2013 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible

When Volkswagen revived the Beetle as the New Beetle in 1998, it caught on immediately as the cutest car on the market, and when the convertible followed for 2003, fans could combine cute with top-down fun. Volkswagen sold more than 230,000 New Beetle ragtops over the next eight years before dropping the coupe and convertible from its lineup for the 2011 model year. Volkswagen revived the Beetle coupe last year, and now it's the convertible's turn. VW unveiled a larger, sportier Beetle convertible at the 2012 Los Angeles Auto Show, once again adding open-air excitement to the cutest car on the market.

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2013 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible

Click to enlarge picture2013 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible (© Rick Wait)

2013 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible

Click to enlarge picture2013 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible (© Rick Wait)

2013 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible

Click to enlarge picture2013 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible (© Rick Wait)

2013 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible

Click to enlarge picture2013 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible (© Rick Wait)

2013 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible

What is it? A drop-top version of Volkswagen's retro compact.

What's hot? When automakers pop the top off a coupe to create a convertible, often the car loses structural rigidity, but Volkswagen has made several changes to shore up the Beetle drop-top and make it sportier. Additional welds, thicker bars in the front pillars, more sheet metal in the lower body, and greater use of high-strength steel are just some of the measures that give this Beetle 20 percent more rigidity than the previous car.

We like two of the Beetle convertible's optional engines, too. It is offered with the brand's thrifty 2.0-liter 140-horsepower turbodiesel, as well as the sprightly 200-horsepower turbocharged 4-cylinder engine found in the GTI and Jetta GLI

In addition to the regular model range, the 2013 Beetle convertible will be offered in three special editions to commemorate Bugs from the past. A '50s Edition convertible comes with black paint, a tan interior and attractive alloy wheels with hubcaps. The '60s Edition has two-tone seats and Denim Blue paint, and the '70s Edition has Toffee Brown paint and chrome disc wheels.

What's not? The 2013 Volkswagen Beetle convertible's base engine is a pedestrian 2.5-liter 170-horsepower 5-cylinder that doesn't offer much power for its size and isn't very fuel-efficient. It is due to be replaced throughout the VW lineup within the next year or so.

How much and when? The 2013 Volkswagen Beetle convertible starts at $24,995 and is due in December 2012.

MSN Autos' verdict: We like the look of the revived Beetle, and it drives pretty darn well, too. While the Beetle convertible won't be quite as sporty as the stiffer coupe, we hope the improved structure will provide a more exciting driving experience to go with the inherent fun of driving with the top down. We also like much of the design freedom Volkswagen has exercised with the latest Beetle, and the '50s, '60s and '70s special editions are just three more retro-fun expressions of that freedom.

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Kirk Bell has served as the associate publisher for Consumer Guide Automotive and editor of Scale Auto Enthusiast magazine. A Midwest native, Bell brings 18 years of automotive journalism experience to MSN, and currently contributes to JDPower.com and Kelley Blue Book's kbb.com.