“2017 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible Dune 1.8T”
New model inspired by Classic Baja Bugs
Volkswagens have long been popular with driving enthusiasts in virtually any all forms. The regular VW Beetle in both Coupe and Convertible form and VW Microbus rank among the most popular basic models. Some individuals however are not content to leave well enough alone, and are driven to modifying their forms of transportation to suit their tastes and purposes. The iconic Dune Buggy and Baja Bug were the result of taking a perfectly good Volkswagen and transforming it into a VW with a special purpose in mind. This movement which still lives on today, inspired the “People’s Car” folks to develop a late model, updated “Dune” replete with modern mechanicals and technological advances. Enter the 2016 Volkswagen Beetle Dune, which is available in both Coupe and Convertible form, broadening the model line with a new design and sporty premium features.
The exterior styling of both open and closed versions delivers a bolder persona with new bumpers, side moldings, wheel design, along with an elevated and wider stance, that provides additional ground clearance. Included in the new technology inventory are LED taillights and Park Distance Control. Standard fare serves up VW Car-Net® App-Connect technology, USB connectivity and a rear view camera. New lighting and Technology Packages are optionally available.
Visually, the 2016 VW Beetle Dune introduces a bolder appearance to the VW stable. New front and rear fascias along with prominent black wheelwell arch extensions that flow into the bumpers, contribute to the more dramatic stance with 0.4- inch elevation change and 0.4 -inch wider track.
Up front, highlighting the new front end look, the bumper features a large central air intake that increases in width toward the lower edge as well as a black honeycomb screen with an aluminum-look that flows into the front skid plate and is flanked by two black honeycomb vents containing the foglights.
In profile, the Dune’s sides are characterized by the contrast between the polished aluminum sills and black trim strips that emulate the running boards of the original Beetles. Side mirrors feature contrasting black lower portions and Reflex Silver upper caps. Dune graphics are showcased on both doors. In the rear, the Dune sports a large spoiler and standard LED taillights, with the diffuser serving as a skid plate, while the new front bumper design incorporates matte black and aluminum elements.
Entering the cabin, the new VW Beetle Dune provides sport seats with contrasting orange stitching and a leather wrapped multifunction steering wheel. A new MIB II infotainment system serves as the base for VW’s available Car-Net suite of features whose connectivity includes App-Connect technology allowing integration with major smartphone platforms such as: Apple CarPlay®, Android Auto ™ and MirrorLink for seamless connection to compatible smartphones. The Composition Media infotainment system features a 6.3-inch capacitive touch screen sensor that enables tablet-like gesture controls (swiping and pinch-zooming. MIB also possesses a proximity sensor, which detects a nearby hand and automatically switches the display for a more user-friendly selection of specific functions. USB and Bluetooth connectivity is standard as is a rearview camera and Park Distance Control (Park Pilot) system. Also available is a Technology Package) that adds Climatronic® dual-zone automatic climate control, along with Fender® Premium Audio System, KESSY® keyless access with push-button start and a tilt-and-slide sunroof on the Dune Coupe.
Safety equipment and features abound in the Dune, assisting in accident avoidance and enhanced vehicle control.
Power is provided by a transversely front mounted 1.8-liter,TSI, DOHC, turbocharged 4-cylinder engine with Direct Injection that delivers 1709 horsepower at 4,800 rpm, while producing 184 pound feet of torque at 1,500 rpm. The engines motive force is geared to the front driving wheels via a six-speed automatic transmission with manual shift capability.
My test 2016 Volkswagen Beetle Dune was a drop top convertible with a Sandstorm Yellow Metallic exterior finish and Black Dune side graphics and a Black cloth top which lowers with the windows 10 seconds and raises in 15 seconds along with the windows at the touch of a header-mounted switch. The interior was executed in Dune Gray and Black with Yellow piping. The dash and upper door trim was done in body color. The base price for the Coupe was set at $23,995. – add $5,400 for the base sticker price of the Convertible Dune ($29,395) and $820 Destination and Handling fee for both body styles. My convertible tester had the following options added: the Driver Care Package and Technology Package, which elevated the final tally to $31,210.
SUMMARY: The 2016 Volkswagen Beetle Dune Convertible seats four adults comfortably with the top up or down. The top when down may be manually covered with a fitted boot, but it is not really necessary and is time consuming. The visors when swung to the side are totally ineffectual in blocking out the sun, but hey, it’s a convertible, so who cares.
This is a really fun car to drive, and the bright paint scheme draws admiring looks (or not) and the 5-“Y”-spoke machine faced 18-inch alloy wheels with painted inners contribute to the “Hit the Dunes” look. The ride quality is smooth and predictable, and the handling characteristics lean to the sporty side of the driving equation, with the wider tires and track providing enhanced stability.
Acceleration is instantly on tap with no significant turbo lag, and the automatic transmission is efficient and smooth, although a dual clutch version would be a plus.
All in all, the VW Dune Ragtop is a fun, attractive and affordable fresh air motoring machine. It is priced competitively with the Fiat 124 Spider and Mazda MX-5 Miata, and it has seating for two additional passengers. YThink of it as the “Gold Bug”.
SPECIFICATIONS: 2017 Volkswagen BeetleDune Convertible 1.8T
Base Price: $29,395.
Price as Tested: $31,210.
Engine Type and Size: 1.8-liter TSI, DOHC, turbocharged 40cylinder with Direct Injection.
Horsepower (bhp): 170 @ 4,800 rpm
Torque (ft./ lbs.): 184 @ 1,500 rpm
Transmission: Six-speed automatic with manual shift capability.
Drive Train: Transversely mounted front engine / Front-wheel drive.
Suspension: Front – Strut-type with lower control arms, coil springs, telescopic dampers and anti-roll bar.
Rear – Multi-link, coil springs, telescopic dampers and anti-roll bar.
Brakes: Power-assisted dual circuit four-wheel discs (vented front) with ABS and ESC.
Tires: Continental ProContact 235/45 R18 94H mounted on 5-“Y”-spoke alloy wheels.
Wheelbase: 100.0 inches
Length Overall: 168.7 inches
Width: 71.7 inches
Height: 59.1 inches
Curb Weight: 3,093 lbs.
Turning Circle: 35.4 ft.
Fuel Capacity: 14.5 gallons
EPA Mileage Estimates: 25 mpg city / 34 mpg highway
Drag Coefficient: 0.39
Ground Clearance: 5.9 inches
0 – 60 mph: Not tested.
Arv Voss is a Northern California based freelance motoring Journalist and member and past officer of several noted Automotive Journalist organizations who contributes regularly to a number of national and international media outlets. He reviews not only cars, trucks and SUVs, but motorcycles and unusual wheeled vehicles as well.