Launched in 1997, the New Beetle was something of a trinket, a lifestyle choice. Pandering to the Sixties flower-power mantra and with a decidedly cringeworthy interpretation thereof, it didn’t quite hit the retro-revival spot like BMW did with the Mini. The latter created a successful brand and several, though sometimes contrived, spin-offs.
The New New Beetle, which arrived in 2012, was something of a departure from its predecessor. What started life as the People’s Car was now proclaiming sportiness and dicing with enthusiast choices like the vaunted Golf GTI.
That’s no bad thing, because the GTI is quite possibly one of the greatest hatchbacks around, and being closely related to it means our long-term Beetle Cabriolet is a pretty interesting car to drive.
Our tester is the Exclusive trim and gets 20in Monterey alloy wheels, while the interior is upholstered in diamond stitched leather. This naturally pushes the price up to around Dh145K, which is Dh17K over the starting price of Dh128,000. The GTI, for context, starts at Dh119,739.
Mechanically, there is little separating the Beetle from the GTI. It gets a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine pushing out 210bhp to the front wheels via a six-speed double clutch gearbox. Being a convertible means the Beetle has piled on the pounds, pushing the 0-100kph time down to a relatively leisurely 7.4 seconds.
However, the point of the Beetle Cabriolet is hardly face-ripping performance; it’s more of an image thing. And despite its quirky looks, it no longer comes burdened with the preconceived notion that it might appeal to one gender more than the other.
Over the next eight weeks we will find out if the Beetle has actually become a more grown-up choice; one you could cross shop with the Golf GTI. Stay tuned.