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by Tim Beissmann

The Volkswagen Beetle Dune concept previews the German car maker’s vision for a mild crossover based on the latest version of its iconic small car and inspired by beach buggies of the past.

The tougher-looking, harder-wearing Beetle Dune concept is believed to be a strong chance to make the transition from show car to showrooms, with Volkswagen to gauge public reaction at its Detroit auto show debut this week.

The sun-kissed Volkswagen Beetle Dune concept is almost identical to the sketches released on Friday, retaining all of the car’s sporty, off-road attitude.

It boasts a 50mm-higher ride height and a 29mm-wider track than the regular hatch, as well as metal scuff plates and plastic guards protecting the lower body panels.

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Horseshoe-shaped LED daytime running lights occupy intakes in a redesigned front bumper, while a new bonnet features a subtle bulge and longitudinal vents.

Black and silver 19-inch alloy wheels fill the flared guards, and the rear features uniquely styled LED tail-lights, high-mounted tailgate ‘roof-rack’ designed to carry skis and other active lifestyle gear, two-tone black and yellow spoiler, and dual exhaust outlets.

The front-wheel-drive Volkswagen Beetle Dune concept teams the turbocharged 155kW/280Nm 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine from the Golf GTI Mk6 with a six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, and features multi-link rear suspension and the brand’s ‘XDS’ electronic differential lock.

Away from the sand, the Dunce concept claims a 7.5-second 0-100km/h and a 227km/h top speed.

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Inside, the yellow paintwork extends to the dashboard and doorsills, as well as highlights on the steering wheel, floor mats, doors and seat piping. The conventional glovebox also makes way for a horizontal grab handle.

A 7.7-inch high-resolution touchscreen dominates the dash, while three analogue meters sit prominently at the top of the centre stack. Sports seats are upholstered with black and white leather.

Though it’s unconfirmed for production at this stage, Volkswagen says the 2014 Beetle Dune concept is “a lot more feasible” to build than the original New Beetle Dune concept that debuted in Los Angeles in 2000, and will be considered seriously following its Detroit debut.

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