It’s the little things, I tell you. What could an inconsequential little bench at the Frankfurt airport possibly have to say about the nation itself? A lot, actually, if you’re willing to look closely. The comfortable one I was seated on had a nice swooping wooden form to relax your back, replete with polish standing up to rigorous usage. The wood and metal elements fit together like Siamese twins. Perfectly bolted down, nothing squeaked, nothing rattled. They could’ve compromised here with something so trivial. They could’ve decided to make do with something less, but didn’t.
This steadfast, almost obsessive dedication to quality and utter pride in their work is what makes German engineering such a force. And you can see it in every product — right from Sennheiser headphones to a Carl Zeiss lens. And as I made my way up a set of twisty mountain roads in the Catalunyan countryside a few days later, I could feel this very force shine through whilst at the helm of the new 2011 Volkswagen Passat.
Close your eyes and think of modern-day, well-built German sedans and what the various electrical pulses firing inside your medulla oblongata conjure up is a rough shape not unlike this Passat here — the size, the proportions, the stance...they all match up. In its seventh-generation form, it looks better than ever.