The lone relatively “modern” car in my ragtag fleet is my wife’s primary car, a 2010 Volkswagen Tiguan that has proven to be a handsome and comfortable way to turn gasoline into occasional motion and an extremely effective way to be sure my bank account isn’t burdened by too much excess money. Lots of things have gone wrong with that needy thing, but my wife likes it because it really is a comfortable, pleasant car to drive around. The tech is a bit dated on the inside, but it mostly works and the overall interior design and layout is airy and quite good. The dash is made with materials that feel good to actually touch, and seems thoughtful and well-considered. There’s really only one thing on that dash that actually baffles me: some little slots, set in plastic. What are they? Are they a vent? A sensor? Do they do anything? I’ve since learned what they’re for but I’m very conflicted about what I’ve learned. Are these stupid or not?
Here’s another closer look at these things, in case you’d like to, you know, really scrutinize them:
They’re just two little narrow slots, inset in a plastic housing, set into the dash. They’re not a vent, they don’t have any sort of sensor behind them, no speakers or anything like that. They don’t actually do anything, at least not actively. But they do have a purpose, something that I think all of us can envy. If we refer to the Tiguan Owners Manual, Psalm Upper Center Console, Fig. 6, the purpose is revealed:
A “card holder!” VW seemed to think these were important enough that there’s another bank of these on the lower center console, just above the shifter:
So, card holders. Of two orientations, it looks like, with the upper ones seemingly designed to hold a standard credit card-sized card short-side-first, and the lower ones holding the cards with the long side inserted. Okay. But, um, why?
What are these for, exactly? Are they for credit cards? Are there people who don’t want to carry a wallet and prefer to have a 3,800-pound self-propelled wallet? I guess if you’re going through a drive through it’s a handy place to stick your debit car while you creep towards the window to get your bags of piping-hot chowder or whatever?
Oh, maybe if you have a key card that opens a parking lot gate? That could be handy! You could keep it in there and never lose it, and I guess that’s somehow better than the four or so other easily-reachable little cubbyholes on the dash?
VW gives you four of these, and in some looking around online, it looks like if that’s not enough for you, you can replace the useless airbag warning lamp with another pair of card holders:
So, in theory a really card-blessed Tiguan (or other VW Group owner – these were on other VW/Audis, too, like Passats) could have up to six slots for key cards or credit cards or gift cards or business cards or thin, resilient crackers or whatever little narrow somethings you want to cram in there.
I’m conflicted about these because while I can mostly picture a context where one of these might be useful, I’m just not sure I can imagine anyone actually using these things. Do people use them? When I started wondering about this, I saw I wasn’t the first to raise these difficult questions, as it comes up on VW/Audi forums.
[Editor’s Note: I could see their most clutch use being at a toll booth. You know, the ones where you have to take a ticket, and then when you get 15 miles down the road you have to frantically search for that ticket while 25 cars are waiting behind you looking for an excuse to use their horns. -DT].
The results are pretty mixed; lots of confused people, some people who have lost coins in them, and, yes, some people who use and love them.
I’ve not personally witnessed anyone actually ever using these things out in my real-world interactions with VW/Audi owners/operators, but oh, I’d love to. Somewhere out there must exist a debonaire Golf GTI owner who has every one of these little slits populated with a parking card, a Diner’s Club card, a cut-down semi-nude Polarioid of a recent lover, a gym membership card, a joke “License to Kill” and a mini-CD that was stuck in there, irremovable, from a previous owner.
So, let’s discuss: are these a good idea? Or are they just a half-assed way to eat up dash space, only a half-step better than a blank panel? I can’t decide. Help.