1.8-liter DOHC I-4, turbocharged, intercooled (170 hp @ 4,800 rpm, 184 lbs-ft torque @ 1,500 rpm)
Six-speed automatic, front-wheel drive
25 city/34 highway/28 combined (Environmental protection agency Rating, MPG)
Base Cost: $24,815
As Tested Price: $25,065
Prices include $995 destination charge.
When a concept car?is?introduced at a major car show, it provides?the glimpse into the future of an automaker’s next model. Some concepts are really cool. A few are not. Most by no means make it into production. A few do. The Baja Bug-inspired VW New Beetle Dune Concept was unveiled at the 2000 Los Angeles Auto Show. It was a good off-road-ready?New Beetle?powered by a 2.3-liter VR5 that sent it’s power to all four wheels via a six-speed manual transmission.
More than a decade later, an identical, but water-downed, Beetle Dune Concept had been shown at the 2014 North American International Auto Show. That car grew up two inches, had a 210 hp engine, a cool ski rack, but had been front wheel drive. That concept car lastly made it into production this year with fairly minor changes — but should this have?
What makes the production Beetle Dune different?
Its?suspension is actually raised half an inch and the track is half an inch broader. The Dune supplements that with a special Sandstorm Yellow color, stickers, bigger fog lights, and a unique grille. Black wheel-arch plug-ins are supposed to add a rugged looks, and the silver side sills are a throwback to the running boards on the original Beetle. At?back, a whaletail-like spoiler is additional, perhaps to improve stability and enhance downforce, but the cool ski stand unsurprisingly did not reach production. Pure White and Deep Dark Pearl colors are also available.
The theme continues inside with more Sandstorm Yellow trim and a badge. The cloth manual seats tend to be supportive and allow easy access to the rear bench. The Dune comes standard with the new MIB 2 infotainment system. There’s no navigation available in the Dune, but there is an audio system able to play tunes via Compact disc, aux input, USB interface, and satellite radio. If that is not enough, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and MirrorLink apps allow simple smartphone connectivity.?The actual 6.3-inch touchscreen additionally works with the backup camera and beep-beep parking sensors.
That jacked-up suspension as well as wider track do wonders for appears of many cars and 4x4s, as it gives them the?purposeful rally or expedition stance, each of which were applied to the actual 4Runner TRD Pro, for instance. Darkish trim and big fog lights have switched Subaru around from a perishing carmaker to an SUV-selling champ. Within modern CUV-loving days, numerous other examples can be found of added off-road cut?turning a conventional vehicle into?a huge revenue achievement.
Yet, somehow, it just doesn’t work on the Beetle.
Perhaps it’s because of the fact that this exercise?is applied to a vehicle?already trying too hard to be cool.?Perhaps it’utes because most automakers a minimum of attempt to follow-up this stance costume with some all-wheel-drive equipment.?But not the Beetle Dune. There isn’t even a button with a snowflake on it that would allow some kind of a magical snow-belt?traveling mode. Nothing.
The Beetle Dune remains front-wheel drive and otherwise mechanically identical to the actual Beetle 1.8T. The turbocompresseur four-cylinder engine makes One hundred seventy horsepower and 184 pounds-feet?of torque?sent?to some six-speed automatic transmission. Nova decided not to offer the Beetle R-Line Two.0T engine or their fantastic DSG transmission, each of which were present around the 2014 concept car. Similarly, while bigger from 235/45-18, the tires tend to be R-rated all-seasons. This further limits any sort dirt or snow road venturing which any extreme sport-loving outdoorsy guy with a flat-brim hat might?attempt.
On the street, the actual Dune actually drives good. The suspension does a great job of absorbing road irregularities, supplying for a smooth trip. Despite the raised suspensions, body roll is actually minimal, and the vehicle feels very grown. The 1.8T engine makes good power from low engine rates of speed and pulls this Bug?with ease. The automatic transmission shifts quickly and when in sport mode could be mistaken for a DCT. Although the steering rack seems a bit slow with 3.1 becomes lock-to-lock, the Dune is not a boring car to drive.
But here is the Dune’s second problem: the base Beetle does all those traveling things better. Some years ago, I reviewed a Beetle TDI (R.I.P.) and it had been genuinely fun to drive. But the Dune, due to its suspension changes, bigger wheels, and an additional Eighty?pounds of trim, marginally loses out to the base Beetle in the fun-to-drive quotient.
To?collect more opinions of the Beetle Dune, I attended a local Cars and Coffee where the Dune intrigued many; some appeared closer, few required pictures, and two children asked to sit inside it. When I told them it had a 395 hp Golfing R400 engine and all-wheel drive, they were blown away. Inside a highly unscientific study on Facebook, the majority of my friends possibly hated it or were neutral towards the Dune. Roughly 1 / 2 of those that were natural said that they would like it a lot more with more lift and all-wheel drive, resulting in something similar to a two-door Subaru Crosstrek, or – you know – the actual Beetle Dune Concept vehicle.
The Volkswagen Beetle Dune starts at $23,995. The attention grabbing Sandstorm Yellow-colored Metallic paint is actually $250. With destination cost, this Beetle Dune came to $25,065, or roughly two grand more that a similarly equipped Beetle 1.8T Ze. The only realistic rival to the Dune seems to be the slow-selling Mini Paceman, which is less expensive in its most basic form but skyrockets after that.
The concept car through 2000 was instead inspirational. It showed that VW could?be imaginative, that it was trying to attract younger buyers, and that it was willing to take changes. Sixteen years later, the production Dune includes a problem: it’s all show, it lacks creativity, it’s trying to emphasize a dud, and the young adults know it.
But there’s what’s promising … the Beetle Dune will soon be available as a convertible!
[Images: ? 2016 Kamil Kaluski/The Truth About Cars]
Kamil Kaluski is the East Coast Editor for?Hooniverse.org. His ramblings on Far eastern European cars, $500 competitors, and other?miscellaneous car stuff can be found presently there.?
Volkswagen of America, Inc. provided the vehicle for the purpose of this review.