At the Los Angeles Auto Show this week, Volkswagen is introducing two new Beetle variants that should help nudge this classic nameplate back into consideration.
First, the 2016 Volkswagen Beetle Dune, which will arrive in Coupe form in the first quarter of 2016 and in Convertible form by next fall, includes all of the iconic shape and design cues of the Beetle, but raises it slightly and gives it a somewhat bulkier, more outdoorsy look.
Inspiration comes from the classic Baja Bugs, as well as the Beetle Dune Concept, from the 2014 Detroit Auto Show (and the Volkswagen Dune Concept from the 2000 Los Angeles show).
The new version has been raised 0.4 inches, with a track that’s 0.6 inches wider than other Beetle models. Yet here’s where the package reveals a bit more about its intent: The Beetle Dune is only a front-wheel-drive model, and you won’t find VW’s 4Motion all-wheel drive as an option.
Tougher look, but still front-wheel drive
It looks tougher, though. The look of the Beetle Dune is a little more rugged and aggressive, with black wheel arch extensions that flow into the bumpers, plus new front and rear fascias with a larger air intake, black honeycomb screen, and front skidplate. In back there’s a large spoiler, LED headlamps, and a matte-black and aluminum-trimmed bumper design, with a rear diffuser that doubles as a skidplate. Alongside there are polished aluminum sills and black trim strips that aim to look like running boards, while 18-inch Canyon alloy wheels are fitted with all-season tires.
The Beetle Dune gets sport seats with contrasting orange stitching, plus a leather-wrapped steering wheel. Sandstroem Yellow, Pure White, and Deep Black Pearl are the exterior hues available, while the interior isn’t much different otherwise than that of the standard Beetle models.
Infotainment in the Beetle Dune includes the latest MIB II infotainment, with a tablet-like 6.3-inch capacitive touch screen that has proximity sensing and basic gesture controls like pinch-zooming and swiping. USB and Bluetooth compatibility are included, as is compatibility with various apps and a wide range of smartphones—through Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and MirrorLink systems.
The system includes a rearview camera and Park DIstance Control—with the latter feature a first for the Beetle. A Lighting Package also adds bi-xenon headlamps and LED daytime running lamps to the Beetle’s equipment. And there’s a Technology Package with dual-zone automatic climate control, Fender premium audio, keyless access, push-button start, and a sunroof.
2016 Volkswagen Beetle Denim
Forever in blue jeans
Volkswagen has also announced that it’ll put the Beetle Convertible Denim Concept—one that was shown earlier this year at the New York show, and a tribute to the Jeans Bug of the mid-1970s—into production.
The 2016 Beetle Denim will be a special short-run model, slated to arrive at dealerships in early 2016; only 2,000 will be made. Production will be split equally between two colors—Pure White or Stonewashed Blue.
From the top to the interior, it’s all jeans-influenced. The convertible top is dark blue with a new textured fabric that has a denim look, while the dash pad is done in a light-blue-and-silver hue, with jeans-pocket-inspired seat pockets using small red Beetle tabs. A Heritage wheel design reaches back to the ‘70s, too. The upholstery itself is a light blue denim, with white piping and dark-blue ‘leatherette’ accents.
All Beetle Denim models will be qeuipped with the 170-horsepower, 1.8-liter turbocharged TSI gasoline engine and six-speed automatic transmission, with front-wheel drive. VW has said that it will be “a value model in the Convertible lineup,” which considering the features will likely land this model around the $30k mark.
Check back to our full review of the 2016 Volkswagen Beetle for pricing and more details on these models as they’re announced.___________________________________________