Let’s face it: the original Beetle, and the current version, are instantly recognizable. Sure, the Beetle may not be everyone’s kind of car, but it is affordably unique.
For 2017, the “Bug” comes in S, SE, SEL, Dune, #PinkBeetle and R-Line trim versions. I recently tested a 2017 Volkswagen Beetle Dune edition.
The current Beetle’s silhouette, with reduced “bubble” and flatter wheel arches, has been around since 2012, so it not new. The exterior packages are, and my “Dune edition” tester differs from standard-issue Bugs. Notable features include slightly raised ground clearance, massaged bumpers, huge air intakes, body cladding, flat-black stripes, rear spoiler, LED lighting and attractive 18-inch wheels.
Beneath the Beetle’s plunging hood resides the R-Line 207-pound-foot turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four. Don’t look for a manual transmission option; not enough takers, so VW dropped it. All turbo cars in the States get the six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. Combined, this driveline’s fuel economy returns are not great for a car this size and a curb weight of just over 3,000 pounds.
Moving inside, the Beetle’s interior has grown up a bit. Thankfully, the flower-bud vase is gone, but the painted plastic dash and panels and inexpensive materials remain. A few additional gripes include useless visors, shallow/narrow cargo bins/areas, and a very tight rear seating section. The specs indicate seating for four, but the passengers better be short.
The Dune-exclusive cloth and leatherette front sport seats were supportive, and abundant head, leg, and arm room means you don’t feel snug. Dune dress-up items include contrasting stitching on steering wheel and brake lever. All controls, gauges and screen were easy to access and clearly visible.
My test car had the prerequisite tech features including rear-view camera, park distance control, 6.3-inch touch screen, AM/FM/CD/satellite radio, Bluetooth, multi-function display with trip computer and VW Car-Net app-connect.
I was surprised by the large 15.4-cubic-foot trunk. One good rear seat feature is that the seat backs fold forward to enlarge storage to almost 30 cubic feet.
The “scurrying” part of this car is its off-the-line jump and deeper passing power. Zippy, yes. Fast, no. The six-speed dual-clutch automatic conducts some really smooth, quick shifts.
I primarily drove the Beetle on suburban streets and for short highway stretches. The ride is nicely dampened and pampers passengers a bit. However, when pushed there is a small amount of go-cart maneuverability left over from the previous-generation Golf/GTI platform that the Beetle is built on. It cornered well, without sloppy body roll, but the brakes and steering could be turned up a notch or two to provide more feedback and response.
The Beetle Dune may project an aggressive “off-road” look, but the slightly increased ride height won’t get you much, as it’s still a front-wheel-drive vehicle.
If you’re looking for a unique, small, affordable car, the 2017 Volkswagen Beetle Dune is a consideration.