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Will the 2017 Volkswagen Beetle Boost Sales?

Beetle 1Mention “Volkswagen,” and most people will automatically think “Beetle.” After all, the Volkswagen Beetle was the world’s best-selling car for over two decades, and various iterations of the Beetle have topped 23 million in sales. Practically anywhere you go, you can find one, el Escarabajo “Scarab” in South America, la Coccinelle “Ladybug” in France, even Mwendo wa Kobe “Tortoise Speed” in Africa. In Mexico, the last 2004 Volkswagen Beetle “Última Edición” looks practically unchanged from the first production models of 1954.

Still, it’s no secret that Volkswagen Beetle sales have been on the decline in the United States, 22% down in 2015 and over 30% down in 2016. Can a new model generate a recovery for the classic moniker? It could happen, especially with Baby Boomers and their kids coming of age, and the release of a new special edition with a late-60s/early-70s beach and Baja vibe.

2017 Volkswagen Beetle Dune Convertible

Beetle 2Last year, the 2016 Volkswagen Beetle Dune Coupe differentiated itself from the standard Beetle as an “athletic” dune buggy, those you probably won’t want to enroll in the Baja 1000 without serious modifications. This year, the 2017 Volkswagen Beetle Dune Convertible adds top-down driving experience to the mix.

The Dune Convertible, like the Coupe, features a gaping front air intake, sporty black wheel arch extensions, alloy wheels that are anything but boring, and a not-so-discreet rear spoiler. The body is about a half-inch wider and sits about a half-inch higher. Under the hood, the same 1.8-liter provides motivation to the tune of 170 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque. It can make the 60-mph sprint in just 7.4 seconds. At the same time, the Dune is exceptionally economical to drive, reviewers noting even better fuel economy than EPA estimates, over 25 mpg city and 36 mpg highway fuel economy.

Compared to others in the “affordable coupe / convertible” bracket, the Dune is moderately fun, though reviewers suggest that it should have been made available with a manual transmission. The automatic transmission does improve things a little, but it’s not quite the same experience. Because it isn’t in the “luxury” bracket, though, it isn’t packed with as much noise-damping insulation, so road noise is a bit higher.

Where the 2017 Volkswagen Beetle Dune Convertible really shines is design, a pleasant mix of retro styling and modern aesthetics – one might venture to say “futuristic,” though that’s been proven wrong more times than can be counted. Inside and outside, the Dune’s design is refreshingly simple and easy on the eyes. The dash is uncluttered, your eyes instead drawn toward sporty accents like the metallic trim and yellow contrast-stitching in the shifter and steering wheel.

The Iconic Volkswagen Beetle

As much as Volkswagen puts out other models, such as the Tiguan, Passat, Golf, and others, the Beetle is as iconic as it gets, defining perhaps an entire generation of automobiles. The Volkswagen Beetle was even judged to be the most influential car of the 20th Century. Today, nearly two decades into the 21st Century, the iconic Beetle, redefining and defining, will it continue to identify the brand?

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