• Volkswagen to build unusual Beetle Dune Concept
  • Production model will focus on off-road capability, like old Baja Bug
  • VW says the Beetle Dune will reach dealers in 2016

The Volkswagen Beetle Dune Concept has been confirmed for production. So says Volkswagen, which recently announced that it plans to build the unusual Beetle. The car was first shown in concept form earlier this year at the Detroit Auto Show, and it featured a wider track and improved ground clearance for better off-road capability.

Yes, you read that right: a Volkswagen Beetle with a focus on off-road capability. The automaker says that the production Beetle Dune will follow up on the famous Baja Bug, which was created by Beetle owners in the 1960s when they modified the small car for use on beaches, sand dunes and other off-road applications.

Unfortunately, we don't expect the production-ready Beetle Dune to offer as much off-road prowess as the Baja Bug. The Baja Bug included a modified front and rear end, skid plates, and even a steel cage to protect the driver and passenger, whereas the Beetle Dune's off-road modifications are likely limited solely to its raised ground clearance and all-terrain tires. We're sort of hoping for all-wheel drive, too.

Volkswagen hasn't announced any other details about the Beetle Dune except to say that we'll see it in showrooms in 2016. That likely means that the production-ready model will be shown in final form at an upcoming auto show later this year or in early 2015. For those who just can't wait, we suspect that it will be highly similar to the concept car shown in Detroit, which added plastic cladding, higher ground clearance, all-terrain tires, and a wider track to the standard Beetle.

Beyond its expressive styling and off-road features, the Beetle Dune Concept boasted a few other features that we hope will reach production. They include several interior grab handles for serious off-roading and a neat system that allows drivers to carry skis on the outside of the Beetle's rear lift gate. We'd also appreciate the concept car's 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine, which sends 210 horsepower to the front wheels through VW's quick-shifting, direct-shift-gearbox dual-clutch automatic transmission.

Keep checking back for more updates on the Beetle Dune Concept; we'll have further details when Volkswagen announces them.

What it means to you: The Volkswagen Beetle Dune Concept is a fun modern take on the old-school Baja Bug, though it won't offer the same level of off-road capabilities.

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Doug DeMuro has a wide range of automotive industry experience, from work at a Ferrari dealership to a manager for Porsche North America. A lifelong car enthusiast, Doug's eclectic vehicle purchases include a Porsche 911 Turbo, an E63 AMG wagon, an old Range Rover and a Mercedes Benz G-wagen.

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