While the VW Bug is hardly the first car a guy aspires to drive on his everyday commute, Volkswagen is up to something strangely appealing with its limited-edition Dune. For the first time in a long while, the brand has given us a Beetle that stands out and actually harkens back to the romanticism of the model’s golden years: the mid-1960s, when tricked-out Bugs rally-raced down Mexico’s Baja peninsula.
There’s no denying the Beetle has grown into a cultural icon since its 1949 U.S. introduction. In the past 67 years, Volkswagen has sold 5.6 million of the cars in the United States, including more than 128,000 of the current third-generation model. But is the Beetle a manly steed? Not so much.
Of course, it was never intended to compete against more serious performers like the Ford Mustang or the BMW 3 Series. Even with the Beetle’s 1997 reintroduction in the States after an 18-year hiatus, it’s really the car’s nostalgic appeal that has driven its fan base.
The 2016 Dune is designed to build on that appeal, with a bolder spin on the Beetle legacy that’s intended to give the car more street cred. It’s the latest in a line of specialty models, spruced up with features including special “Dune” graphics, polished aluminum sills and a huge rear spoiler.
The new decked-out Bug also features a slightly increased ride height and a half-inch-wider body, giving the car a more rugged stance that evokes the true spirit of the Beetles that raced across the desert in the historic inaugural Mexican 1000 race back in 1967. And we have to admit, this modern Beetle looks decidedly masculine.
Although the Dune doesn’t offer a boosted engine or an improved suspension system—two features that made those 1960s Baja Bugs so iconic—it does have style. Truth be told, the new 170-horsepower high-tech Dune will probably exceed the expectations of most drivers who have never been behind the wheel of a modern-day Beetle. And with a starting price of roughly $24,000, the Dune is a steal for those looking for a two-door coupe or convertible with a flash of personality.