2010 Audi Q5

Weekends: The Romantic Route in Germany

Imagine spending decades and a king’s ransom to build your dream castle, but never having the opportunity to set foot in the completed structure and call it home. Such was the fate of King Ludwig II of Bavaria.

“We will now ascend the steps to the King’s master suite,” our guide declared as we toured Neuschwanstein, one of 50 million visitors to the castle since 1876. Designed as a personal retreat inspired by the operatic works of composer Richard Wagner, it is incredible to think such a work of genius was originally destined for the pleasure of only one person.

The 2010 Audi Q5 represents state-of-the-art design in a vehicle meant to be shared with up to four people. The small SUV market is hot at the moment, and the Q5 is an excellent example of why. Stylish lines, exquisite trim and excellent outward visibility are all reasons to place it on the “A” list.

Power comes in the form of a 3.2L FSI V6 engine. Maximum power output is rated as 270 hp at 6,500 rpm. Torque is similarly inspiring; 243 lb.-ft at 3,000 rpm.

Rack and pinion steering with hydraulic assist maximizes the superb drive characteristics of the Audi Q5. Independent 5-link front and trapezoidal-link rear suspension flattens out bumpy roads with ease.

Romantische Strasse (Romantic Route)

Audi’s renowned quattro-drive matched with a 6-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission is more than just icing on the cake. It is the basis of what makes the Q5 such a pleasure to drive. Top speed in Canada is limited at 209 km/h, with 0-100 km/h achieved in 7.2 seconds.

To best embrace the nuances of castle life, there could be no better setting than a tour of Germany’s famed Romantische Strasse (Romantic Route). A winding highway through much of the countries storied past, our trip began with an overnight stay at Wald & Schlosshotel Friedrichsruhe.

Friedrichsruhe was originally built as a hunting lodge for the Hohenlohe family. The castle first opened as a hotel in 1953, with recent renovations including the opening of a 18,000 sqm Spa. Wald & Schlosshotel offers 66 elegant rooms and suites, including 27 new Spa rooms plus a 5-star dining experience.

The meandering secondary roadways of Germany allowed for a passionate drive in the 2010 Audi Q5. Surrounded by lush countryside and palaces at every turn, we continued our journey back through time with a three hour route east from Friedrichsruhe to Wernberg Castle.

The first mention of this resplendent fortress on the hill takes place in the year 1280. Eight hundred years later, Hotel Burg Wernberg is now a member of prestigious Relais & Chateaux.

Surrounded by what was once a water-filled moat, a causeway welcomes guests through the original wooden gates of the castle. Inside, 6 single rooms, 18 doubles and 5 suites occupy the current building. Chef Thomas Kellermann and sommelier Frank Hildebrand oversee fine dining in The Kastell Restaurant. Casual fare is served at Konrads and the Castle Lounge. Strolling through the center square of the castle under the stars at night offered a glimpse into what old-world living must have been like.

Stretching the legs of the Audi Q5 once more, we succumbed to the call of the Autobahn and cranked up the speedometer north of 220 km/h. Our southward trek past Regensburg and Munich, Germany eventually stopped at Alpenhof Murnau, a member of the esteemed Small Luxury Hotels of the World.

Established in 1967, the chalet-style luxury retreat features 54 rooms and 17 suites, indoor and outdoor pools, Kelo-Saunavillage, a fitness room and multiple dining options. Hoffman’s Restaurant served the morning buffet breakfast, a staple in Europe; the Michelin-starred Reiterzimmer restaurant hosted our fine dining experience.

Castle Neuschwanstein

With so much to see and do in the area, this was the perfect base for our exploration of what many believe to be the inspiration for Disneyland; Castle Neuschwanstein.

“A man’s home is his castle” or so the saying goes. That being the case, there is no better way to arrive then from behind the wheel of the 2010 Audi Q5.

2010 Audi Q5
As Tested: $47,450
Configuration: front engine, All-wheel drive
Engine/Transmission: 3.2L FSI V6 /6-spd Tiptronic automatic
Power/Torque: 270 hp/243 lb-ft
Observed fuel economy: 10.5 L/100 km, (1,200 km)
Competitors: Acura RDX, BMW X3, Cadillac SRX, Infiniti EX35, Lexus RX 350

Related links:

Audi Canada
Das Wald & Schlosshotel Friedrichsruhe
Hotel Burg Wernberg
Alpenhof Murnau

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