REVIEW: 2016 Volkswagen Beetle Dune – Iconic, Sporty, and Fun

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If you had to pick a car that instantly makes people smile, then the Volkswagen Beetle would be at the top of your list. There’s no denying that it’s a cute car, which you will quickly realize when you see people smiling at you and giving you the thumbs up everywhere you go.

Its cuteness gets an edgy upgrade as the Beetle Dune, which is an homage to the Baja Bugs of the 1960s. Don’t get any ideas, though, because this car is still very much intended for the road with a strong performance and great handling.

What is it?

The Volkswagen Beetle made its triumphant return to the market back in 1997 as the New Beetle but has since lost the New moniker. It’s just the Beetle unless you’re talking about one of the special editions like the Dune.

This turbocharged compact car combines the fun of owning a Beetle with the edginess of aggressive cosmetic upgrades that attract even more attention than the average Bug. If you’re planning on keeping a low profile, then this is not your car.

Pricing and trims

The Beetle Dune is available as either a coupe or convertible and includes exclusive design elements not found on other Beetles. Pricing starts at $23,995 and includes a raised suspension, contrast stitching throughout the interior, leatherette and cloth seats, and Dune-exclusive bumpers, air intakes, large rear spoiler, and black exterior accents.

Looking for a new or used car? Check out BestRide’s listing search here.


Our test model was the coupe in Sandstorm Metallic, which is one of only three color choices in the Dune. It’s a love it or hate it color that goes along with the “look at me” vibe of the Dune. You can also opt for Pure White or Black. Total price with $820 destination charge was $25,065.


Standard safety features in the Beetle Dune include multiple airbags, anti-lock brakes, electronic stability control, intelligent crash response system, LATCH child seat anchors, and tire pressure monitoring system. There is also a rearview camera and park distance control both front and rear.


The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the 2016 Volkswagen Beetle its top score of Good in all crash tests except for Small Overlap Front where it earned only a Marginal rating. There is no crash avoidance and mitigation technology available on the Beetle so no rating was given in that category.

2016 Volkswagen Beetle IIHS Crash Test Ratings


The 2016 Volkswagen Beetle Dune features a 1.8-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine with 170 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque. That wouldn’t be impressive in a large car, but the Beetle is small and all that turbocharged power gives the car a strong performance.


The Beetle Dune looks like it should be fun to drive and it delivers on that first impression. It accelerates quickly and smoothly from a stop and has plenty of power for passing. Press the accelerator and the Beetle Dune happily rewards you with exactly the power you need to zip around slower vehicles and navigate heavy traffic. It does so smoothly and quietly, with just enough engine noise to let you know it’s working without becoming intrusive or annoying to passengers.


Your only choice is a 6-speed automatic transmission. It’s a good one with smooth shifts that make the most of the engine’s power. You won’t hear it revving too high, nor will you find it down-shifting at the wrong moment.

Ride and handling

The Beetle Dune is fun. What did you expect? This isn’t an uptight performance car. It’s a sporty, little thing that makes long commutes more bearable.


It handles nicely with tight, responsive steering and has a smooth ride. Only the roughest of roads will prove an inconvenience to passenger comfort.


This is a small car so don’t be expecting a spacious sedan. Still, front seats slide far back so taller passengers have enough leg room. That big bubble of a roof makes it feel more open and ensures those same tall passengers have plenty of headroom. Seating is comfortable and supportive with large bolsters that are still pliant enough to be comfortable for everyday driving.


Looking for a new or used car? Check out BestRide’s listing search here.

Headroom of 39.4 cubic inches and legroom of 41.3 cubic inches put it in line with other cars in the segment. The Nissan Juke comes in at 39.6 cubic inches of headroom and a roomier 42.1 inches of legroom while the MINI Cooper offers more headroom at 40.3 cubic inches with 41.4 cubic inches of legroom.


The rear seat is where things get tight. Yes, you can fit a pair of adults back there and even wedge in a couple of kids in car seats, but it’s not for the faint-hearted. The back seat has 37.1 cubic inches of headroom beating the Cooper’s 36.9 and the Juke’s 36.7. Legroom of 31.4 cubic inches beats the Cooper’s 30.8 but falls short of the Juke’s 32.1.


This compact hatchback isn’t focused on hauling cargo. There’s enough room for your groceries, a small stroller, or a large suitcase, but you won’t be packing for a family getaway in the Beetle Dune.

It has 15.4 cubic feet of cargo space with the rear seats up, but those seats split-fold 50/50 for 29.9 cubic feet total. That’s more than the 26.6 offered by the Nissan Juke but less than the 34.0 offered by the MINI Cooper.


Infotainment and controls

The Beetle Dune has a 6.3-inch touchscreen with AM/FM/HD radio and CD player with an 8-speaker sound system. There’s also a single USB charging port and an AUX jack. Sirius XM is available while Bluetooth smartphone connectivity and VW Car-Net, which displays apps from your compatible smartphone right on the touchscreen, are standard features.

The touchscreen is responsive and clear, though a bit small at only 6.3 inches. It’s also not full color, which makes it feel dated. Using the system is easy with intuitive menus that clearly guide you to the right selection.



The 2016 Beetle Dune delivers the experience Beetle owners crave. It looks great, is fun to drive with its responsive turbocharged engine, and generates smiles everywhere you go.

It’s a fantastic vehicle for those seeking a compact car with a bit of performance and an appealing, sporty appearance package.


Those who plan to regularly have people in the rear seats will find it a tight squeeze and should consider other compact options.

2016 Volkswagen Beetle Dune

Base price: $23,995

Price as tested, $25,065 including $820 destination charge:


  • Rugged Styling
  • Sporty Drive
  • Comfortable Front Seats


  • Limited Safety Features
  • Dated Infotainment
  • Tight Rear Seat