2012 VW Tiguan: Beat The Crap Out It, I Dare You

May 30, 2011
Volkswagen built their reputation in North America on cars and trucks that were simple, robust, fun, practical and had a strong whiff of German engineering and design. They were clearly not Japanese cars -- far more solid and heavy-feeling. And compared to their other European counterparts, they stood apart. They were not Italian rust buckets. Definitely not quirky French cars that only a recovering lobotomy patient could grasp. They certainly weren't British contraptions, assembled using low-quality spittle, children's glue and pre-rusted scrap metal. Nope, VW was affordable German engineering.

I recall my friends who had Jettas, Golfs and GTIs. They really liked them, despite irregular electrics. It didn't lower their enthusiam for these fine-handling, spirited cars. A high-school friend had a Jetta and I would beg him for a ride home all the time. He drove it hard, shifted it like he meant it, and whistled around corners. Way more fun than his previous '78 Monte Carlo, although that beast was a blast if you felt like going sideways down a street. That kind of anarchy never happened in the Jetta. It handled too well.

And then, somewhere along the way, VW lost its way and made boring, shabby cars. The robustness disappeared, the electrics failed too often. Power windows wouldn't roll down, or worse, they stayed down. In the rain. The GTI and Jetta GLX were not lovable apart from their awesome VR6 engines and decent brakes.

However, that has all changed in the last decade. VW now has products that are solid with world-class engineering. Tiguan, Golf and GTI to name three. Sure, the brand-new Jetta took a step backward in the name of affordability, but it is selling well and is a bargain. I won't comment on the new Passat despite being less German and more American, but it has great advertising (just ask Little Lord Vader).

However, apart from the excellent Golf and GTI, it is the Tiguan that I think is the most German in the VW lineup. It hasn't kowtowed to American tastes by bloating up like the Passat or Jetta. It's got a smallish trunk not meant for Costco. It's not inexpensive either. But after having driven it at a VW driver's event on a short but fun handling course, I was very impressed. The turbo four is just as sweet as in a Golf. Smooth automatic superb handling and braking. So the question we are left with is how does VW pitch this very German car to North Americans? By pounding on old VW qualities like robustness.

A friend sent me the link to this VW ad that quietly slipped under the radar. I think it's almost as good as the Lord Vader ad. And it really reinforces the VW of old - solid, takes a beating and keeps on going. In short, a pinata at party gets a royal beating from what must a be a child with anger issues, too much sugar from the birthday cake, or possibly the parents have forgotten to give him his Ritalin. At any rate, the pounding the pinata Tiguan takes is great. You only see the VW emblem right at the end. Then dad decides he is going to take a whack at it. It's a simple, clever ad with thypical VW humor that makes you want to watch it again. I think it's much better than the gratuitous product placement in Rescue Me, which you can also see below. 

Let me know if you liked the VW pinata ad as much as I did.




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