2017 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible Dune 1.8T

Primed for top-down summer fun, the 2017 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible Dune 1.8T is a decidedly more aggressive take on the standard Beetle Convertible, with additional air intakes up front, as well as black trim starting at the lower section of the front bumper to extend completely around the car. In the process, the matte-finished trim defines the fender arches, side skirts (recalling the original Beetle’s running boards) and rear fascia.

Other distinctive exterior elements include a slightly elevated ride height (.4 of an inch), a wider track (.6 of an inch), 18-inch wheels (offered in gold as an option), a honeycomb patterned front grille—punctuated by a silver skid plate, a “Dune” graphics package, a rear spoiler, LED taillights, and a rear skidplate.

Inside, if the Dune is ordered in its signature Sandstorm Yellow livery, the dash and upper door trims are painted to match the exterior. All other colors get black trim. VW’s sport seats are upholstered in black leather with grey cloth “V-Tex” seating surfaces and yellow piping. The instrumentation also gets yellow accents and the flat-bottomed steering wheel is emblazoned with the Dune logo. The armrest, handbrake, and shifter boot get yellow stitching as well. 

Comfort and convenience features include a 6.3-inch touchscreen capable of responding to pinch and swipe motions like a tablet computer. The system supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto to mirror the output of many of those smartphones’ features. Front seat passengers get lots of legroom, regardless of height. The rear seat is OK for short jaunts, if the folks up front are willing to slide their seats forward to share. Our fully loaded Dune test car also featured dual-zone automatic climate control, the Fender audio system, keyless access with pushbutton start, a rearview camera and rear proximity sensors.

Combined, these elements make for one nicely dressed Beetle. Driving around, it was pretty clear VW was successful in attracting attention to the Beetle once again. The tastefully adorned Dune garnered more than few appreciative looks as well as complimentary comments. Guys who usually wouldn’t look twice at a Beetle gave it nods of respect.

Power comes from Volkswagen’s 1.8-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine generating 170 horsepower and 184 ft-lbs of torque. The front-wheel drive powertrain is tied together with a six-speed automatic transmission. Performance is reasonable, if not exactly enthralling. The slightly higher ride height introduced additional suppleness into the ride quality, without detracting significantly from handling. We averaged 26 miles per gallon overall in a mix of highway, around town, and twisty back roads.

All in all, the 2017 Volkswagen Dune Convertible is a nice addition to the Beetle lineup with a distinctive look and a power retractable top capable of folding or deploying in approximately 10 seconds at speeds of up to 31 miles per hour. Like every Beetle convertible we’ve ever driven though, the roof can cut into rearward visibility and trunk space. You’ll only get 7.1 cubic feet of cargo capacity compared to 15.4 in the coupe (which can be expanded to 30 with the rear seats folded).

Based upon the Beetle Dune concept car shown at the 2014 Detroit Auto Show, the idea was inspired by the Baja Bugs and Beetle dune buggies of yore. However, the 2017 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible Dune 1.8T is decidedly street oriented. It also adds a masculine edge to the softly rounded contours of the Beetle, infusing the iconic VW with an extra touch of attitude.

Pricing starts at $29,395.

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