Billed as a modern interpretation of the Baja Bug, the Beetle Dune is 0.4 inches taller and 0.6 inches wider than the regular Beetle on which it's based. It receives off-road-inspired add-ons such as a new front bumper with aluminum-look trim, black fender extensions on all four corners, new side skirts, a large trunk-mounted spoiler, and an air diffuser that doubles as a skid plate.
Volkswagen aficionados will be able to tell right off the bat that the decals above the rocker panels hark back to the running boards that came standard on the original, rear-engined Beetle for decades.
Both versions of the Dune are offered in three colors called Sandstorm Yellow, Pure White, and Deep Black Pearl, respectively. All models come with 18-inch alloy wheels wrapped by all-season tires.
The rugged treatment is a little less pronounced inside. The cabin has nonetheless been spruced up with sport seats for the front passengers, orange contrast stitching, and a leather-wrapped multi-function steering wheel.
The Dune is available with Volkswagen's vastly-improved MIB II infotainment system, which integrates the car's entertainment, navigation and climate control systems while offering crash notification, roadside assistance and stolen vehicle location assistance. Car-Net also features remote vehicle access, speed and boundary alerts and it can provide a vehicle health report. The bulk of Car-Net's features can be accessed via a smartphone.
Under the Hood
The only engine offered is a turbocharged 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 170 horsepower at 4,800 rpm and 184 pound-feet of torque at 1,500 rpm. The four-banger spins the front wheels via a six-speed automatic transmission.
Gas mileage checks in at 25 mpg in the city, 34 mpg on the highway, and 28 mpg in a combined cycle.
The Beetle Dune coupe comes equipped with dual front airbags and combination side/curtain airbags. Other safety systems include traction and stability control systems as well as an Intelligent Crash Response System that automatically unlocks the doors, disconnects the battery terminal from the alternator cable, shuts off the fuel supply and turns on the warning hazards and interior lights in the event of a collision.
The Volkswagen Beetle Dune is the only crossover-ized compact on the market today, so it doesn't have any direct competitors. Buyers who don't need the additional ground clearance can look at the MINI Cooper, while those who want to go off the beaten path with the wind in their hair can consider the Jeep Wrangler.