Wednesday, November 9, 2016

VW’s Dune droptop is a peppy, cool-retro Beetle

Mark Glover’s AutoGlo reviews of the latest motor vehicle models also can be seen on The Sacramento Bee’s website at

This review first appeared in the October 2016 edition of the Northern & Central California Cruisin’ News published out of Folsom, California – mg

Sacramento, California Over the years, I’ve driven so many variations of the Volkswagen Beetle that the myriad changes have washed over me like so much white noise.

Until now.

A recent week in the 2017 VW Beetle Dune Convertible showed me that driving the iconic post-World War II sensation can still be a fun, heart-pumping experience.

My droptop was wearing saucy “Sandstorm Yellow” paint, Dune badging and a power black cloth top that went up and down with ease.  Beetle devotees will notice DNA from the old Baja Bug in this model, and it’s a great retro shout-out to the vehicle that won hearts in Southern California in the 1960s.

The Baja Bug look is enhanced by a sizable air-intake opening on the front end.  The fog lights are encased in two black, honeycomb vents on either side of the centered intake – another visual plus.  The tester rode high on 18-inch aluminum-alloy wheels.

This Dune surprised me with its muscular performance, courtesy of a 1.8-liter turbocharged-4 making 170 horsepower.  I smoked the tires the first couple times from a standing start.  That wasn’t my intention.  That was the little vehicle telling me to be careful with its more-than-adequate power.

Once you get the rhythm of the accelerator, the Dune just scoots along.  Brisk starts easily create space between you and trailing traffic.  The convertible is agile enough to zip into tight spots without aggressive braking.

All this was enjoyable from a cockpit that was attractive and well-designed.

A two-tone interior color scheme was sufficiently sporty, and the Dune was equipped with more connectivity devices and high-tech options than I’d ever use in a lifetime.  Controls were within easy reach and easy to use.

Gas mileage was a very nice 25 miles per gallon in the city and 34 mpg on the highway.  The starting price is about $24,000 on the nose, although the Dune can be dressed up with some technology extras.

Fellow auto reviewers have sometimes put down the Dune as just a dressed up version of the basic VW Beetle convertible, and I can understand that to some degree.

However, I think this Dune has enough of its own spice and Baja Bug mojo to be a special model to Beetle-loving buyers.

Please be advised that the Volkswagen Beetle Dune Convertible is best enjoyed as a two-person runabout.

Take it out for a weekend drive, open it up and get away from the crowd.  Just my 2 cents on this retro-themed machine.

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