine and the turbocharged, 150-horsepower 1.8T can be linked to a five-speed manual or an optional six-speed automatic transmission. The automatic transmission also can be operated as a clutchless manual.
Capacities: The New Beetle convertible seats four people. The trunk is tiny, five cubic feet. The fuel tank holds 14.5 gallons of gasoline. Regular unleaded is fine for the standard engine; the turbocharged 1.8T gets premium.
Mileage: I averaged nearly 30 miles per gallon in highway driving in the tested GLS convertible with manual transmission.
Price: The New Beetle convertible (the 2-liter, normally aspirated version) is on sale this fall. Prices are not firm at this writing. In reality, expect to pay $21,000 to $26,000 depending on model and options chosen.
Purse-strings note: It's a buy. Looks like a winner.