2016 VW Beetle Dune

2016 Volkswagen Beetle Dune Coupe

I recently drove the 2015 Beetle R-Line and loved every minute I spent in it.  Maybe some more than others; the Beetle holds a special place in my heart from my youth.  See my earlier review for more [add link to prior review here]. When I heard I was getting the 2016 Beetle Dune Coupe I immediately went on-line to see what was new for the Beetle.

The Dune Coupe is a nod back to the Baja Bugs and is very cool and very retro.  Mine came in a very distinctive Sandstorm Yellow (more about color in a bit).  It turned heads everywhere I went. I think people were trying to figure out what it was. Especially with other Beetle drivers.  I didn’t stop to talk to any of them because I was having too much fun driving my Dune Coupe, but the looks on their faces said “How’d he get that . . . and what is it?”.

So what’s new with the Dune Coupe? Let’s start with the exterior. New aggressive styling is what sets this Bug apart from the rest.  Rugged, sporty and aggressive is how VW describes it.  They have raised the ride height by 0.4 inches and widened its stance by 0.6 inches to give it the rugged appearance of the California Baja Bugs.  The front lower part of the bumper sports a huge black honeycombed central air intake and the rear has a massive spoiler also trimmed in black.  Huge Dune graphics with dual racing stripes run along the lower side of each door just above black trim strips that VW added reminding us of the running boards from the old beetles.  The 18-inch Canyon aluminum-alloy rims with a five spoke design are new and distinctive.

VW reports that the Dune will come in three exterior colors: Sandstorm Yellow, Pure White or Deep Black Pearl.  The Sandstorm Yellow brings the same exterior color into the interior on the upper door trim and across the dashpads and the Pure White and Deep Black Pearl will have black door trim and dashpads.  The Sandstorm Yellow is a very retro and distinctive color and people felt very strongly about it.  Everyone had an opinion and no one was middle-of-the road on it. My son didn’t like it at first and as the week wore on he claimed it got uglier.  Others loved it. Distinctive! Retro!  Color is very much a personal choice kind of thing so I think you will either absolutely love the Yellow Sandstorm color or you will hate it.  The one thing I will say about it. I didn’t see another car on the road in the same color.

As awesome as the exterior is on this new Beetle, the interior is even better.  Bringing the Sandstorm Yellow exterior color into the cockpit on the door trim and dashpads seamlessly connects the interior with the exterior.  The D-shaped steering wheel has a distinctive Dune badge on it, and, along with the shifter knob and parking break, is wrapped in leather with contrasting yellow double stitching.  VW has sprung for sports seats for this Beetle covered with light grey cloth inserts with dark grey surround and contrasting yellow trim.  Even the dash gauges are trimmed in Sandstorm Yellow.  This is one sharp, distinctive, eye-catching interior. If you are tired of plain, boring, single color, one-dimensional interiors, then you need to check this interior out.  It is flat-out cool looking.

Located in the middle of the Sandstorm Yellow dashpad, you’ll find VW’s Composition Media Infotainment System.  The 6.3 inch screen includes Apple CarPlay®, Android Auto™, and MirrorLink®, which allows for perhaps the easiest most seamless integration of a smartphone that I have come across in the industry.  I have an iPhone so I interfaced using Apple CarPlay® which I have used on numerous occasions on other vehicles and have found it to work very well.  I did not plug in an adroid phone, but I would assume the integration is just as seamless.  The infotainment system also includes a captive touch sensor that allows for gesturing and very functional backup camera with parking sensors on the front and rear of the vehicle.

My Dune included the Technology Package which adds Climatronic® dual-zone automatic climate control, Fender® Premium Audio System, KESSY® keyless access with push-button start, and tilt-and-slide sunroof (option pricing unknown at this time).  The Fender premium audio system, which has at least 8 speakers (there may have been a few more that I couldn’t find), sounded truly amazing rivaling the Bowers and Wilkins system that was in the $130,000 BWM I drove the week before (which had about 119 speakers in it).  This is hands-down the best factory installed stereo system I have heard in a car priced at under $30,000.  With Pandora running through the 8 (or more) speakers via my iPhone connected through Apple Carplay®, I didn’t care where I was going or when I would get there. Outstanding!!!

The rest of the Dune features were the same as the R-Line I drove in 2015 with the same post collision braking system, stability control system, etc., except (unfortunately) the Dune was equipped with an automatic transmission and the smaller 1.8-liter direct-injection turbocharged TSI® four-cylinder engine kicking out 170 horses and 184 lb-ft of torque.  VW says the Dune will also be offered in a convertible.

My wish list for VW for the Dune? Please include the six-speed manual shift transmission that I had in the R-Line.  As of right now it looks like the Dune will only come equipped with the automatic, but I think the Dune was meant to be driven manually.  I would like to see the slightly more aggressive 2.0-liter turbocharged TSI® four-cylinder engine that puts out about 50 horsepower more than the Dune’s.  Also I hope VW adds blind spot monitors to the Dune like come with the premium R-Line SEL trim package.  It’s a safety feature I see more and more often and think that people find important to have.  Even if they leave the Dune the same as the preproduction vehicle I drove and totally ignore my very reasonable wish list, at a starting cost of $23,995, the Dune is a fun head-turner at an incredibly reasonable price.

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