Northwest NEWS

January 4, 1999


Test Drive: 1999 Volkswagen Cabrio GLS

Volkswagen Cabrio   Convertibles are fun, even in winter, and the new 1999 Volkswagen Cabrio is no exception. Volkswagen has designed a cute and distinctive car with this model which originated from the classic Beetle Cabriolet.

   The 1999 Cabrio is a 2-door, compact 4-seat convertible that is sporty and peppy. There are two models available: the GL and the GLS. The 2.0L, 115hp engine and the 5-speed transmission are standard in both models.

   The horsepower is there for all situations, pulling out in traffic and going up hills. The 2.0L SOHC engine has 4 cylinders in a newly designed, more compact cast-iron block, producing 115hp at 5,200 revolutions per minute. The maximum torque is 122 ft. lbs. at 2,600 rpm.

   Other improvements for 1999 are a crankshaft-driven oil pump, a new two-piece aluminum intake manifold and stainless-steel exhaust manifold, lightweight single-coil value springs, and a semiautomatic toothed camshaft drive-belt tensioner that drives the coolant pump.

   Standard equipment on both models includes air-conditioning, 8-speaker cassette stereo with CD capability, a real glass defoggable rear window, ABS brakes, remote key, anti-theft alarm system, airbags (front only), and a pollen and dust filter.

   The GL base price is $17,975 and the GLS, which I test drove, has a base price of $22,290. A 4-speed transmission is optional.

   The inside is compact and efficient. The leather seats are comfortable and have curved sides which remind you to reduce your girth as you sit down.

   I liked the retractable key with the remote features. It comes in its own leather bag and will remotely open and close the car, as well as open the trunk. A small button on the side of the key case allows the key to collapse into the side of the case.

   I did find that putting the key into the ignition was confining. There is very little clearance between the key and the steering wheel. I only needed one experience to learn how the key functioned. After getting gas, I put the key in the ignition and the alarm went off. It took me a minute to fix.

   The heater was fast and effective, which I appreciate in this cold weather. The instrument cluster has two large dials that glow in blue with red markers. It took me a minute to find the inside button for door lock/unlock, which Volkswagen put in the center strip on the console.

   The Cabrio GLS has a power-operated convertible top (cloth or vinyl), leather seating, and power windows with one-touch up or down feature. The trunk opening is smaller than most, but actually holds more than I thought it would. The back seat is split and can be put down to handle long items.

   For more safety, the Cabrio comes with a fixed, integrated roll bar. A 2-year, 24,000 mile warranty is included.

1999 Volkswagen Cabrio GLS