Chuck Taylors are far from the best choice for hiking shoes. Especially a worn-out pair with more miles on them than many cars built in the previous decade. This thought is stuck to the top of my skull like a passenger inside an elevator in freefall as I am quickly transferred from a state of vertical to horizontal. I'm in the Austrian woods to drive the revamped 2012 Volkswagen Tiguan
, but more important, I'm accelerating towards wet, spongy ground that is too much for me and my Chucks. I shouldn't have gotten out of the SUV, because it doesn't seem to be having any problems.
The Wild Cherry Red VOLKSWAGEN TIGUAN
looks like a waxed metallic forest fire set amongst the mossy trees in what will be an off-limits section of a ski resort in another few months. For our press drive, the VW guys gave us a route that included several miles of dirt and gravel roads, but my co-driver and I decided we needed photography in a real off-road setting. A long, overgrown access road presented itself along the route and we couldn't pass it up.
The ground here is a combination of peat and bugs. It feels like ground-up Super Balls, and has no visual indication of just how solid it is. I find out firsthand while trying to get back down a 25-foot hill overlooking the parked VOLKSWAGEN TIGUAN
with my right hand filled with five pounds of dirt-hating camera. With every step my foot sinks three inches into the luxurious alpine sludge before coming to a semi-solid stop. This time, however, as I lift my left foot the ground gives way under my right. I slide heel first, and serene alpine cliffs and valleys normally echoing with yodels and cowbells are now filled with the sound of snapping twigs and a single prolonged and profane exclamation in English.