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2016 Volkswagen Beetle Dune 1.8T Convertible Review

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If you remember the VW dune buggy, it’s what the Beetle Dune is all about. It gets a more aggressive stance, redesigned bumpers, and a stylish rear spoiler to set it apart from the standard Volkswagen Beetle. The design is a take on desert icons like the Baja sand runner.

Even if you don’t like the new exterior color, you can’t say that it isn’t eye-grabbing.

We recently tested the all-new 2016 Volkswagen Beetle Dune 1.8T – we even dropped the top for extra summer fun.

What’s New For 2016?

The Beetle Dune is a new model featuring special front and rear bumpers, a large rear spoiler, silver mirror caps, black wheel arches, and running boards. A raised suspension and a wider track make for extra fun driving dynamics.

Features & Options

This Sandstorm Yellow Metallic Beetle Dune 1.8T ($ 25,065) features 18-inch Canyon alloy wheels, heated front seats, Dune seating surfaces with cloth inserts, V-Tex leatherette trim with orange piping, front sport seats, rearview camera, and a touchscreen sound system with proximity sensor. Additional features included a CD player, AM/FM/HD radio, SD memory card reader, voice control, heated side mirrors with integrated turn signals, heated windshield washer nozzles, and Park Distance Control (park assist).

The Sandstorm Yellow Metallic exterior paint ($ 250) was an option on our tester. Volkswagen didn’t give us pricing on the convertible option we had, otherwise, total MSRP (including destination) on the hardtop is $ 26,135.

Interior Highlights

Stepping inside reveals a unique Sandstorm Yellow Metallic theme. The controversial color is featured on the dash and door panels. The V-Tex leatherette seats come with a cloth insert and yellow stitching for contrast. We found this extremely comfortable as we got back into the car, with the top down, while we had breakfast at Sunrise Sunset in Denver.

The sun was beating down but the seats were still cool with the lighter cloth inserts.

The sports seats are especially supportive as we chucked the convertible around the tight mountain corners after breakfast. The theme inside is sporty with the flat-bottom, leather-wrapped steering wheel and Tiptronic automatic gearshift. In the back, there’s not much room for adults, but you can load up a couple of small kids. The rear seat is 50/50-split folding for extra cargo carrying ability. Cargo volume comes in at a respectable 29.9 cubic feet with the seats down.

There is a small trunk, usable only when the convertible top is up. The top lowers right into the trunk with the touch of a button at the top of the windshield.

Engine & Fuel Mileage Specs

The 2016 Volkswagen Beetle Dune is powered by a turbocharged 1.8-liter engine with 170 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque. It comes mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission with Tiptronic and Sport mode.

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It gets an EPA estimated 25/34 city/highway and 28 combined mpg.

Driving Dynamics

The Beetle Dune with its raised sport suspension and wider track makes it a hoot to drive. We took it out on the mountain curves and the driving dynamics push up the fun-to-drive meter. We would rate it a 7 on the scale with 10 being the top rung. The 1.8-liter turbo made good use of the rarified air at 8,000 feet elevation where we tested the Dune. This 1.8T was a new engine last year, much better than the 2.5-liter 5-cylinder it replaced. It has plenty of power for most needs.

The convertible chassis is a bit heavier and a bit more flexible, but it only feels different when you put the top down. On the way to breakfast on Sunday morning, we dropped the top and took off. The convertible top is super easy to lower with a button on the center top of the windshield. It only took about 10 seconds to power-lower into the trunk. On the way home, we hit a summer mountain rain shower, so we pulled over quickly, hit the button, and had the top back up in 10 seconds.

We were on our way before the clouds let loose.

Conclusion

Overall, the VW Beetle Dune Convertible is a good commuter and especially fun to drive in the city or mountains. We zipped in and out of heavy traffic with ease because of its size, and it’s easy to park in tight spots. We found a spot right up front at the restaurant because it was too tight for bigger vehicles, a bonus during busy hours downtown.

The convertible option adds another level of fun to your weekly commute. On the weekends, it will fit right into your busy lifestyle, activities, and adventures. Just lower the top, throw in the sports equipment, and you are good to go.

*Denis Flierl has invested over 25 years in the automotive industry in a variety of roles. Follow his work on Twitter: @CarReviewGuy

2016 VW Beetle Dune Gallery

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2016 VW Beetle Dune Official Site

Photos: Volkswagen of America, Inc.

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