Volkswagen Beetle Cabriolet (2012-2019)

By Jonathan Crouch

Models Covered

2dr Convertible


Let's face it, you don't buy a used Volkswagen Beetle if practicality is at the top of your agenda, so why not go the whole hog and opt for a soft top? The third generation Beetle Cabriolet is strong on style and looks a really great ownership proposition. It's everything its predecessor needed to be.

The History

Oscar Wilde tells us that the only way to get rid of temptation is to yield to it. And if you’re amongst those who’ve always promised themselves a modern, affordable yet nostalgically styled convertible, then what you might well be thinking of yielding to is something like this, the third generation Beetle Cabriolet.

This of course is the soft top version of one of the most iconic cars ever built, first introduced back in 1949 and still in production over half a century later, by which time over 330,000 open-topped Beetles had been sold. In 2002, the same Mexican factory that had made the final classic models began producing a ‘New Beetle’ Cabriolet and nearly a quarter of a million of these were made before the production run ended in 2010 to make way for the car we have here.

Bigger, better equipped, with superior engineware and much-improved quality, this newer cabriolet arrived in the Spring of 2013 and proved to be a definite step upmarket, even though it still remained the most affordable route into Volkswagen soft-top ownership. It was also rather unique in the affordable drop-top segment, offering the kind of character buyers simply couldn’t get in soft-top versions of ordinary family hatchbacks, the kind of rear seat space they’d never find in a convertible MINI and the sort of proper ‘wind-in-the-hair’ experience that couldn’t be fully replicated by open-topped cars of the period like the Fiat 500C and the Citroen DS3 Cabrio that weren’t really fully-fledged convertibles. This model got a mid-term facelift in 2015, at which point a trendy ‘Dune’ version was added to the range. Production ended in 2019.

What You Get

A ‘new original’. Is that what this is? With this post-2013 Beetle Cabriolet, there’s something of the past, artfully mixed with a sporty vision of the future in a car that’s longer, lower and wider than its predecessor, with a longer wheelbase. Diehard cabrio drivers who insist on continuing on top-down in the rain will find that the furled hood catches part of the water, then drops it on your passengers’ heads when you put the roof up, a process that occupies 11s. One of the advantages of the way the roof sits proud of the passenger compartment just above the integral rear spoiler is that it doesn’t take up boot space, which is pretty reasonable for this class of car at 225-litres, 24-litres more than the previous model. That’s assuming you’re not using the back seats of course. Unlike many of its rivals in the small convertible sector, this car has a big enough cabin to comfortably take four adults.

And up front? Well, as promised, the interior does indeed feel more akin to that of the original post-war Beetle, in the unlikely event that you remember one of those, with the slab-sided dash the same colour as the paintwork in most models, even if it’s no longer fashioned from crudely painted steel. You sit much further forward than you did in the previous generation version of this car, closer to the swept-back front windscreen, viewing a big central speedo flanked with rev counter and ancillary gauges through a sporty three-spoke thin-rimmed wheel. You'll look in vain for the MK2 Beetle’s dash-mounted flower vase though. Good.

What To Look For

Most owners of this 2013-2019-era ‘A5’-series MK3 Beetle Cabriolet model we surveyed were very happy with their cars, but inevitably, there have been those who have had problems you'll want to look out for. One owner had two rear arm bushes, a front coil and whole new ignition barrel and steering lock go in a year, plus a brake fault and an electrical fault. That was the exception though. Generally, this particularly Beetle seems pretty stoutly built. There were three product recalls for this design in its production life. The first was in 2011 for starter motors on diesel models which may overheat. The second related to a potential loss of steering stability due to a deformed rear axle on models produced between 2011 and 2013. Lastly, there is a possible fire risk on models made between April and August 2014 because of a fuel leak. With variants affected, check that the necessary dealer visits have been made. We haven’t come across any complaints about the powered hood but make sure that its functionality is up to scratch. Make sure that the tonneau cover hasn’t been mislaid.

On The Road

Despite a 20% improvement in body stiffness, there’s none of the go kart eagerness of a MINI Convertible - but then in this Volkswagen, you also do without the MINI’s awful ride, wobbly body and cramped cabin. That’s a trade we think most will be quite happy to make. Especially given that this post-2013 Beetle design is so much more dynamically adept – and so impressively refined roof-up. The steering’s still a bit vaguer than we would like, but at least in this form, the car feels more willing to change direction when you ask it to, especially in the pokier petrol guises that get the XDS electronic differential lock system that was developed for the Golf GTI. On to the roof, a beautifully tailored multi-layered piece of heavy duty fabric that at the press of a button rises up in 11 seconds, folds away in 9.5s and is operable at speeds of up to 31mph.

As for engines, there’s an eager 1.2-litre TSI petrol and a 1.6-litre TDI diesel - both develop 105PS. Or you could go for a 140PS 2.0TDI diesel. Don’t ignore the 160PS 1.4-litre TSI petrol unit and there’s a 200PS 2.0-litre TSI petrol engine at the top of the range. Urban folk who don’t want the slick 6-speed manual gearbox also get DSG auto transmission options at the top and bottom of the line-up, with an older 6-speeder available on the 2.0 TDI and a more efficient 7-speeder available on the base 1.2 TSI.


Like the idea of a used Beetle Cabriolet? Then you’ll like this one very much indeed. A car like this is – and should be – an indulgence, a bit of fun. Exactly like soft-top Beetles always have been. And, after years of being viewed as a novelty car whose appeal had long worn off, this Volkswagen was, in this post-2013 form, rejuvenated as a hot ticket in this segment. It’s also stoutly built, generally reliable and charismatic. We can see why a certain kind of buyer might really want one.