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LA show: VW Beetle climbs new Dune

Dune bug: The styling of the production Beetle Dune has remained faithful to the 2014 Detroit show concept that previewed it.

VW Beetle Dune crossover on show at LA, but not on the cards for Australia

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Volkswagen logo18 Nov 2015

By TIM NICHOLSON

VOLKSWAGEN'S Beetle Dune concept has become a production reality, with the crossover version of its iconic two-door making its debut at the Los Angeles motor show this week.

The German car-maker lifted the lid on the concept at the Detroit show in January 2014, and the exterior styling of the production version has remained mostly faithful to the show car.

Unlike the concept, the production-ready model will be offered in various markets as both a Coupe and Cabriolet.

Fans of the high-riding look and chunky style should put their wallets away, however, as the Beetle Dune is a non-starter Down Under.

Volkswagen Group Australia general manager of communications Karl Gehling told GoAuto that the quirky model does not fit with the company's product strategy.

“We currently don’t have any plans for Beetle Dune in Australia,” he said. “It is a very distinctive and exciting variant of the Beetle, but we believe it doesn’t have a place in the context of our strategy to rationalise our product range in Australia.”

VW says the Dune is reminiscent of the Baja California dune buggies from the late 1960s, and it carries off-road styling flourishes including dark wheel arches and side strips, silver mirror caps and more silver accents under the side strips.

At the front, the silver theme continues around the large lower air intake that features a honeycomb screen, while the Dune decals run along the lower side of the car and rides on 18-inch wheels.

The Dune sits 10mm higher than the regular Beetle, but remains a front-wheel drive proposition.

At the rear, there is a large rear spoiler in gloss black on the top and body colour on the underside, a silver diffuser in the redesigned rear bumper and new LED tail-lights.

Nine body colours are available, including Sandstorm Yellow Metallic and Dark Bronze Metallic, and the Coupe can be ordered with a black roof.

Buyers who prefer the wind-in-your-hair experience get a black fabric roof as standard with the Cabriolet.

Inside, the Dune gains a body-coloured dash panel, contrast stitching on the sports seats, a leather-trimmed steering wheel and black finish for the roof pillars, headlining, door trim panels and seats.

It also gets the latest generation VW infotainment system and, depending on the variant, is offered with DAB+ digital radio or a second Bluetooth phone interface, voice control and navigation. An optional Fender sound system with 400 watts of output power, a 10-channel amplifier as well as tweeters, woofers and sub-woofers is also on offer.

The European-spec car is offered with three turbo-petrol engines, ranging in output from 77kW to 162kW and a pair of turbo-diesel, including an 81kW and a 110kW version.

In Australia, the Beetle is offered in one Coupe specification level for $31,390 – there is no Cabriolet available here – and it is powered by a 118kW/240Nm 1.4-litre turbo-petrol engine matched with either a six-speed manual or a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.

The Beetle is one of the slowest sellers in Volkswagen's Aussie line-up, with just 196 units sold to the end of October this year, which represents a 55 per cent drop on the same period in 2014.

After arriving in February 2013, the latest iteration went on to find 799 homes by the end of that year, before dropping to 476 for the 2014 calendar year.

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