The actual vehicle won’t debut until the dawn of the 2014 Detroit auto show, but this teaser sketch gives us a pretty good look at the new Volkswagen Beetle Dune concept car. And no, it doesn’t run on water or accept voice commands issued in Fremen – in this case, the Dune suffix refers to the concept car’s off-road aspirations.
If that sounds familiar, it’s because Volkswagen used this very same recipe fourteen years ago. The original Beetle Dune concept, which debuted at the 2000 Los Angeles auto show, was allegedly inspired by the high-riding, off-road Baja Bugs of the ‘70s, though Volkswagen’s concept appeared more in keeping with its off-road passenger cars, like the Audi A6 Allroad.
The same can be said for the new 2014 Beetle Dune concept. Built from a regular production 2014 Volkswagen Beetle hatchback, the Dune sees its body lifted two inches in order to increase ground clearance and make room for an enlarged wheel/ tire package. The front fascia is based off the Beetle R-Line’s front clip, but boasts a faux skid plate integrated into the lower radiator opening, which in turn flows into dark accents that carry into both the fender flares and rocker sills as they wrap around the car. A roof rack and a pair of skis were added to allegedly emphasize the car’s “go-anywhere intentions” – and before you ask about the viability of skiing on sand, downhill dune skiing is apparently a thing.
Compared to the original 2000 Beetle Dune concept, Volkswagen says the new concept is “a lot more feasible,” pointing to the original show car’s translucent plastic roof panels and aluminum-clad cargo area as “not very realistic” for production consideration. If nothing else, the new Beetle Dune concept is more production-ready in terms of its mechanical components. The 2000 concept was powered by a 2.3-liter V-5 engine, which was in turn mated with a six-speed manual transmission and an altered form of Volkswagen’s 4Motion all-wheel drive system. The new Beetle Dune, however, is virtually identical to a stock Beetle R-Line, down to the 210-horsepower, turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder and six-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox. The show car even retains the 2014 Beetle R-Line’s front-wheel drive arrangement, relying upon its XDS limited-slip differential for added traction instead of all-wheel drive. Even the chassis is more simplistic and in line with existing production Beetles. This new Beetle Dune concept does without the old car’s complicated adjustable air suspension, relying instead on the 2014 Volkswagen Beetle’s stock MacPherson front struts and multilink rear suspension arrangements.
The new Volkswagen Beetle Dune may not be quite as exotic as its predecessor, but it is far more grounded in reality than the original show car – and as a result, it potentially has a chance at reaching volume production down the road. Volkswagen says no decision has been made, but notes the show car does help illustrate a “potential. Rest assured corporate brass will be monitoring both press and public reaction once the finished concept debuts at the 2014 Detroit auto show on Monday.