When Volkswagen introduced the current North American market, US-built Passat in 2011, it was a move seen as either heresy or necessity, depending on which side of the VW enthusiast fence you sat on. After all, if the company wasn’t going to trade on its “Continental manufacturing for the mainstream” appeal, what was the point? At least, that was the counterargument to VW’s claim that a midsize sedan designed specifically for the North American market would finally allow them to compete on price, size and content with competitors from Asia and the US. Despite being three model years in, we haven’t yet covered the “NMS” Passat on these pages. No time like the present…
Such a feelin’s comin’ over me
There is wonder in most everything I see
Not a cloud in the sky, got the sun in my eyes
And I won’t be surprised if it’s a dream
It’s 9:45 a.m., local time. I’m standing at one of what must be a hundred overlooks in Wildcat Canyon Park, looking down on, well, everything. If you’ve never been to the Bay area (as I had not until this point), there’s no way for me to describe to you the view before me—one that photography has no hope of doing justice. There’s so much going on, yet it’s all encapsulated in a way. One could easily convince a child that the entire world exists within the geography visible from this vantage point. That goes a long way toward explaining the mindset of the average resident, I think.
VW’s first major foray into the US’s highly competitive (and highly important) small SUV marketplace was with the Tiguan back in 2008. The SE model pictured here is now six model years old, but largely unchanged. Has the Tiguan blossomed for the brand, or been left to wither on the vine?
Every once in a great while, one comes across a writer with a truly unique voice. Cherise LaPine Grueninger is one of those writers. Unfortunately, she and I spent the first few years of our acquaintance sparring over various issues related to auto enthusiasm in general and the VW hobby in particular. I’m pleased to state that we have now resolved these issues, almost entirely through a rather craven capitulation on my part, and that as a result Cherise will now be contributing to S:S:L on a recurring basis. Please make her welcome in this, her first column, as she details her love affair with a second-generation VW Golf — jb
Story by Cherise LaPine Grueninger
I come from VWvortex, where “speed” and “sport” fall by the wayside in pursuit of “life,” and maintaining the illusion of such.
As a contributor to said site, I was dazzled by the privileges granted to the motoring media. Press cars are fabulous and I’ve driven my share, through generosity, negotiation and subterfuge. A long-termer is even better—it’s always there when it’s needed, insurance is covered by the manufacturer, and just when it’s worn out its welcome, it’s spirited away and something new comes along as a replacement. It’s no wonder that some autojournos allow the reflected glory of a freebie-laden lifestyle to plump their vanity more than a little bit.
I’m vain as well, though not beyond my means—I’ve been a slave to second-generation Jettas and Golfs for ten years, always interested in the relationship that develops between a car and its owner, a relationship that’s impossible when cars are whisked in and out so frequently they’re nearly indistinguishable. So for the past few years, I wrote most of VWvortex’s features, a wholly unglamorous role that afforded me the luxury and pleasure of exploring these dynamics in depth. And thus, I consider myself proficient at the “life” component of our shared affliction of car love—that is, owning a particular car. The type of ownership that requires maintenance and insurance. True ownership is an emotional investment as much as a financial one; a fleeting sense of pride is its sought-after payoff.