Up: Best looking Beetle, that ducktail
Down: No performance enhancements
Neutral: Still a great special edition VW
I have been a Volkswagen fanboy for most of my adult, car-owning life. I’ve owned a 2010 GTI, I currently have 1981 Rabbit, and I’ll always have eyes for a pristine MK1 GTI. The German juggernaut has somehow mastered the formula to creating not-flashy-yet-still-exciting vehicles. Ignoring the Hitler crap, VW made the very first mass produced “peoples car”—the Beetle—all the way back in 1938. And soon, nearly 80 years later, the little bug that could’s production is coming to an end.
But what’s a proper sendoff without a couple of special editions? The 2017 Volkswagen Beetle Dune pays homage to the Beetles of the 60’s that were either stripped down to their frames, chassis, and engine, only to be covered up with a cartoonish fiberglass tub (so cartoonish, in fact, that it literally became a cartoon in the form of Speed Buggy), or jacked up on hilariously tall suspensions to support massive tires. These classic Bugs were used to traverse sandy beaches, back roads, and, of course, dunes!
But the 2017 Beetle Dune isn’t technically a Dune Buggy or a Baja Bug. It’s actually more of a…let’s say…spiritual successor. Built on top of the standard third generation Beetle platform, the 2017 Dune is a special edition vee-dub that, in my opinion, is the best looking Bug ever made. That’s right, I said it! You can purchase a Dune in black, white, or my personal favorite, Sandstorm Yellow Metallic.
So what makes the highest starting priced Beetle so special other than the paint? Quite a lot. On the exterior you get uniquely aggressive front and rear bumpers, bespoke 18″ Canyon wheels, “DUNE” side stripes, rugged trim around the arches, and that magnificent ducktail spoiler; all of which come with this car and this car only. Slap a coat of that Sandstorm paint on the body and you’ve got a definite head turner!
Now with exterior changes and a name like Dune, there has to be performance upgrades to compliment, right? Unfortunately, no. Despite the visual touches, Volkswagen has only widened the wheelbase by 0.2 inches and lifted the suspension a measly 0.4 inches; both out of necessity to fit the special Canyon wheels. Under the hood is the same 2.0 liter turbo inline-4 producing 174 horsepower and under the car is the same 6-speed automatic transmission you’d get in the rest of the Beetle lineup. Oh, and Dune only comes in front wheel drive.
Fortunately, Volkswagen has carried custom bits into the interior of the 2017 Beetle Dune as well. Inside you’ll find an exterior paint-matched dash, signature yellow piping in the V-Tex seats, yellow stitching around the steering wheel, yellow instead of grey inside the gauges, and a big fat “DUNE” plate at the bottom of the steering wheel. And since the Dune starts at $26,790, you’ll also drive away with literally every option VW has available. Not a bad price for a special edition Beetle that’s also fully loaded!
Despite lacking performance upgrades, driving the 2017 Beetle Dune is still a pleasure. The turbo’d Bug is slower than it’s brother, the GTI, but still manages to feel like a completely different car. That’s partly to do with the different styled interior and partly to do with the roof line and flared arches. The New New Beetle is nimble. It loves zipping around in traffic and squeezing into tight spaces. Drop the transmission into “Sport” and be prepared for some high revving action!
At the end of the day, a utilitarian would not care to look twice at the 2017 Volkswagen Beetle Dune. It offers no performance advantage over a base Beetle which starts nearly $8,000 less. But gone are the humble days of the “people’s car”. Modern Beetle buyers are looking to make a statement. They want to stand out. And at the same price as a fully loaded Beetle SE, wouldn’t you rather cruise around in the best looking Beetle ever made?
Better yet, this particular 2017 Beetle Dune is currently on the market. If you have any interest, send us a message and we’ll put you in touch with the owner!