When we think of Volkswagen, we still think of the Beetle. In its modern incarnation, the iconic bug is a roomy, handsome and lively vehicle. With some creative product-planning, the Beetle can even be elevated to an object of desire.
This is what happened with a recent new release from Volkswagen of America: the Beetle Dune. It takes inspiration from the Baja Bugs of the ’60s. Those were Beetles modified for off-road use, although we’re talking more of desert and beaches here.
The Dune has new front and rear fascias, and noticeable black wheel arches that flow into the bumpers. For better versatility, the ride height has been raised by a little over 10mm, and the track widened by 15.24mm.
The front also features a large central air intake that widens toward the bottom edge, and a black honeycomb screen. An available lighting package adds bi-xenon headlights and LED daytime running lights, as well as LED license plate lighting.
The Dune’s sides have polished aluminum sills and black trim strips that are visually reminiscent of the original Beetle running boards. Filling out the wheel wells are considerable 18-inch Canyon alloy wheels with 235/45 all-season tires. At the rear, there’s a large rear spoiler, LED taillights, and a new bumper design.
Volkswagen cabins can be interesting if the engineers feel playful, and the Beetle Dune doesn’t disappoint. Inside are sport seats with contrasting orange stitching and leather-wrapped multifunction steering wheel. The Dune has an infotainment system with a 6.3-inch screen that can be swiped and pinched like a smartphone. There are also the usual tech toys like USB and Bluetooth connectivity, a rearview camera, and a Park Distance Control System.
Under the hood is a 1.8-liter direct-injection, turbocharged TSI four-cylinder engine. This puts out 170hp and 249Nm--more than enough to enjoy some sliding fun on the sand dunes.
Two versions will be available: a coupe and a convertible. The former will go on sale in the US first quarter next year, and the latter will arrive in the third quarter. We hope we see this here. A raised Beetle sounds just right for our potholed and flooded streets.