Iconic Beetle Baja Bug makes a come-back

Volkswagen has revived the Beetle Baja Bug with the release of the Beetle Dune, the first crossover Beetle derivative in over 80 years.

001-off-my-wheelsBrian Joss – The production Beetle Dune was premiered at the 2015 Los Angeles Auto Show. The Dune’s striking design is enhanced by its 18-inch wheels and the wider and lifted body all of which revive the characteristics of the legendary dune buggies.

In South Africa, the Beetle Dune will only be available with 1.4 TSI engine with 110kW power output. It is mated to a 7-speed DSG transmission.

The Beetle Dune: the first crossover derivative in 80 years. Picture: Motorpress
The Beetle Dune: the first crossover derivative in 80 years. Picture: Motorpress

The year 2000 marked the beginning of a vision of a Beetle Dune. A concept car based on the New Beetle was designed for the Los Angeles Auto Show that year. It featured a lifted body painted bright yellow, and it had a transparent, removable roof section. Back then, sixteen years ago, Volkswagen said this about the New Beetle Dune concept car: “The fact that this off-road Beetle with its transparent and removable roof section has more of a nautical than rustic look sets it clearly apart from other products of this segment that is positioned precisely between cars for normal roads and off-road vehicles.” As a concept car, the New Beetle Dune gave an outlook of what might be possible. At that time, there were no plans for a production car. But Volkswagen designers never forgot this car; its charisma – like that of the original Beetle – still impresses today. Thus, it was pure passion that drove Volkswagen designers to continue to develop these icons. And so it came to be. Under the leadership of Klaus Bischoff, head of design at Volkswagen, a team went to work at the end of 2013 to transfer the concept of the New Beetle Dune to the 21st century Beetle. Another concept car was revealed in January 2014 at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit. This time the concept car transferred the concept to production.

he Beetle Dune has a unique and powerful character with its off-road looks, new bumper designs, front diffuser, rear diffuser, lifted body and new for the model range, Canyon 18-inch alloy wheels. The front end has been extensively redesigned. What remained unchanged are its basic iconic style and the layout of the typical round headlights. The entirely new front apron design has an extremely dynamic appearance. Defining its style here is a large, central air intake with a black honeycomb screen. The screen widens in a downward direction, which accentuates the dominant, sporty look of the front end. The screen is integrated in a Reflex Silver frame. To the sides of the central air intake there are two inserts with shapes that are trapezoidal toward the centre of the car, and their frames are matt black. Mounted in these inserts are the fog lights and turn signals. The Beetle Dune can also be made out by another feature: an additional air intake beneath the engine hood.

The black off-road accents are set off as defining elements of the side profile, especially with one of the lighter exterior colours. There is an emphasis on the wheel well extensions which has been designed with one outer and one inner radius. They display a rugged image while also creating a harmonious unit with the charismatic design of the flared fender of the Beetle. Both wheel well radii transition seamlessly into the wrap-around body extensions of the “Dune.” Also creating a charismatic image in side profile are the black side trim panels (stylised “Beetle” running boards) and the side sills which are finished in Reflex Silver. Above the side panels there is a black double stripe that extends to the “DUNE” signature at the front. An elegant feature is the anodised aluminium side window trim.

Three elements define the image of the rear body: the large rear spoiler, the newly developed LED tail lights and the newly designed bumper. The standard rear spoiler, painted in glossy black at the top and in the car’s exterior colour at the bottom, optimises downforce at the rear axle. The new LED tail lights generate an entirely new night design. The very special character of the Beetle Dune is also highlighted by its bumper. The background surface for the license plate and the lower area are designed in matt black. Integrated centrally here is a diffuser in glossy Reflex Silver.

The Beetle Dune can be ordered in one of three colours, Pure White, Reflex Silver and new Sandstorm Yellow.  Reflex Silver is the finish colour for the front and rear diffusers, exterior mirror caps and side sill extensions. The Beetle Dune can also be ordered with an optional  black painted roof. The Beetle Dune has wider track widths compared to the other Beetle derivatives: widened 7 mm (front) and 6 mm (rear). Ground clearance was also increased by 14 mm compared to other Beetle derivatives to improve all-terrain performance.

“The Beetle is different. It always has been. And this applies to the latest derivative in full measure. A car beyond all conventions. Charismatic and independent. The windshield rises relatively steeply, which is reminiscent of the world of classic cars,” Volkswagen said. Then there is the instrument panel – the dashboard – which combines innovative technologies and user controls with painted surfaces and a glove compartment like the one in the air-cooled Beetle. It offers plenty of space and comfort for four persons. There are seats that can handle a ride over the race track and road trip. And it has forms that are never an end to themselves, but always have a functional aspect as well. Such as the design of the instrument panel, which in fact serves as a visual bridge to the times of the first Beetle without being retro. The Dune team customised this interior even further. Three features are dominant in colour here. First, there is the dashboard painted in the standard Sandstorm Yellow Metallic colour with door shoulders. The dashboard and door shoulders can be changed to black. They are compatible with all three exterior paint finishes, Pure White, Reflex Silver and Sandstorm Yellow.

Second, there are the dial surrounds of the main and auxiliary instruments, which are also finished in Sandstorm colour. Third, there is the contrasting stitching in the coordinating colour Yellow Curry that is used on the front sport seats (including centre armrest) and rear seats, leather-trimmed steering wheel (with “DUNE” logo), parking brake lever grip and gear shift grip. The decorative stitching of the cloth floor mats is also designed in the same colour. Both of these colours, Sandstorm and Curry Yellow stand out very distinctly in the Beetle Dune, because all of the other elements are designed either in black or aluminium look. Black interior features include the Fabric seat upholstery: Combination of dark Ceramique cloth and black leatherette trim with contrasting “Curry Yellow” stitching, door trim panels, roof pillars and headliner.

In addition to visual customisation, other extended interior/functional features of the Beetle Dune include automatic headlight activation, manual lumbar support in front, illuminated make-up mirrors, cruise control system, automatically dimming rear-view mirror, rain sensor for the windshield wipers, Park Distance control (front and rear) and Hill Hold Assist. Optional features include sport seats with Vienna leather in Titanium Black, Bi-Xenon headlights with separate LED daytime running lights.

The Beetle Dune comes with the latest generation of Volkswagen infotainment systems. Similar to other Beetle derivative, Dune is offered with the standard 5-inch touchscreen radio/CD Composition Colour system and optional the 6.5-inch Composition Media and Discover Media with satellite navigation systems. The standard system, the Composition Colour, has very good sound with eight loudspeakers, CD player with MP3, SD card slot, Bluetooth connectivity, USB and AUX-IN ports.

The Fender sound system is offered in conjunction with Composition Media and Discover Media. The customer also gets adjustable ambient interior lighting in three colours (white, red, blue). Along with indirect illumination in the door shoulder, it also includes a light ring around the loudspeakers in the doors. The Fender sound system has two tweeters installed in the mirror triangles and two in the rear side trim panels. The woofers are located in the front doors, and there are other woofers in the rear interior side trim panels. In addition, a subwoofer in a closed bass box is integrated in the trunk. The heart of the sound system is a 10-channel amplifier with Class A/B output amplifiers and 400 watts of output power.

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