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2013 Volkswagen Beetle TDI Manual Convertible Review

MPG-o-Matic 2013 Volkswagen Beetle TDI Review Summary: If you’ve ever dreamed of a fuel-efficient clean diesel convertible, those dreams just came true. The 2013 Volkswagen Beetle TDI is the most fuel-efficient – and only diesel – ragtop offered for sale in the USA today. When equipped with the six-speed manual transmission, it delivers a driving experience unlike anything else on the road. The joy of heavy pedal rapid-fire 3000 RPM shifts coupled with light-footed fuel-stingy glides is positively splendid. While the back seat is tight and the styling is not everyone’s cup of tea, the Beetle TDI delivers competently.



While the 2013 Volkswagen Beetle can be equipped with a naturally aspirated 2.5-liter inline five- or turbocharged 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder engine, I lucked into the extremely fuel-efficient and relatively rare TDI Clean Diesel Convertible. On the coldest week of the year. Not exactly the best week to test a brand new ragtop. Lacking warm weather, I did the only thing I could do … I drove the wheels off it.

The Volkswagen Beetle TDI’s 16-valve Dual-CVVT 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder clean diesel engine produces 140 horsepower and 236 foot pounds of torque. The Beetle TDI can be equipped with either six-speed manual or dual-clutch DSG automatic. Torque peaks at 1750 RPM (revolutions per minute), while horsepower (HP) peaks at 4000 RPM. This gives the Beetle unmatched driving characteristics among convertibles … seeing that it’s the only ragtop diesel sold in America.

The official mileage estimates for the 2013 VW Beetle TDI are 28 city / 41 highway miles per gallon (MPG). Despite cold temperatures, we had no problem dispensing with the EPA numbers in our manual-equipped Denim Blue tester as we rolled up over 600 miles, scoring 48 MPG on the Interstate highway and 37.7 MPG combined in a week where the temperatures ranged from the low thirties down to the single digits.

Interstate Mileage Testing:

  • Cruise control set to 68 MPH, A/C off, windows up: 45.9 MPG
  • Cruise control off, target speed 60-72 MPH, A/C off, windows up: 50.1 MPG

Interstate highway testing temperatures were in the low-thirties.

Our test vehicle was fitted with 17-inch aluminum-alloy wheels and 215/55 R17 H all-season tires Continental ContiProContact tires. The 2013 Beetle TDI convertible is equipped with a 14.5 gallon fuel tank and is designed to run on low sulfur diesel fuel. The Beetle’s turbo-diesel engine does not require DEF fluid for emissions compliance. Highway driving range is excellent. The Beetle’s bulbous shape saddles it with an equally bulbous Drag Coefficient of 0.38. The curb weight is 3296 pounds.

The Beetle is fitted with four-wheel-disc brakes with Anti-Lock Braking (ABS), Electronic Brake Pressure Distribution, and Electronic Stability Control (ESC). 11.3 x 1.0-inch vented discs are used on the front , with 10.7 x 0.4-inch solid discs on the rear.

We experimented with a number of different shift points on the 0-60 MPH run and were able to make the run in under ten seconds. Video for the runs did not meet our standards for inclusion in the review, due to problems with the camera rig. (The shaky image was due to one of the adjustment knobs being a bit loose.)

The monochrome multi function indicator provides Average and Instant MPGs (which VW refers to as “Consumption”). There’s also a Turbo Boost gauge in the pod on the top of the dash. The trip computer also provides trip time, length, average speed, and miles to empty. The gauge pod includes a sport lap timer/stopwatch, and an oil temperature gauge, along with the boost gauge.

The TDI Bug’s interior has a highly functional retro futuristic design. The leather-wrapped sport steering wheel provides a host of controls and the seating surfaces are V-Tex leatherette. The front buckets feature three-level seat heating and six-way manual adjustment with two-way manually adjustable lumbar support in the driver’s seat.

Our tester was equipped with the Sound and Nav option package. The Fender Premium Audio System includes 8 speakers and a trunk-mounted subwoofer. A three month SiriusXM satellite radio trial subscription is provided free of charge. Hands-free Bluetooth capabilities include audio streaming.

There are 12-volt outlets located at the base of the dash and at the back of the center console. The USB iPod port is located in the lower glove compartment.

The Beetle’s second row seat is tight, with 37.6 inches of headroom and 31.4 inches of legroom. Although there’s just 7.1 cubic feet of storage in the trunk, a split fold down rear seat allows loading of longer items, including snowboards.

All in all, the Beetle TDI Convertible is one of the most unique cars available in America today. While the styling might not suit everyone’s tastes, the Beetle TDI’s fun-to-drive and fuel efficient attributes cannot be denied. Zipping through the gears is a hoot. This little critter is all about saving fuel and enjoying the trip, where ever your destination might be.

In the second part of this video, We provide a behind-the scenes look at highway testing with the TDI Bug …

Warranty Information

  • New Vehicle Limited Warranty – 3-year/36,000 miles
  • Powertrain Limited Warranty – 5-year/60,000 miles
  • Corrosion Perforation Limited Warranty – 12 year/unlimited distance
  • No-Charge Scheduled Carefree Maintenance – 3 year/36,000 miles
  • Roadside Assistance – 3-year/36,000 miles

2013 VW Beetle TDI Convertible Review

4.4
Daniel Gray
2013-2-16

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