2016 VW Beetle Dune Review, a fun look that's all facade

– 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.

Pros

  • 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...