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The Emoji-mobil

Text by Desmond Chan, sgCarMart.
Photo by Low Fai Ming, sgCarMart.

What comes to mind when you think of the Volkswagen Beetle? Haivanas, Ray-Bans, probably associations with the fairer sex. And this is understandable - the Beetle has developed a reputation for being a chic, lifestyle-oriented vehicle.

Ironic, considering the vehicle's genesis. The Beetle - originally known as the Type 1 - was the product of Nazi Germany, with Adolf Hitler ordering the development of 'The People's Car' (directly translating to Volkswagen in German). It was a cheap, basic and functional vehicle that is supposed to be easy to mass produce.

The Beetle's reputation has morphed significantly since, and it's probably for the better that it has discreetly shed its darker past. And no model best encapsulates this transformation than the new Beetle Cabriolet, a car for the modern generation.


But how do you talk about the Beetle? It's a divisive model that is adored by a dedicated few while panned by a handful of others. Thus, we figured it's best to review it using the language of the millennials - emojis.


First, let's begin with the things that make us smile. The new Beetle Cabriolet looks sharper, especially at the rear. With new angular lights replacing round ones, the back end looks less like a Jigglypuff than before, and that's a good thing. There is also a quirkiness to the interior that makes us smile, with its blend of black leather/fabric and white plastics.

The equipment level in the Beetle Cabriolet is also pretty good. There's an intuitive and straightforward infotainment system, steering wheel-mounted controls, and a Fender sound system that is particularly impressive.

Standard in the Cabriolet, the Fender sound system was created exclusively for Volkswagen, capable of pumping out your indie-rock tunes with great clarity and articulation. It's particularly useful when driving with the roof down, adding to the hipster ambiance of the whole car. And the foldable soft-top is also easy to operate, taking 9.5 seconds to open and 11 seconds to close.

You might think that's this is just a pretty car that will be miserable to drive, but you would be mistaken. Despite packing a relatively small 1.2-litre turbocharged engine producing 104bhp and 175Nm of torque, this little bug is actually not as slow as the numbers suggest. It accelerates earnestly, and the ride quality is comfortable.


Admittedly, there are some aspects of the Beetle Cabriolet that will make you frown a little. It is noticeably noisier compared to the standard Beetle. The rear is certainly tight, so ferrying anyone more than your significant other may be challenging.

Visibility out of the car also isn't great, especially with the roof down. And because of it's bootyliciousness, parking can be slightly challenging as your sense of spatial awareness is warped. Also, with the B-pillar pretty far back, reaching for the seatbelt can be an awkward affair, especially if you are short like this writer and have to sit quite far forward.


And then, there are some aspects of the Beetle that will just make you shrug. The most obvious one is the three performance gauges right smack atop the dashboard. There's a boost gauge, a stop watch (with a lap timer function) and an oil temperature gauge. In a Honda Civic Type R, those would certainly make sense. In a soft-top Beetle, however, our opinions differ.

We suppose the general look of the car is still slightly headscratching for us. It's a car that presents a particular kind of image, and if you are looking for that, then the Beetle Cab will certainly appeal to you. But stick four guys in the car with the roof down, and you do attract some quizzical stares.


This is still very much a Hufflepuff kind of car - sweet, cute, and a little quirky. It's a car for the young (and probably the fairer sex) adult who enjoys being out and about. It's cool in a very specific kind of way, for specific sorts of people. The sort of people whose Whatsapp conversations are peppered by smiley faces and eggplant emojis, people who embrace things like Snapchat and Instagram and those sorts of things.

All said and done, the Beetle Cabriolet is a car that will make you smile. It has that quality about it - it's a car that embraces its new aesthetic and doesn't take itself too seriously. It is a happy car. And if that's the image the car projects, it's certainly a pleasing image to have.

This article was first published on sgCarMart.

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