Avoid any actual deserts
– Cleveland, Ohio
Volkswagen’s always trying to convince us the modern Beetle is still relevant. That’s a tough case to make considering its appeal is entirely emotional. A Golf, for instance, is cheaper, more functional, and more fun to drive. But a Beetle, well, nothing looks quite like a Beetle.
So VW turns to special editions to keep us interested in its scarab, often ones inspired by Beetles past. There’s the bumblebee-like GSR, the super-retro Classic edition, and this year’s Denim model, for instance, as well as this guy, the Beetle Dune. Had it not been for such positive reaction to the concept version in 2014, the Beetle Dune would’ve idled away into obscurity. But you all spoke, VW listened, and now the car’s in production.
- I’m a sucker for a good special edition. Fifteen years from now, when a miraculously pristine and low-mileage Beetle Dune crosses my path (thanks, Bring A Trailer), I know for certain I’ll feel that internal tug to buy it. This is a good special edition because the subject of its inspiration – Baja Bugs from 50 years ago – makes everyone smile.
- The Beetle itself is an emotionally appealing car design; the Dune’s features add to that even if they’re functionally meaningless in regards to the off-road character they imply. The new bumpers, faux skidplates, blacked-out wheel arches, bigger wing, and Dune graphics create a terrific look. Based on reactions to the one I was driving, it might be the most appealing Beetle look I’ve seen so far.
- At a few bucks over $25K out the door, the Beetle Dune is very reasonably priced. No surprise, as it’s actually based on a mid-level, not fully loaded, Beetle trim. Even with a sub-$24K starting price, the Dune comes nicely equipped with features like a 6.3-inch infotainment screen, heated seats, 18-inch wheels, and LED taillights.
- The Beetle Dune’s look is almost entirely non-functional. The car’s changes are limited to a 0.6-inch wider body, 0.2-inch wider track, and 0.4-inch suspension lift – that’s it. It couldn’t even cross a sand trap.
- I felt surprisingly more body roll in the Beetle Dune than other Beetles I’ve driven, both laterally from side to side and the pitch of the car from front to back. It’s probably due to the 0.4-inch lift in ride height.
- This Sandstorm Yellow Metallic color proved controversial in my circle. My mom dubbed the hue “baby shit,” which ruined any love I might have felt for it. Fortunately, the car also comes in black and white, and there’s a convertible version, as well.
- One minor gripe was that this tester’s air conditioning had trouble keeping up with 85-degree heat, which is ironic for a vehicle named ‘Dune’.
|2016 VOLKSWAGEN BEETLE DUNE|
|ENGINE||Turbocharged 1.8L I4|
|OUTPUT||170 Horsepower / 184 Pound-Feet|
|EPA FUEL ECONOMY||25 City / 34 Highway / 28 Combined|
|CARGO VOLUME||15.4 / 29.9 Cubic Feet|
Photos: John Neff / Motor1.com