Consumer Reports has made allegations against Volkswagen that the company provided press vehicles that were built to a higher standard than versions sold to consumers.
Stories of “ringer” press vehicles are legend in the automotive world – most recently, Ferrari was accused of providing press cars that performed far better than customer cars. Now, the venerable consumer mag, which has made a name for itself by purchasing its own vehicles for road tests, has published photos and descriptions of a few key differences between the 2012 Passat they purchased, and the versions provided by Volkswagen by their press fleet.
The accusations hinge (no pun intended) on two plastic covers for the trunk hinge mechanism (pictured above). A VW press car had the covers installed to hide the bare metal hinges and wiring loom used on the Passat, but the customer cars purchased by CR didn’t have those. As CR’s Jon Linkov notes, if VW was willing to go the extra mile for a set of hinges, other crucial areas, like sound deadening, suspension tuning or engine performance could have been altered as well. Consumer Reports said that they’ve experienced these things before, and that it raises larger issues of impropriety.