The Baja Bug, a traditional Volkswagen Beetle modified for off-road use, got its start in Southern California car culture. It only makes sense, then, that Volkswagen would choose theto unveil its spiritual successor, the 2016 Beetle Dune.
Unlike the Baja Bugs of old, the Dune is a street car in off-roaders' clothing. Yes, the ground clearance has been raised by 0.4 inches, and the track is 0.6 inches wider, but the Beetle Dune remains a front-wheel-drive passenger car. That said, Volkswagen worked within the Beetle's means to create a very cool throwback.
The Dune's exterior is heavily modified from a standard Beetle. New front and rear fasciae feature aluminum skid plates and matte-black details, and the side sports polished aluminum sills. Unique 18-inch alloy wheels wrapped in all-season tires complete the aesthetic upgrades.
Inside, Volkswagen upgraded the standard Beetle's innards with sportier seats featuring contrasting stitching, as well as a leather-wrapped steering wheel. If you opt for the Dune's yellow paint scheme, your door trim and dashboard will come painted in the same shade. White and black Dunes will make do with door and dash trim in black.
Standard tech on the Dune includes VW's new MIB II Composition Color touchscreen infotainment system, USB ports, a backup camera and -- a first for any Beetle -- LED taillights and parking sensors. The 6.3-inch infotainment system utilizes swipe and pinch gestures and comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone connectivity right out of the box.
There are two optional packages available for the Beetle Dune. The Lighting Package adds bi-xenon headlights with LED running lights and license-plate lighting. The Technology Package bestows its owner with dual-zone automatic climate control, a Fender-branded audio system, keyless access and a sunroof.
The drivetrain remains the same as every other gas-powered Beetle. It's toting a 1.8-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder engine putting out 170 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. Both a six-speed manual and a six-speed automatic will be available.
The 2016 Volkswagen Beetle Dune will be available in both coupe and convertible variants. The coupe goes on sale in the first quarter of 2016, with the convertible hitting the market in the third quarter. Volkswagen declined to mention pricing information or market availability outside the US.