We have all seen them: beat up old VW bugs with off-road tires, brush bars, and an ominous looking engine protruding from the ferrous oily cavity at the back. These Baja Bugs look like one of the most exciting, rewarding ways to become a paraplegic. Now VW wants to get in on the action with its Beetle Dune concept, debuting at the Detroit Auto Show next week.
Of course, these are Germans we are talking about, so the Dune concept is all together more refined and sensible. VW’s engineers took the regular Beetle, lifted it by two inches, added some side skirts, and bolted some skis to the roof. This may not be nearly extreme as some of the dune conquering monsters of the ’70s, but it’s likely to be much easier on the ol’ spine.
Fortunately, you are compensated for this extreme Teutonic practicality with a bit of engineering magic. The Dune’s running gear comes from the R-Line Beetle, and that’s great. The Dune gets an awesome 210 horsepower turbocharged TSI four cylinder. This engine makes the R-Line shockingly fun to drive, with almost go-kart like driving mechanics.
The Dune should get basically the same suspension set-up as the R-Line and that is also good news. With a two-inch lift, the Dune is likely to be a bit less sporty and a bit more lean-y in the corners. But that’s the unrelenting laws of physics for you.
VW hasn’t decided whether it will produce the Beetle Dune or not. But my guess is that it is at least a possibility. Producing the Dune shouldn’t be too difficult. After all, it uses primarily existing components. So, really, it is just a question of interest. And, for what has always been a bit of a lifestyle vehicle, why not get it with some extra ground clearance and a ski rack?