Weekends: Nissan 350Z Roadster vs Audi A4 Cabriolet

It isn’t everyday you have the chance to drive one amazing convertible through the backroads of a state as beautiful as Pennsylvania. But two convertibles over the course of a week! How special was this trip going to be? Such were the thoughts running through my mind as the realization of what lay ahead took hold.

The Audi A4 Cabriolet and Nissan 350Z Roadster are vastly different automobiles attempting to achieve similar goals. Open air driving is their specialty, but how each one handles the driver/passenger experience is truly unique.

The A4 Cabriolet seats up to four comfortably with room to spare. Cabin dimensions are superb, the 3-spoke steering wheel and driver controls topnotch while both fit and finish are industry leading. If there is one surprising drawback, it is only the restricted amount of trunk space once the roof is opened.

The Nissan Z Roadster chooses to limit seating capacity to no more than two. It is perfect for those times when you and your significant other want to get away from it all. Taking a minimalist approach to interior design, the “Z” graces occupants with black on black trim and a downward flowing center stack as a way to focus your attention on the road ahead and less on what’s going on inside.

Nissan 350Z Roadster

Both offer strong performance, excellent road manners and fun-to-drive qualities by the bucket load.

Under the hood of the 2007 Audi A4 Cabriolet 3.2 quattro resides a DOHC V6 engine that delivers 255 horsepower at 6,500 rpm and 243 lb-ft @ 3,250 rpm. Designed for long distance driving at mid to high speeds, it has plenty of get up and go when required.

The Nissan 2007 350Z Roadster straps you in with 306 horsepower at 6,850 rpm and 268 lb-ft of torque @ 4,800 rpm on tap. A jackrabbit by comparison, it proved tempting to lay back and cruise for awhile, only to accelerate past the A4 Cabriolet on a whim.

Our drive through Pennsylvania started on a sunny day in Philadelphia. Over four days we would explore the finer points of many two-lane highways, eventually ending our trip in Pittsburgh.

If you have never been to this part of the U.S.A., you are indeed missing something very special. Not only should Pennsylvania be explored for its historical significance, but the tree lined side roads and rolling landscape are well suited to getting away from it all.

Audi A4 Cabriolet

The city of brotherly love is the birthplace of the United States of America. Must see places for us included the Liberty Bell Center, Independence Hall and the Old City District. Given my propensity for all things sporty, we made sure to stop by and visit the statue of Rocky Balboa at the base of the steps leading to the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Leaving the city, we struck out on a zigzag 800 km trek across the inner part of Pennsylvania. Interstate Hwy#76 intersected with Hwy# 476 as we took a westerly tack and eventually connected with Hwy# 1 on the way to Exton, PA. Stops along the way included Chanticleer Gardens and Historic Waynesborough, plus a brief stop at Va La Vineyards in Avondale before stopping at The Inn at Chester Springs.

The next day we followed Hwy# 30 before eventually turning south towards Strasburg on the way to Lancaster, PA. This part of Pennsylvania is of course famous as a place where horse-drawn carriages share the road with modern day automobiles.

Harley-Davidson Motor Company

At one point on our drive through Amish country, we came across a stretch of highway that was so intriguing we felt the need to explore it more than once, even though the asphalt was slick with rain. Of course driving at speed behind the wheel of an Audi A4 Cabriolet and Nissan 350Z Roadster made the experience that much more compelling.

A short sidetrack to York, PA gave us a chance to visit a place famous for manufacturing Harley-Davidson motorcycles and barbells, before heading to Hershey, PA for the night. A city built on chocolate could never be a bad thing and The Hotel Hershey capitalizes by providing an atmosphere and stay experience that is simply decadent.

Waking early, our last leg of the drive followed Interstate #76 through Bedford County and then south toward Mount Davis. Eventually the day ended in Farmington, PA for an exclusive evening at the Nemacolin Woodlands Resort.

Originally built as a private game reserve for William F. Rockwell, much of the land has been transformed into a 3,000 acre world-class resort. With two unique hotels situated on the property, including the immaculate Falling Rock Hotel, an on-site Off-Road Driving Academy featuring Hummer H2’s, there was no lack of fun things to do before flying out from Pittsburgh the next morning.

A road trip from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh is a truly all-American experience. Where else can you experience the birthplace of a nation, watch the production of an American icon and eat chocolate to your heart’s content all while driving some of the finest roads in the United States. The independent spirit has a birthplace and they call it Pennsylvania.

Related links:

Hotel Sofitel Philadelphia
The Hotel Hershey
Nemacolin Woodlands Resort

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