Providing an early look at what VW describes as a "possible production version" of what would be the sportiest iteration of its most iconic vehicle, the Volkswagen Beetle Dune Concept made its global debut in the Motor City. Reprising the name of another cool but far-less buildable Beetle-based one-off that pleased crowds at the Los Angeles Auto Show in 2000, VW execs admit this latest Dune Concept has a lot more real-world potential. Rumors out of Europe indicate that a volume-build version could be in showrooms as early as next year.
Finished in a yellow-orange Arizona Metallic with matte- and gloss-black accent bits and a full panoramic glass top, the Beetle Dune Concept stresses its made-for-fun persona with a number of unique exterior enhancements. The most obvious comes in the form of two inches of additional ground clearance. Unique two-piece black wheel-arch extensions also increase total vehicle width by 2.2 inches to accommodate 1.1-inch wider front/rear track dimensions and allow for the fitment of 19-inch alloy wheels wrapped in 245/40 tires. Brushed-aluminum off-road-look trim panels on the Dune's side sills, nose and tail are complemented by a genuinely functional chrome-plated underbody skid plate.
Additional changes to the front of the Dune Concept are highlighted by a bolder fascia treatment that brings a new front apron with a larger air intake and restyled fog lamp housings that feature semi-circular LED lights and LED turn signals. Rounding out the remix is a new hood with a raised center section and functional cooling vents on its upper surface. A similar recasting was done at the rear where the Dune features a trick integrated ski/sandboard carrier that makes use of both its roof and decklid spoilers.
The former serves as an upper anchor, while the outboard elements of the latter swing away to accommodate either bit of action kit and then fold back into place to hold it securely in position. VW says that even with skis in on board, the Dune's hatch remains fully functional.
The Dune Concept's interior displays a similar active-lifestyle remake, starting with sport seats covered in Titan Black leather with Ceramique-colored Gobi breathable fabric inserts, all suitably set off with Arizona-colored accents also found throughout the passenger cabin. A unique dash brooms the "Beetle bin" in favor of a passenger-side grab handle and incorporates a supplemental digital gauge cluster that indicates pitch and roll angles. The Dune Concept also is fitted with a primo infotainment system that features a high-res 7.7-inch AMOLED touchscreen and integrates VW's versatile "Sideways" app. In addition providing a wide range of conventional real-time information Sideways can pinpoint the location of friends and offer route guidance to facilitate meet-ups.
Beneath its high-profile exterior, the Beetle Dune Concept shares the same basic mechanicals as an R-Line Beetle. Its 2.0-liter/210-horsepower turbocharged TSI 4-cylinder engine is paired with a 6-speed DSG dual-clutch automatic transmission and the sport-tuned suspension works with VW's XDS electronic differential lock to enhance traction.
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