2017 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible Classic Road Test Review

Those who grew up with VW Beetles in their lives can’t expect everyone to appreciate their unabashed affection for the unusually
2017 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible Classic
Classic trimmed VW Beetle gets a sportier frontal design for 2017. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
shaped conveyance, but luckily there are still enough of us out there to continue its production. Word has it the Beetle’s days are numbered, but fortunately it has some life in it yet.

My most recent Beetle tester was a smart little Convertible in Classic trim, painted a lovely Dark Bronze Metallic that was more of a chocolate brown, with an ideally matched almond Beige soft-top. The colour reminded me of my dad’s personally repainted ’66 Beetle that started metallic brown yet ended up a strange yellow-orange we kids endearingly called puke, but that’s a story for another time.

2017 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible Classic
New Dark Bronze paint makes for a real ’70s era look. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
trim is about to make way for new Coast trim for 2018, which comes in much fewer colour options albeit retains the Beige roof and cool Classic alloys with chromed caps. The 2018 model gets a boost in engine output for its swansong too, bumped from this 2017 version’s 170 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque to an ultra Super Beetle-like 174 horsepower and identical torque. Ok, that’s probably not a lot to get excited about, although the 200-cc-larger 2.0-litre I-4 will reportedly improve fuel economy over the current 1.8-litre turbo-four’s 9.7 L/100km city, 7.2 highway and 8.5 combined rating, which is nothing to sneeze at even if the benefit is nominal.

The revised 2018 Beetle will make due with the same well-proven six-speed automatic
2017 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible Classic
LED-enhanced HID headlamps and fog lights are optional with the Classic. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
gearbox as this 2017 model, which I must say is a lot quicker shifting and therefore sportier feeling than some of the more modern nine-speed transmissions, while utilizing its Tiptronic manual mode makes it feel more like a true classic Beetle than merely leaving it in drive.

Beetles have always been nice riding cars, and this Convertible Classic is no different. It cruises nicely on the highway with the top up or down, the latter causing expected wind buffeting yet nothing extreme (unless in back), although I must admit that most of the time I drove with the top up. Yes, VW gave me this convertible as September ended and October began, which isn’t exactly drop-top weather despite our willingness to power it down for our photo session. We drove around with the heater cranked for a little fun, but I was quickly put in place by my
2017 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible Classic
Love the almond coloured Beige soft top. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
better half and the top went up to provide coupe-like silence and warmth for the rest of our weeklong test.

Of note, Comfortline trim was dropped earlier this year for a new Trendline base model that will continue into 2018, the 2017 model starting at $25,390 plus freight and fees. Classic, like next year’s Coast, is based on the Trendline, albeit gets more of a vintage look that I happen to like, this including the aforementioned steel wheel-like 17-inch Heritage alloys with chrome plated hubcaps, ’50s-era “Volkswagen” script badging at the back, plus a body-colour painted instrument panel, steering wheel spokes and door uppers along with two-tone black and camel beige upholstery with
2017 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible Classic
Body-colour interior trim joins additional Classic touches inside. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
cool light beige and cream checkered seat inserts. If only they’d added a matching picnic basket. Still, at $27,390 it’s hard to complain.

Additional Classic upgrades include an alarm system, auto on/off headlamps, metal doorsill plates, chrome interior trim, ambient lighting, a monochromatic multifunction trip computer, a leather-wrapped and contrast-stitched flat-bottom multifunction sport steering wheel, a contrast-stitched leather shifter boot and handbrake lever, rain-sensing wipers, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, three-way heatable front seats, plus VW’s 6.33-inch Composition Media proximity-sensing high-resolution colour touchscreen infotainment display with a rearview camera,
2017 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible Classic
The seats look right out of the ’50s, their inserts featuring beige and cream checkers. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
App-Connect smartphone integration for Android Auto, Apple CarPlay and MirrorLink, Bluetooth with audio streaming, eight-speaker AM/FM/CD audio with satellite radio, an SD card slot, and USB and aux plugs, while options include three new colours including the previously noted Dark Bronze paint and Bottle Green or Silk Blue.

A new Style package added luxury items like HID headlights with LED accents, fog lights, LED taillights, proximity keyless access with pushbutton ignition, dual-zone auto climate control, and upgraded Fender audio, which provided ample sound even with the top down.

2017 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible Classic
Rear seat roominess is limited, as is trunk space, which is par for the course with compact convertibles. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
top is powered, quickly lowering or raising back up again at the touch of a button, but I wouldn’t recommend wrestling with the awkward tonneau cover that requires serious muscle to click into place. I left it in the trunk, but if this were my personal ride I’d stow it in the garage, as there’s not a whole lot of cargo capacity available. At least the rear seatbacks flip down 50/50 for longer cargo like skis, making the most of a compact situation.

I should also mention that all 2017 Beetles receive the sportier R-Line front-end treatment as well as a standard rear spoiler, which honestly don’t work quite as well with the Classic look as the older rounded styling did. Still, it’s a minor point considering this car is enjoying its last kick of the can, so to speak. Fortunately it appears an electrified retrospective Microbus will replace it, but that won’t be here until 2022 according to the interweb rumour mill. Will the slightly revised new Beetle soldier on until then? That’s hard to say, but as long as it remains popular enough there’s no reason for VW to kill it off. I, for one, will enjoy each new modification and special edition as they arrive.
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