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Topless Beetle set for fun in the sun; road TEST.

Byline: MAXINE ASHFORD

SUNSHINE, sunflowers and a sunroof - all factors immediately associated with the iconic VW Beetle Cabriolet.

The sunshine may be a tad sporadic these days and the sunflower may no longer adorn the dashboard, but one thing is guaranteed - as soon as the temperature rises and the rain showers ease, the Beetle Cabriolet is a great car to be buzzing around in.

The latest generation car is lower, longer and wider than its predecessor, meaning front seat occupants can stretch out with plenty of leg, head and shoulder room.

And there is plenty of choice for buyers, who can pick from three petrol or two diesel engines with a choice of transmissions.

There are three trim levels - Cabriolet, Design and Sport - to select from, and three special models have a been created - a 50s Edition, 60s Edition and 70s Edition - which all have a their own bespoke features on top of the mid-grade Design trim level.

The 60s White Edition 1.4-litre 160PS petrol model with six-speed manual transmission I drove was priced at PS26,115 and can sprint to 62mph from a standing start in 8.6 seconds, topping out at 128mph.

According to VW figures it can delive i r combined fuel efficiency of 41.5mpg and carbon emissions of 158g/km.

The interior of the Beetle Cabriolet is beautifully styled and VW has gone back to its original models to get inspiration for the dashboard, which is taller than on most cars.

The car looks striking from any angle with its alloy wheels, black electric power hood, heat insulating glass, body-coloured door handles, chrome trim, rear tailgate spoiler and plenty more besides. And the interior is feature-rich, with techno treats such as dual-zone climate control, heated red and black leather seats, Bluetooth connectivity, cruise control, front and rear parking sensors, a touchscreen infotainment system with sat-nav, a DAB digital radio, six CD autochanger, USB and iPod cables and a Fender premium sound pack.

The boot is a little limited, capacity-wise, and loading is hampered by its small rectangular-shaped opening.

Elsewhere, though, there are plenty of handy storage options throughout the car, including a double glove-box and door pockets.

The roof can quickly and easily be lowered at the press of a button at speeds of up to 31mph in just 9.5 seconds, and the car's fun factor seems to increase tenfold with the wind-in-the-hair driving experience.

The Beetle Cabriolet is just as at home cruising around busy city centres as it is out on the open road, where it accelerates smoothly through the manual gearbox with ample power on tap as and when required.

All-round visibility is okay, although not brilliant through the small rear-view window, where the two rear headrests obscure the view considerably.

But that aside, the Beetle Cabriolet is fun, fun, fun all the way. It oozes class and there is something exhilarating about getting behind the wheel of a Beetle.

The vehicle boasts a comprehensive i list of safety specifications, including anti-lock brakes, traction control, electronic stabilisation programme, a flat tyre indicator and numerous airbags.

Prices are from PS18,405 to PS26,510.

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STRIKING: The VW Beetle Cabriolet
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Jun 20, 2013
Words:530
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