What is it?
The Volkswagen Beetle Dune is a toughened-up, high-riding version of the German manufacturer's three-door hatchback.
First revealed at the Detroit motor show back in January, it is one of a number of new crossovers models presently under development at Volkswagen, which is keen to build on the sales success of similarly conceived front-wheel drive offerings such as the CrossPolo, CrossGolf and CrossTouran.
Officially, the Dune is a concept that awaits production approval. However, Wolfsburg officials have confirmed to Autocar that moves are already underway to place it into production at Volkswagen’s Puebla factory in Mexico alongside the standard version of the Beetle in late 2015, both in coupé and cabriolet bodystyles.
While the one-off concept is meant to provides an idea of how the showroom version of Volkswagen’s latest crossover will appear when it goes on sale, indications are it will be toned down slightly before it hits showrooms.
“There are regulatory measures to consider that will see certain details altered. However, the spirit of the design will remain,” says Ingo Bruechmann, who was among the in-house team of Volkswagen designers who contributed to its design.
To keep costs down and streamline production, the stylistic changes over the standard Beetle centre mainly around non-steel body panels. Included are new LED headlamps graphics, a new front bumper with a prominent grille, round LED fog lamps housed low down within the outer air ducts and a silver protector plate.
The bonnet has also been modified, with added contouring and a pair black air ducts that serves to providing it with added height. Along the flanks, there is black plastic cladding within the wheelhouses and, in a move harking back to the original Beetle, a running plate underneath the doors.
At the rear, Volkswagen’s design team have provided the Beetle Dune with a prominent roof spoiler and large rear wing – the latter housing extendable blades either side to allow the external storage of surfboards, skis, snowboards and the like.
Other changes? The tail lamps receive new semi-oval LED graphics, giving the car additional visual width. There is also a more structured rear bumper than that adorning the standard Beetle. It receives a deep licence plate recess that mirrors the shape of the front grille as well as protective cladding that houses two reasonable sized round chromed tail pipes.
Power for only fully built up Beetle Dune in existence right now hails from a turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine tuned to deliver 207bhp, making it more powerful than any of its standard siblings, which offer a maximum of 158bhp in turbocharged 1.4-litre four-cylinder petrol guise.
No official torque figure has been revealed, but we’re told the early concept driven here packs somewhere “in the region of 206lb ft on a characteristically wide range of revs”.
Although it channels its reserves exclusively to the front wheels, Volkswagen claims the high riding hatchback boasts more than a modicum of off-road capability. Helping the Beetle Dune to venture away from the bitumen and into less forgiving terrain is Volkswagen’s XDS electronic differential lock and a six-speed dual clutch automatic transmission.