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New Volkswagen Beetle Dune Review

Striking looks, but don’t take it out in the sand

This score is awarded by our team of expert reviewers after extensive testing of the car
  • Nostalgia-inspiring looks
  • Modern engines
  • Well-built
  • Cramped rear seats
  • A bit dated inside
  • Options are overpriced

£22,210 - £26,610 Price range

4 Seats

51 - 62 MPG


The regular Volkswagen Beetle is a car that majors on retro appeal and this special version turns the nostalgia up to eleven. It’s called the Beetle Dune and takes its inspiration from the ‘Baja Bugs’ (stripped out old Beetles with big wheels) that were specifically built for crossing sand.

This new model is, depending on your viewpoint, all about style though – so gets 18-inch alloy wheels, swollen black wheel arches and rugged bumpers. Suspension raised by 10mm is the only nod to making your Dune desert ready, but we wouldn’t advise giving it a go.

City streets are where it belongs and we can imagine it catching the eye of the fashionista it’s aimed at – the kind of people who buy the Mini, Fiat 500 or DS 3 – particularly if it is finished in the car’s launch shades of Sandstorm Yellow or Dark Bronze.

Inside, there is less to differentiate the Dune from regular Beetles, however you do get contrasting stitching on the standard sport seats and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. There’s plenty of space up front and the boot is a decent size whether you go for the hatchback or the convertible.

Buyers are limited to a choice of two engines – a frugal diesel or a lively 1.2-litre three-cylinder petrol. The diesel is best paired with the £1,600 optional DSG automatic gearbox – it’s very quick to shift and ideal if you’ll be driving a lot in town.

Standard equipment includes a Bluetooth infotainment system with a 6.5-inch touchscreen display, air-conditioning and all-round parking sensors. Cruise control, which seems to be fitted to almost everything these days, is a £240 option, though; as are electric folding door mirrors (£115 ) and mud flaps (£81).

There’s no denying the Dune has some retro appeal, but so do the VW Scirocco and Golf GTI – two cars that are far more attractive everyday propositions.