|The Dune adds some aggressive SUV-style trim to the Beetle that’s actually quite appealing. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
It was thoroughly and effectively redesigned in 2010 for the 2011 model year, the “New” internally named A4 version then old, resulting in the simpler “Beetle” nameplate getting the nod for this A5-based third-generation. It remains less frou-frou and therefore appeals to brawnier types, which has inevitably led to some very eye-catching special editions.
|The Beetle Dune looks right at home in this rural scene. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
The Dune does a pretty good job of toughening up the Beetle’s less than masculine image, as shown here at its photo shoot location next to a local river about five kilometers from my home. The gritty dirt underneath and natural background seems fitting, this being the “dune buggy” of the family, although the new Golf Alltrack is probably the more capable compact VW to take up and over unpaved hills.
|LED enhanced headlights join standard fogs, metallic detailing, and 18-inch alloys. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
Exclusive Sandstorm Yellow Metallic paint (it’s also available in Deep Black Pearl and Pure White) gets carried over to the dash and door uppers inside, where it’s joined by Curry Yellow piping and stitching on the otherwise black leatherette bolstered
|A body-colour dash and door uppers add flair to the Beetle Dune. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
The $28,890 Dune hardtop is not only a style icon taken to the next level, but it’s a well-equipped daily driver filled with the types of features today’s buyers want, such as auto on/off HID headlights with delayed shut-off, LED daytime running lights, fog lamps, LED taillights, heated power-adjustable side mirrors, proximity-sensing access with pushbutton start, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, rain-sensing wipers, cruise control, heatable front seats, a 6.3-inch colour infotainment touchscreen, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and MirrorLink, a backup camera, navigation, two SD card slots,
|Even the standard Beetle Dune comes swell stocked with features. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
Front-wheel motivation comes via VW’s turbocharged and direct-injected 1.8-litre four-cylinder that’s capable of a brisk 170 horsepower and equally enthusiastic 184 lb-ft of torque, while partially due to its six-speed auto with Tiptronic manual mode it’s rated at an impressive 9.7 L/100km in the city and 7.2 on the highway.
While it looks like an off-road warrior the Dune isn’t available with 4Motion all-wheel drive, but its electronic traction and stability control, amongst other driving aids, reportedly help it go farther into the wilderness than most would think possible, but unfortunately I wasn’t able to go bushwhacking during my weeklong test.
|Exclusive Curry Yellow trim highlights these otherwise white on black gauges that are easy to see in any light. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
Still, the circuitous two-lane riverside road was ideal for throwing the agile Beetle Dune around, the quirky looking two-door hatch handling well despite being quite tall. Its bulbous wheel arches are spaced wider than the upper portion of the car appears, allowing for a lot of real estate between the tires and therefore excellent grip through fast-paced the corners. The Beetle Dune tracks well on the highway too, although sudden wind gusts can knock it around a bit.
|VW’s latest infotainment system is superb. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
Of course, as life would have it the majority of time behind the wheel was spent in traffic, where the Beetle Dune’s impressive interior came to light. All of the body-colour surfaces and mustard hued detailing helped create a happy atmosphere even in the thickest quagmires of daily commutes, the same sporty leather-wrapped
|Black, grey and Curry Yellow trimmed upholstery really suits this special edition VW. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
This is nothing new for Volkswagen, its steering wheels some of the best in the industry, this one blinged up with piano black lacquered spokes that almost had me forgetting about the rudimentary monochromatic trip computer imbedded within the otherwise fabulously fun-loving curry-coloured gauge cluster.
Where the blocky “dot matrix” inspired graphics in this simpleton multi-information display are about as modern as the original Beetle’s shape, the infotainment touchscreen overtop the centre stack is as new and up-to-date as anything
|The rear seating compartment is roomier than it looks. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
The Beetle Dune’s seats are as comfortable as they’re attractive, with easy manual operation that included plenty of up and down adjustability as well as a lever for providing additional lower back soothing lumbar support. The Beetle’s tall roofline made access to the back easier than expected, while the rear seats were also more comfortable than I initially thought they would be. That roof height provides adequate headroom for smaller to medium-sized adults, although really tall teens might feel a bit cramped.
|There’s a surprising amount of space for cargo in back. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
In other words, the new Beetle Dune provides ample practicality with its big dose of funky style. That’s a tradeoff many are willing to make, but then again its relative popularity may not be enough to save it from the axe once 2018 comes to a close. Internet chatter (some from reliable sources) is predicting the iconic models’ demise next year, which probably makes financial sense despite being a downright shame. VW would be better served by a subcompact SUV now that the Tiguan has grown up in size, while word has it the long-rumoured Microbus is in the pipeline for 2022 production, electrified no less.
Therefore, if you like this special edition Dune or any other Beetle model you’d better grab one while you can.
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