Words: Stephen Spyropoulos
Photography: Stephen Spyropoulos
Published: August 10, 2016
Don’t you love that feeling you get when you put on a fresh pair of denim jeans? Have you ever wished your car’s seats could feel just like that? Clearly someone at Volkswagen has, because they’ve given us the opportunity to test drive a limited edition run of their Beetle, aptly named the Denim Edition.
Bringing back the spirit that the classic Volkswagen Beetle gave in the 70s, this limited run of Denim Convertibles feature an interior and soft-top fabric designed to look like a sweet pair of Levis. Beneath the Denim, however, this is still a Beetle that suffers from some of the stereotypes that come with driving one. The Beetle’s history has been a very peculiar one, going from one of VW’s most beloved children and a hit on the auto-show circuit to becoming the quintessential ‘black sheep’ of the family.
When it was resurrected as the New Beetle, it quickly went from a “chick car” – paired with a flower vase on the dash – to a grown up and mature adult car that could actually compete with vehicles in its class. This gave Volkswagen a much needed adrenaline shot to the chest. Now you can find Beetles in many different trims relaxing on dealer parking lots.
Despite a recent powertrain transplant featuring a new turbo engine, the Beetle is still mainly a statement of wanting to be cute and nostalgic. While it drives reasonably well, its unique experience can run stale real quick. Thankfully, the appeal is prolonged by the addition of these special editions and multitude of different trims. Heck, you can even get the Dune Beetle and take it off-roading – what a time to be alive. The Beetle Denim takes these sentimental feelings to the next level.
Volkswagen is set to only produce 2,000 of these Beetle Denims: 1,000 in Stonewashed Blue, and the rest in a Pure White paintjob. It may sound ridiculous but I actually had a lot of fun driving this bug. It’s always been the type of car that takes you away from the hard stressors of life. Simply drop the top, put on your favourite tune, and hit the road.
Its quirky looks could cheer you up even on the gloomiest of days. It, unlike many convertibles, has a very smart and sophisticated appearance regardless of whether the roof is up or down – too many convertibles look absolutely dreadful and have skewed proportions the instant the roof disappears. Getting topless, Beetle-style, is not painstaking, and in a mere 11 seconds the mechanical ballet of moving parts tucks the soft top just behind the rear seats.
The Beetle also comes with a tonneau cover that is supposedly designed to fit over the top once it’s folded down. I beg to differ, because after spending 30 minutes fighting with the cover to get into place, I was beat. The tonneau is just an accessory that will collect dust in the shed. Luckily, the top looks just fine without the aforementioned attachment.
With a fairly quick turn-in response and almost no body lean through corners, the Beetle retains a sporty feel that can leave you with a grin on your face. But don’t expect it to feel like a GTI or like a regular Golf in terms of agility. Compared to sharper handling VWs, the Beetle can feel a bit soggy, but it likely won’t bug too many drivers. However, the Beetle does have some inherent deficiencies that could not go unnoticed.
In one instance, when you push the Bug to its limits it reflects odd and disconcerting behaviour. Dive into an unfamiliar corner at higher speeds and you’ll notice that after lifting your foot off the throttle, the tail threatens to whip around. You’d be completely crossing your arms and spinning the wheel to opposite lock before you can say Fahvergnügen. Despite the Beetle’s inherent appeal, I wouldn’t recommend it as a first choice for a new hotheaded teenage driver.
The 1.8-litre turbocharged four-pot that we have come to love is once again featured on the Beetle. 170 horsepower is supplied, making for effortless acceleration and decent mid-range torque. The six-speed automatic does the job, and that’s about it. Pinning the throttle from start and the front tires will squeal away. However through the mid-range it continued to pull with authority with non-existent turbo lag.
The interior is again, the biggest story on the Beetle Denim Edition. The seats are handsomely upholstered with a combination of light blue fabric, white piping, and sided with a dark blue leatherette. The seats have a denim-like rough texture, but give the Beetle an overall much more elegant look than the 1970s version.
Contrasted red stitching and white piping feature designs inspired by denim jeans complete the cabin, right down to the red tabs that say “Beetle.” The seats have jean pockets on the sides too that can fit a cellphone or a small notepad. The interior is topped off with an elegant silver and blue dash finish.
Like the rest of the 2016 Beetle lineup, the Denim has Volkswagen’s new and updated MIB II infotainment system. The 5-inch touchscreen display has a higher resolution and much better graphics than before, and includes Apple CarPlay this time around, as well as a much-improved backup camera. With the as tested price that is just under $30,000, the Beetle’s interior feels just as premium as more expensive vehicles.
With the Denim roof up, the interior is quite noisy, but is to be expected with a soft top. I found only one flaw with the Beetle’s driving position: the wide center console intrudes into my legroom. Otherwise, the position is quite accommodating and spacious with decent headspace, even with the top up.
Getting into the Beetle is also another challenge. Long and heavy front doors are difficult to open in tight parking spots. The door opening is large, but even with that being said passengers seeking to gain entrance to the second row have the challenge of getting over the seatbelt and cramped quarters. With the top down, rear passengers will have their hair blowing around like they were on the set of Twister, not that it’s a bad thing.
I originally came into the Beetle Denim expecting to find a soft ride with slow performance from the added weight of the chopped roof. I was left impressed by just how much fun it was to drive—it leaves you with a smile around the city as well as a rewarding turn of speed, even with the base engine.
The Beetle Denim adds in a special bit of nostalgia to the mix of this already enjoyable car. I can see it as being a perfect summer cruiser for a couple that frequents the beach, surfboards and swimsuits in hand. And don’t worry, the only fashion blunder you can make with this car is if you were to wear the proverbial “jean suit” to go along with it, which all of us should have grown out of by now, even if our choice of a car with a denim interior might suggest otherwise.
型号 Model: 2016 Volkswagen Beetle Denim Convertible
顏色 Paint Type: Stonewashed Blue Metallic
廠方建議售價 Base Price: $29,350
試車售價 Price as Tested: $29,350
引擎 Engine: 1.8-litre turbocharged 4-cylinder
最大馬力 Horsepower: 170 hp @ 6,200 rpm
最高扭力 Torque: 184 lb-ft @ 1,500 - 4,750 rpm
波箱 Transmission: 6-speed automatic
擺佈 Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, FWD
油耗 Observed Fuel Consumption (L/100km): 9.7
輪胎尺碼 Tires: P215/55R17