Big wheels, fancy lights, and sporty body flair says a lot about your car – attach those same attributes to a Beetle and you’ll be like “wait, is that a…?” Yup it is! Over the years, the Beetle, to say least, hasn’t been one to catch the male species eye. However, what Volkswagen has done here is attach a very interesting badge to the side of our drop-top bug that even has us possibly putting a return sticker on our man card.
Inside, this Beetle looks very much like every other Beetle in the line-up – retro styling – sleek design – and a new USB outlet (welcome to the modern world.) The touch screen infotainment system is also new for 2016 being more intuitive than before, but most importantly, it features Apply CarPlay and Android Auto for those that use their phone more than their car. There is something different however, and that’s the leather seats featured here, unlike the usual cheaper vinyl interior, which says a little something about our test car here, as if the three unusual gauges in the center weren’t enough to give it away.
Our sample Beetle isn’t just a normal top spec SEL like you’ll find in other Volkswagen trim lines, this is the R-Line. And the R-Line is something a bit more special. Especially since they’re only available via special order. What really comes down to this R-Line is not just the upgraded sportier body flair or large 19-inch alloys with red brake calipers, but it’s what’s under that curved hood. A 2.0-liter, turbocharged, four-cylinder engine – same one found in the infamous GTI. It churns out 210-horsepower and nearly the same in torque – which means zero to 60 mph in less than 7-seconds – assuming you can lay the power down without the front wheels loosing traction – good luck!
But wait, there’s more – unlike the normal 1.8T, this 2.0T gets paired with the fantastic DSG six-speed automatic – something you’d find in Audi’s. This dual-clutch auto has sharper, crisp responses and that’s before sliding the gear lever into Sport. Sport mode manages the gears better by holding them longer and making the throttle mapping more responsive and will even rev-match when slowing down. And if you’re really feeling frisky, shift from the steering wheel mounted paddle. If you’re a shift for yourself person, like we prefer to do, there is an available six-speed manual. Fortunately for Volkswagen they managed a way to maximize fuel efficiency without sacarfising fun with 25 mpg combined average on premium fuel.
When it comes straight down to dynamics however, that’s where we really experience the sweet side of the R-Line’s personality. The R-Line’s sport independent suspension system behaves like a well manner child – it’s stiff when it counts and rides comfortably during day-to-day life. More so, its traits are more relevant on the twisty bits with minimum body roll. Topping it off, the skinny steering wheel feels great in the hands and Unexpectedly it’s very receptive to inputs and can feel the weight of the car in the corners. It’s fairly agile and loves darting in and out of traffic – even though it is a bit husky for its size.
Now convertibles aren’t cheap, all that roof top engineering is expensive on top of the additional structural support that happens in areas we can’t see – all of that just so we can drop the top in less than 20 seconds to enjoy a cool morning breeze. And there’s no easy way to break it’s hard to swallow price of $36,870. If that is a bit much, there are two other lower level trims in the R-Line line-up starting at $29,790. But you’ll lose out on those sexy Bi-Xenon Headlights with curved LED daytime running lights, leather seats, keyless go and blind spot monitoring.
The question really lies, is something so unique easy to live with every day. Sure! With our nearly $37,000 price tag we did find some featureless disappointments like no power adjustable seats or automatic climate control. But the comfort was there – there’s even room in the back seat for friends – for a very, very short amount of time. And if you can make your bags fit, there’s even enough trunk space for a shopping trip. Just leave the convertible top cover at home – it’s a useless in-the-way feature anyways.
A year ago we reviewed a Beetle Convertible, it was a base 1.8T that merely peeked our interest for a whole five minutes before some other shiny toy came along. The R-Line is something a bit different – more special to say. Maybe it’s it handsome good looks, or that little gurgle from the exhaust when it upshifts. Sure 37-grand is a toughie to chalk up; although, you won’t find anything as special as a custom ordered R-Line rolling through your streets.
|Price (As Tested):|
|2016 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible R-Line SEL:||$36,050|
|2.0-liter Turbocharged Four-Cylinder – 210-horsepower/207lb-ft of torque – 0-60MPH: ±7.0 seconds|
|EPA MPG: 23/31/26 (city/highway/combined) – SSB Average: 24 MPG’s – Fuel Range: 300 Miles|