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First Drive: 2012 Volkswagen Tiguan


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.

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