CR: VW Press Cars Don't Match What's On The Dealership Floor

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer

TTAC has long held that reviews of press cars made available by manufacturers at launches and press fleets must be complemented by reviews of vehicles acquired from dealer lots. It’s been a controversial position at times, and I’ve had to do battle with OEMs as recently as a few months ago to explain why dealer car impressions matter. Today, Consumer Reports is proving the point by revealing

When VW dropped off an early media car this summer, I remember looking at the trunk and saying to myself “well, at least both of the cheap hinges are dressed up with plastic covers, unlike the Jetta, which just has plastic on the side with the wiring.” As you can see in these two photos from Car & Driver and Edmunds it appears that the Passats in VW’s press fleet have covers on the hinges.

But not that Passat you just bought. No, your new Passat isn’t as nicely finished as the press version.

Like all the vehicles we put through testing, Consumer Reports buys retail samples at a car dealership. I personally purchased the Passat TDI we’re testing. (We also bought a 2.5 SE and a 3.6 SEL Premium.) As you can see in our images, none of the Passats have the two plastic covers found on the press cars. Consumers apparently only get a cover for the wiring loom hinge; the other one goes bare.

Interestingly, we had a somewhat similar issue with VW when a Passat press car proved to be equipped in a spec that is not actually available at dealerships (V6 with 17-inch wheels). When we noticed the discrepancy (and by we, I mean Michael Karesh, of course), we asked VW how we had received a non-representative model, to which they replied that press fleet vehicles were “early builds” from the new Nashville plant, and therefore not necessarily in market-ready spec. Which is a reason, but not an excuse: the media can only serve consumers well if we’re given representative cars to review. So, while these discrepancies are all relatively minor, details matter when you’re spending upwards of $20k on something. Hopefully VW and the rest of the industry will learn from this experience and make greater efforts to equip their media cars exactly to dealer spec. One also hopes that Motor Trend has driven at least one Passat that’s not from a press fleet

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  • A Caving Ape A Caving Ape on Nov 24, 2011

    Meanwhile, my ten year old MKIV Jetta had beautiful gas-sprung double hinges that didn't crush my luggage. Cover or no, the current hinges are eerily reminiscent of those from my 96 taurus. Touches like that are exactly why I used to love VWs.

  • Svenmeier Svenmeier on Nov 25, 2011

    I am Swiss (European) and I don't understand this complaint: “well, at least both of the cheap hinges are dressed up with plastic covers” What's the big issue here? THIS IS A NON-ESSENTIAL ASPECT OF THE CAR. It doesn't affect the way the car drives or handles and it doesn't affect the fuel economy either. If anything it is an aesthetic issue but I personally just do not see the big deal. Most buyers here in Europe wouldn't make an elephant out of this fly of an issue. How often do people open their trunks and get "offended" by the lack of plastic covers on cheap hinges that so hurt their eyes? I drive a European Jetta TDI and I am not bothered by this at all. Even in the '70s and '80s when I drove my French company cars all across Europe did I never once care or make an issue about the lack of plastic/cloth coverings on the body-colored-metal inside the cabin. It wasn't an issue then. I can understand how people today are more demanding, but the lack of plastic coverings on a hinge in a trunk of a modern car shouldn't be an issue now. How often will one even look or notice this aspect when one opens the trunk? Seriously, WHO CARES?

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