By on October 23, 2017

2017 Volkswagen Beetle Dune

It’s clear what Volkswagen is trying to do with the Dune trim level of its Beetle two-door.

The company claims the Dune is inspired by classic Beetles that were modified into “dune buggies.” Which is fine, but all it really is is a current Beetle with a raised suspension, black exterior cladding, rear spoiler, bumpers unique to its trim, unique air intakes, 18-inch wheels, LED taillights, special interior stitching, and cloth/leatherette seats.

Other than that, little sets it apart from its Beetle brethren. It’s powered by the same 1.8-liter turbocharged four-cylinder found in most Beetles (the R-Line has a 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder) and mates to a six-speed automatic transmission.

A small, relatively lightweight (it’s still a tick over 3,000 pounds) compact coupe like the Beetle should be fun to drive, even if it’s raised, like the Dune is. But “should be” and “is” are two different things.

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By on May 13, 2016

2016 Volkswagen Beetle Dune Low Angle Front 3/4, Image: © 2016 Kamil Kaluski/The Truth About Cars

When a concept car is introduced at a major auto show, it provides a glimpse into the future of an automaker’s next model. Some concepts are really cool. Some are not. Most never 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 an off-road-ready New Beetle powered by a 2.3-liter VR5 that sent its power to all four wheels via a six-speed manual transmission.

More than a decade later, a similar, but water-downed, Beetle Dune Concept was shown at the 2014 North American International Auto Show. That car was raised two inches, had a 210 horsepower engine, a cool ski rack, but was front wheel drive. That concept car finally made it into production this year with relatively minor changes — but should it have?

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