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054season detroit photo



2 April 2009

Miles: 4035-5892

We usually fly to the North American International Auto Show in Detroit every January. Actually, we normally fly from the East Coast to our corporate headquarters in Chicago then make the five-hour trek from Illinois to Motown, but it just didn’t seem to add up this time around. The hours invested are a wash anyway, as Detroit is an eight hour run from our office on the ‘right’ coast, so why incur the added cost of airline tickets when the bottom of the economy seems to be rapidly dropping out? In as much, we waived off the idea of cramming into a flying Petri dish and instead figured we’d take the land route in our 4 Season S5 – with plenty of torque, an Audi Music Interface with full iPod connectivity and newly fitted Dunlop Winter Sport 3D snow tires, why wouldn’t we?

It sounded like a solid plan until we checked the weather forecast days ahead of the trip. A major band of snow was coming in from the west and plenty of precipitation was expected the entire way. So much for that eight-hour drive, and so much for time saved. Nevertheless, we packed up the Audi and hit the westbound Pennsylvania Turnpike with a whole lot of hope in our hearts.

In Pennsylvania, conditions were clear. Blasting through the long mountain tunnels of the PA Turnpike and up the winding runs to the Laurel Highlands that can get dicey in bad conditions, we met no precipitation and made quick time. But nearing the last exit or two in Pennsylvania, the white stuff started to fall, and it fell fast.

We were barely past one of Ohio’s grand new guest centers before snow was accumulating on the road. It seemed as if other travelers had planned for this and had gotten a head start since the roads were fairly empty.

With the new Dunlop winter tires, the S5 trudged on unphased. The long straights that comprise most of the Ohio portion of the drive aren’t terribly technical with a welcomed lack of left lane lurkers blocking a pass or truckers choosing an inopportune time to move left unannounced. We maintained speed at about 70-75 mph with little difficulty and no concern over traction. The S5 seemed as sure footed as it would be in completely dry conditions save the eerie silence of fast running on a pillow of fluffy icelets.

By the westerly portions of the Oh-state, we decided to pull in for break at one of the older and smaller rest stops. We’d seen very few plows on the road and, now about six-inches deep, the virgin accumulation in the parking lot of the rest stop was just too attractive to avoid acting like children.

If we had concern of getting high-centered in the deep parking lot fluff, those fears evaporated rapidly. The S5 plowed through confidently, even showed off as we guiltily gave in to a momentary drift session in the untouched portions of the lot. But we’ve had enough experience with Ohio’s state troopers to know when enough is enough, and quickly made a beeline for the on-ramp.

Back on the road, the snow never stopped. By the time we turned northward toward Toledo and beared down on the Michigan border, we’d seen two different wrecks where cars had their rubber quite far from the pavement and pointing toward the sky. Still, we never really broke our initial Pennsylvania pace all that much As the S5 just carried on with confidence.

Eventually construction had the highway down to one lane and we were forced to crawl for a time behind slower traffic. Even still, when short passing zones were available, the S5 had no problem clawing its way to a faster pace in order to get around the pokier cars ahead.

By Detroit, night had come and the roads were empty. Off the highway, with the navigation searching for our hotel near the Detroit airport, it seemed as if the local roads had never been plowed at all. Motown’s lack of budgets may have stopped the plows, but the car continued to push through. By this time, hints of blacktop were long gone but moving and stopping were still very controlled. The S5’s B8 chassis was poised and the power delivery rear-biased enough, while the added traction of the Dunlop Winter Sports all combined for an easy drifting as a point of control.

Such conditions might normally have had teeth clenched. This night they were instead glinting in the light of oncoming cars as we smiled from ear-to-ear.

Driving Notes:
The Dunlop Winter Sport 3D is Dunlop’s latest and greatest snow tire offering. These were designed as a “performance snow tire” which combines winter traction with also good dry weather performance. Given the easier lesser accumulations that we get in the Mid-Atlantic region compared to the Northeast, this tire should fit the bill perfectly. Coupled with quattro all-wheel drive, the S5 is unstoppable – the snow stands no chance. On the top of a parking garage after a snowfall, the S5 plowed through two-foot high snow banks with ease. Road manners on dry pavement are also excellent, as the tires produce virtually no noise and good cornering stability and grip. – Anthony Garbis, Contributing Editor

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