World premiere in Detroit: Volkswagen presents Beetle Dune in offroad look
•Beetle Dune concept is a potential Cross version of the design icon
•All-terrain suspension, customized design and ski rack at the rear
Beetle Dune concept car
The Beetle is a phenomenon, regardless of where it shows up in the world. People are always happy to see this car. Whether in wintry Detroit, sunny San Francisco or venerable Boston – the streets are more colorful with the Beetle, and life is more carefree. The same happens in Europe, in pulsing Berlin and in rocking London, as well as in Asian metropolises such as exuberant Tokyo and the eternally exotic Hong Kong, and cities in the southern hemisphere such as Sydney and Cape Town. The Beetle. As a coupé and convertible. The greater the numbers of this design icon that populate the streets, the more intense is this phenomenon of likeability. Now Volkswagen is adding a new version: with the world premiere of the Beetle Dune. It is being presented at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit (January 13 to 26). A Beetle with a wide, cool and rugged offroad look; a car outside of the mainstream. The Beetle Dune.
Concept car with near-production design. The Beetle Dune is a concept car. At least for now. But everything about this car is feasible ̶ practically a production vehicle. The car points the way to next summer in the midst of a Michigan winter. And until the sun thaws this state again, the Dune will show how even the cold season of the year has its fascinating side: winter sports. That is why designers buckled a pair of skis to the back of this Beetle, whose body was raised 50 mm. Like the legendary Beetle of days past and the air-cooled sports car from Porsche. Dune – its name, its raised body, large 19-inch tires and all-terrain look all call out for this, just like the VW buggies conquered beaches and dunes in times past. And so, in the summer, skis for sandboarding are attached to the trunk lid – securely latched by clever mechanisms on the rear body and roof spoiler – surfing on dunes such as those at the Sand Master Park in Florence, Oregon. New sandboarding hot spots are emerging wherever there are dunes in the world. In the Beetle Dune, Volkswagen is revisiting an idea that was born in January 2000 with the New Beetle Dune presented in Los Angeles. While the concept car shown in California was more science fiction, especially in its interior and roof structure, in the Dune of 2014 Volkswagen is looking much more realistically towards a production vehicle.
Beetle Dune – side profile. The Dune concept harbors the potential for a new production version of the sportiest Beetle ever. Painted in “Arizona” – a yellow-orange metallic. This warm color itself is sure to elevate the mood. Meanwhile, the two-part wheel well extensions are offset in black. They are rugged elements with a matt finish like those used on Cross models of Volkswagen. The difference here: integrated on top of the main matt parts are what are known as “blades” – elements that are just 1.5 mm thick, as thin as a razor. They appear to hover above the rather massive wheel housings, because the shiny and matt parts do not contact one another directly. The wheel housings – each with a semi-hexagonal cut-out – widen the body by a considerable 24 mm on each side for a total width of 1,856 mm (gain of 48 mm). The Beetle Dune is 4,290 mm long (gain of 12 mm) and 1,536 mm tall (gain of 50 mm).
In keeping with its larger body width, the car’s track width was increased by 29 mm to 1,607 mm in front and by 29 mm to 1,573 mm at the rear. As a result, and also because of its low wheel pitch of 33 mm (instead of 44 mm), the 19-inch wheels equipped with 255/45 tires (diameter: 723 mm) fill out the wheel housings very well. Visually, they are reminiscent of the design of the 18-inch “Twister” Beetle wheels – with their five aluminum spokes, black painted interior spaces and a polished aluminum ring. The VW logo at the center of each wheel is embedded in a 3D module painted in the car’s exterior color.
The wheel well extensions transition into brushed aluminum sill trim panels, in which a chrome-plated underbody protection panel is placed. The sills are painted in high-gloss black where they join to the body up high. Above the side sills are the side trim strips that are typical of the Beetle which are designed in a stylized look of the legendary Beetle running boards here. They also feature a high-gloss black finish. The distinctive Dune logo, meanwhile, is placed in the area in front of the rear wing. The door mirror housings are vapor-coated in aluminum. The foot of the mirror that is integrated in the window triangle of the A-pillar is black.
Beetle Dune – front section. The designers came up with a new layout for many of the front end components. In this process, the iconic basic design and bi-xenon round headlights were preserved. New, however, is the design of the even more charismatic engine hood. The middle of the hood is now somewhat higher. Bordered by precise edges, the upper parts of the large hood’s recessed lateral surfaces each have a prominent engine vent. The black vent screens have a honeycomb look with fins; there is a chrome strip integrated at the middle of each of these screens which runs longitudinally.
Like the hood, the front apron, which has also been redesigned, also makes an extremely dynamic impression. Its styling features a large air intake in the middle with a black honeycomb screen (a typical design feature of the Volkswagen Cross models). The A-shaped screen widens in a downward direction, and this highlights the dominant and sporty look of the front end. The screen has a chrome-plated surround that also serves as underbody protection.
To the left and right of the central air intake and aluminum underbody protection, there are two inserts that extend towards the middle in a trapezoidal shape; their frames are painted in high-gloss black like the angular surfaces of the wheel flares. These inserts contain a highly innovative lighting design. The LED fog lights are integrated here in a semi-circular pattern. From inside, the LED rings have a matt finish, resulting in a uniform light band. At the center of the LED rings, a stylized nozzle emphasizes the three-dimensional look of the overall fog lamp module. Above the rings are three slender cross ribs and a narrow chrome strip, which – although it is only 9 mm high – serves as a LED turn signal indicator. When the driver activates the turn signal, an illuminating band of LED light is emitted from the chrome trim.
Beetle Dune – rear section. The multifunctional rear section of the Beetle Dune demonstrates impressively that it is even possible to reverse the design maxim “form follows function”. Those living in the northern hemisphere who do not wish to spend the entire winter in the snowy slush of the big cities can simply set out for the nearest ski area in the new Volkswagen, whether – from an American perspective – one prefers sandboarding in Florence, Oregon or the ski slopes in Aspen, Colorado. The Beetle Dune with its 155 kW / 210 PS turbocharged direct injection gasoline engine (23 mpg City / 29 mpg Highway), together with a 6-speed DSG transmission, will handle the trip to either destination perfectly.
And indeed not just a trip to Florence on the West Coast or to Aspen in the middle of the country, but to any place skis need to be transported. The skis are simply mounted to the outside of the trunk lid. To do this, the outer left and right parts of the rear spoiler’s black high-gloss component are swiveled out; the skis are then placed in the spoiler, then it is closed again by swiveling the black component back in place. At the top, the skis slide into a receptacle of the specially developed roof spoiler; there they are secured with a 20 mm wide belt. The roof spoiler itself – like the entire roof surface surrounding the transparent panoramic tilt/slide sunroof – is painted in high-gloss black. Viewed from the side, the roof spoiler has the appearance of a perfectly aerodynamic wing hovering in the wind. The love for detail is also reflected in the skis of the concept car: Like the add-on parts, they are painted in shiny black; meanwhile, the Dune signature and Volkswagen logo are offset in matt black. A silhouette of the Beetle Dune in its exterior color clearly identifies the car to which the skis belong. By the way, even with skis mounted to the car the trunk lid can be opened easily at any time.
The lower section of the bumper is styled in a sophisticated black; the surfaces around the license plate and the wrap-around extension of the upper wheel well are painted once again in high gloss black. Designed in an offsetting matt finish, on the other hand, is the lower termination around the chrome-plated underbody protection that is designed to function as a diffuser with the exhaust tailpipes integrated on the right and left.
Beetle Dune – interior. The Dune team also customized the entire interior both visually and technically. Two aspects stand out in particular. First, there is the dashpad painted in “Arizona” car color which does not have the legendary Beetle box on the passenger’s side this time – in this car it was replaced by the no less legendary grab handle of the original Beetle which consists of the rubberized material of the interior door handles and an integrated aluminum accent in car color. The Dune signature is embossed in aluminum – a haptic and visual highlight. Second, the entire infotainment system was implemented as a digital interface with a high-resolution 7.7-inch touchscreen. An AMOLED (Active Matrix Organic LED) display is used here which renders extremely fine details. A tribute to the New Beetle Dune of 2000 is the digital display of the car’s pitch and roll, which was integrated in the main instrument back then.
A user interface software highlight that was implemented in the Beetle Dune of 2014 is the “Volkswagen Sideways” app – a program that proactively integrates “Points of Interest” (POI) in the navigation system. For example, the touchscreen not only displays whether there are restaurants nearby and which ones, but also whether your friends are there. Upon request, the navigation system can guide the driver and the Dune right to it. The Sideways app also integrates information such as the weather in the POI instructions – the driver would not be guided to an outdoor swimming pool in winter weather, for example. The instrument cluster is designed with classic analog instruments: tachometer (left), speedometer (middle) and fuel gauge (right). However, the scaling is not white as in the production car, rather it is in “Arizona” color. The same applies to the scaling of the auxiliary instruments above the center console with charge pressure indicator, chronometer and engine oil temperature.
The seat system of the concept car is as sophisticated as it is sporty in its design. The outer surfaces of the front sport seats and the two rear seats are upholstered in natural leather in “Titan Black.” The upholstery of the middle surfaces, on the other hand, is made of a very breathing-active material (“Gobi”) in the light color “Ceramique.” The leather and fabric areas and the front and rear sides of the head restraints have powerful decorative stitching on their borders – naturally in “Arizona” color.
In its engine technology, the Dune crosses over to the production model, as mentioned. And that is good, because this Beetle is more agile than ever before. Consider the engine: the 210 PS turbocharged gasoline engine – combined with a 6-speed DSG transmission – accelerates the Beetle Dune to 60 mph in just 7.3 seconds (100 km/h: 7.5 seconds). If necessary, a top speed of 141 mph or 227 km/h is feasible – in America this would be a speed for the race track, in Germany a speed for open sections of the Autobahn that have no speed limit. More impressive and important, however, is the awesome way in which the Volkswagen transfers its power to the road. Here, the front-wheel drive car exploits the benefits of such features as its high-class suspension layout (precise wheel location by the front MacPherson suspension and innovative four-link rear suspension). In all of the more powerful Beetle cars with turbo gasoline engines – and therefore also in the Dune – the electronic XDS differential lock is standard.
What is certain is that if the Beetle Dune meets with approval by NAIAS visitors and the international media, it could appear soon in cities like Detroit, San Francisco, Boston, Berlin, London, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Sydney or Cape Town. A car outside of the mainstream that makes people happy when they see it. Sounds like a car with a cult following, and it is.