Beach lovers: the Volkswagen Beetle Dune makes the prospect of building a sandcastle feel completely futile. Why? Because this sand surfer is far more fun – more fun even than one of those cheeky seaside postcards. This concept car – that has been making waves at the North American Auto Show in Detroit – has rugged, off road, styling that elevates it beyond its siblings. As such, it sits higher from the ground and sports distinctive nineteen-inch alloy wheels that help it charge through sand. These characteristics complement the front and rear cladding and the two-part wheel arch extensions that increase its length and width. Furthermore, the front arches are connected by a brushed aluminium sill panel which sits below the large, black, honeycomb air intake that helps this plaything suck in the sea air. The bonnet is also more muscular than the production version and the rear of the vehicle houses a large spoiler. The exterior package is completed by the ski-rack and vibrant yellow/orange metallic paint that help it stand out like an inappropriately dressed sunbather. The interior, in contrast, is reasonably standard but there is a grab handle rather than a glove box. This enables the passenger to hold tight while charging over dunes (and screaming).
The Volkswagen Beetle Dune Concept is powered by a 2.0-litre, 210PS, turbocharged petrol engine pinched from one of its siblings. This unit – that produces 206 lb ft of torque between 1,700 and 5,200rpm - sends its power through six-speed DSG transmission. This enables the beach lover to either cruise in full auto mode or flick between the cogs manually without a foot operated clutch. Whereas there are no performance statistics for this concept car the engine propels the production trim to 62mph in 7.5 seconds. That is very fast for the class. Unfortunately, however, power is only sent to the front wheels whereas four-wheel-drive would make conquering dunes easier. This reflects the fact that the production range is designed for the road only. The Beetle Dune Concept is the successor to a similar proposition that hit the beach in the new millennium. However, that was never likely to enter production. The new version, in contrast, is more closely based on the production model so – if it proves popular – could soon be ploughing through sand dunes all over the planet. Watch out for sandcastles, ey.