A convertible for all seasons – the 2018 VW Beetle Dune

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Back in 2016, when we last reviewed the VW Beetle, did not expect to see the iconic VW Beetle coupe or convertible survive into the 2018 model year.  Whether it was the need to have viable gasoline powered product to offer in the face of the diesel engine debacle or other – they are still with us in 2018 and continue to offer a reliable ownership experience for subcompact coupe or convertible buyers.

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For 2018, the Beetle has more to offer. VW has replaced the 1.8L turbo with a more powerful 2.0L EA888 engine, added a special Coast model and upgraded lighting, technology and other features standard or as part of available packages. In addition, VW extended their new six-year / 72,000-mile limited warranty to include the 2018 Beetle.

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2018 VW Beetle Dune convertible

We just recently spent a week with a 2018 VW Beetle Dune convertible and made a 600-mile roundtrip from Austin to Galveston Island and back under unexpected conditions that reaffirmed our confidence that the VW Beetle convertible is (as we discovered) a subcompact for ‘all seasons’.

The Beetle Convertible shares the same iconic silhouette and bold stance of its sibling, the Beetle Coupe. At 71.2 inches wide; 58.0 inches tall; and 168.4 inches long, its wide tracks and long wheelbase give it not only sporty proportions, but a subtle stability which we really appreciated on that journey.

The Beetle Dune Convertible has a raised ride height of 0.4 inches and a 0.6-inch wider body that give it an aggressive stance physically while visually, the Dune offers bold front and rear fascias and black wheelarch extensions that flow into the bumpers.

The side of the Dune accents the bold visual presence with its contrast between the polished aluminum-look sills and black trim strips; side mirrors with contrasting black lower portions and Reflex Silver uppers, and “Dune” graphics displayed on both doors.

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Rain, sleet, snow and cold oh my

Living in South Central Texas and making frequent trips to the Texas Gulf Coast, one does not often (if at all) experience rain, sleet, snow, ice and extreme cold in making that drive.  This week, we got them all on one trip and – despite initial concerns that the Beetle convertible was not going to be our best choice for the trip – we found it handled all of the challenges easily and safely with confidence for us.

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Usually, we make little mention of how well heaters and defrosters, wipers and washers, headlights and fog lights work in trying conditions because we generally do not experience them in a test drive.  On this trip – through 1.5-inches of sleet and snow and 23-degree wind chill temps, the Dune scored well in all those areas.

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Adding in the turbocharged power plant, responsive transmission, capable suspension, firm braking and vehicle stability elements, we became very comfortable on the road even when running next to 80-foot tractor-trailer truck combos along the interstate.

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The cabin was remarkably warm, quiet and comfortable – given it was a convertible – enabling us to thoroughly enjoy a full-range of satellite radio offerings through the standard Fender Premium audio system with subwoofer.

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Four Trim Levels for 2018

The front-wheel drive 2018 VW Beetle Convertible comes in four trim levels – with MSRP starting at $25,440.

All are powered by the enhanced and most powerful ever EA888 engine ever – the 2.0L turbocharged direct-injection TSI engine.  For 2018 it produces 174 horsepower with 184 lb.-ft. of torque. Mated to the VW Tiptronic six-speed automatic transmission with Sport Mode shift, it delivers fuel economy up to 34 mpg highway and 29 mpg combined city/highway.

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S – The entry level 2018 Beetle convertible ‘S’ ($25,440) includes the signature fast (9.5-second open or close) power convertible soft-top roof with boot cover and insulated rear window, rear spoiler, heated Power-adjustable folding side mirrors, halogen headlights and 16-inch all season tires.  Inside are found leather wrapped multi-function steering wheel, manually adjustable leatherette-appointed seating, heated front seats and cruise control.  Infotainment includes and 8-speaker sound system, 5-inch composition color touchscreen with Bluetooth connectivity, AM/FM Radio, CD player and USB/AUX inputs.  Also included are a rearview camera, tire-pressure monitoring system and Automatic Post Collision Braking with the Intelligent Crash Response System.

An available Style and Comfort Package ($955) upgrades the S with a 6.3-inch touchscreen, SiriusXM, AppConnect, Voice Control, keyless access and pushbutton start, automatic headlights, rain-sensing wipers and 17-inch aluminum-alloy wheels.

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Coast – (MSRP $26,840) is a new trim level added for 2018. Based on the S trim, it features a unique Deep Teal exterior color option, surfboard wood-look dash, ‘Pepita’ hounds tooth cloth seating surfaces, Monster Mats, scuff plates, and Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Traffic Alert.  An available ‘Coast Lighting Package’ ($895) adds Bi-Xenon headlights, LED Daytime Running Lights, and LED taillights.

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SE – (MSRP $28,040) adds dual-zone automatic climate control and offers a SE Premium Package ($2,500) which upgrades wheels to 18-inch aluminum alloy and adds front and rear Park Distance Control (ParkPilot), 6.3-inch Discover Media Touchscreen with Navigation System, Fender Premium Audio, Bi-Xenon Headlights, fog lights and LED Daytime Running Lights, taillights and license plate lights.

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Dune – (MSRP $32,090) is the top-of-the-line model in the lineup and comes complete with all of the features and amenities of the other models in the lineup. Styling elements and features unique to the Dune included: Sandstorm Yellow Metallic paint with Black Roof exterior and accents ($250), Canyon 18-inch aluminum alloy wheels and all-season tires, and Dune Gray and Black with Yellow Piping interior.

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For the record, our drive test 2018 VW Beetle Dune convertible priced – including its special Sandstorm Yellow Metallic paint and delivery – at $33,190.

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New ‘People First’ Warranty

For 2018, most VW models will now be covered by a new Bumper to Bumper Transferable Limited Warranty known as the People First Warranty.  First offered on the new 2018 Atlas and Tiquan, it is now offered on additional models including the Beetle and Beetle convertible.

The People First Warranty covers the powertrain including engines, transmissions and the optional 4Motion all-wheel drive systems for six years from date of purchase or up to 72,000 miles.  It is fully transferrable to subsequent owners for the remaining period available from the original date of purchase.

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Beetle beyond 2018

As we noted, rumors have been in the air for near a couple of years now that the iconic Beetle will be discontinued – now said to be – at the end of 2018.  Summarizing the on-line chatter, it appears that the coupe is probably going for good with, maybe, the convertible staying on past 2018 at least until final next generation decisions are made.

Rumors include discussion of how a new VW focus on electric vehicles (after the disastrous and very costly debacle with their diesels) may well include bringing a new generation Beetle to market as an all-electric vehicle on their new MEB platform.

VW is still sorting all of that out, so we may not know for a while if the Beetle is gone for good – or only for a while.  In the meantime, you can still get a VW Beetle coupe or a convertible in 2018.  They are in dealerships now.  Learn more about the Beetle coupe here:  http://www.vw.com/models/beetle/   and the Beetle convertible here:  https://www.vw.com/models/beetle-convertible/

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Tailpipes and Tacos is back Memorial Day weekend! It’s been a while but the popular Tailpipes and Tacos cruise-in returns to the Lupe Tortilla Tex-Mex in Katy…Saturday, May 25th! Bring your hot rod, Classic or Modern Classic to compete for one of the famous Chili Pepper trophies AND get a FREE breakfast taco! Just make a donation of any size to God’s Garage and Lupe’s will match it. You’ll be helping single mothers who need a set of wheels.

It has been a year in the making so you won’t want to miss Tailpipes and Tacos, Saturday, May 25th 8 to 11 AM. Cruise-in, donate what you want to God’s Garage and grab a free Lupe Tortilla breakfast taco. Tailpipes and Tacos ony happens at the Lupe Tortilla Tex-Mex in Katy at 703 West Grand Parkway at Kingsland Blvd…just south of the Katy Freeway.

It’s car show season and what better way to kick it off than a free taco and comradery at Tailpipes and Tacos, Memorial Day weekend, Saturday, May 25, 2024, 8 to 11 AM. 

The In Wheel Time Car Talk Show will be there too.

Proceeds benefit God’s Garage