The Wall, Gravity Cavity, Rebel’s Revenge, The Launch, Dragon Overlook, Brake or Bust Bend, Little Whip, and Pearly Gates are just some of the affectionate corner names of the legendary Tail of the Dragon driving road joining the US states of Tennessee and North Carolina.
More than 300 corners in 17km make the Nürburgring Nordschleife look like a parking lot. Last year we crossed it off the bucket list, behind the wheel of a Volkswagen Passat…
No seriously, it wasn’t that bad. The new Passat is built in America, right there in Tennessee in fact, and it feels decidedly American too: it’s big, cheap, comfortable and not very exciting to look at.
But it’s much more than that too, because when we savoured the car in Dubai in September, and then again last October in our five-way shootout with the new Nissan Altima, Chevrolet Malibu, Peugeot 508 and Chrysler 200, the big Volkswagen was creamy — it rose to the top.
Now we meet for the fourth time, as the Passat arrives in the wheels fleet and makes itself at home for the next three months. Volkswagen Middle East tossed us the keys to a fully loaded model retailing at Dh118,500, but it doesn’t matter what equipment list you go for, they all get the outdated 2.5-litre five-cylinder putting 170bhp down to the front wheels.
That droning, moaning engine didn’t seem to bother us that much since we awarded the new Passat a wheels Car of the Year 2012 honour as the best mid-size saloon. For the next few months perhaps we won’t be lifting the inside-rear off the ground through Brake or Bust Bend, but we’ll certainly let you know what life’s like in the new Volkswagen Passat.
UPDATE: Ferrari California
Be in no doubt, we’re not going to let our Ferrari California drive away into the sunset without a fitting send off. Our long-termer was required back at Ferrari HQ for a series of VIP customer test drives — you know, for the kind of people who actually pay money to buy cars like these? We begrudgingly agreed but made it abundantly clear that we would need our California back next week. Until then.