Legend has it that when spring rolls around, many a young man’s fancy turns to love. Of convertibles. There’s nothing quite like motoring about on a beautiful day in the countryside with the top down. Of course, this strange affliction hits a wide range of women as well. Unfortunately, this spring looks like it might test our patience with skyrocketing fuel prices once again, and the higher the price of gasoline rises, the less we’re apt to go out for a ride, just for the sheer joy of it. What we really need, what we really, really need — thank you, Posh — is a highly fuel efficient convertible.
Thankfully, Volkswagen has listened to our prayers and has brought a remarkably fun, unique, and economical droptop to our shores. A convertible unlike any seen before in America. A convertible that doesn’t use any gasoline at all.
Before you get excited about the possibility of an electric convertible, you’ll have to cool your Jetsons jets. This little critter doesn’t use gasoline, because it uses diesel fuel.
“What’s that,” you say, “a diesel convertible? Surely you jest!”
Say hello to my little friend, the fabulously fuel-efficient 2013 Volkswagen Beetle TDI convertible.
The 2013 VW Beetle TDI’s 2.0-liter turbo-charged inline four-cylinder “clean diesel” engine pumps out lots of torque and uses just a wee bit of fuel. That’s 236 foot pounds and 28 city / 41 highway miles per gallon (MPG) if you’re into numbers. (While the 140 horsepower rating may seem modest, it’s torque that really matters.)
Although the Beetle TDI is not blindingly fast, it will push you back in your seat. With your choice of a six-speed manual or dual-clutch DSG automatic, this little critter bangs out the shifts at a rapid pace.
Oh sure, the little Bug’s MPG ratings might not appear to be high at first glance, but VW TDI drivers are legendary for their ability to exceed the “official” government estimates through their use of proper driving techniques. The TDI loves to drive past service stations by virtue of its generous driving range, which is further enabled by a 14.5 gallon fuel tank.
So now you’re asking, “what’s clean about diesel?”
Today’s modern diesel engines aren’t sooty. They don’t smell. And as VW puts it, “Clean diesel vehicles meet some of the strictest standards in the world.” Walk past an idling TDI and you wouldn’t know it’s a diesel, other than the distinctive engine clatter. Truth be told, TDIs do sound different from their gasoline-powered brothers, but they’re not obnoxiously loud, by any means.
Volkswagen offers the Beetle TDI convertible in three retro trims — ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s — to suit your whims, along with a the standard style. A Fender-branded sound system with all of today’s modern amenities (hands-free Bluetooth, USB input, SiriusXM satellite, and a sub-woofer) is available, along with goodies like three-level heated bucket seats. (Which are fantastic for those days when you should have your head examined for driving around with the top down.)
The Beetle is surely not for everyone, but other convertibles can’t touch it for fuel efficiency. The MINI Cooper and Fiat 500 Cabrio are among the closest.
Perhaps one day we’ll see a fully electric Fiat 500e Cabrio, but until then, the Beetle TDI is the most economical of the lot. For those who would prefer a hybrid convertible, you’re out of luck. There isn’t one available. You’ll just have to take a Sawzall to the roof of your Aunt Edna’s Prius. Never mind the loss of aerodynamics or her ire.
If you want to celebrate the season in style, a ragtop can’t be beat. Pay no attention to what the thermometer says. Ignore today’s wind chill factor. Punxsutawney Phil has spoken (well, sorta). We’re two weeks into a six-week sentence, and spring is just around the corner.
Source: MPG-o-Matic’s 2013 Volkswagen Beetle TDI Review
Image: 2013 Beetle Convertible by Volkswagen