The Transporter

 

I slept for less than 5 hours on my eleven-hour flight from San Francisco. From Frankfurt, I still had about three-hour drive to Nuremberg. It could be more if there were traffic on A3 autobahn. I had known prior to my leaving San Francisco that I would need a car that could rejuvenate me from the weariness of air travel.

After a swift process of getting the car key from Europcar (europcar.com) rental car company, I walked through the long underground corridor under the massive Frankfurt airport to reach the Europcar parking garage section. There, my black “Transporter-TV-Series” car was shinning under the fluorescent light. I put my laptop bag and my 18” roller in the spacious trunk.

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Then, I climbed into the nicely sculpted 14-way adjustable leather seat. As soon as I pressed the start button, not only the engine and the instrument panels came to life but also my senses awoke. The slightly ascending middle console that hosts the HVAC and MMI controls gave the feeling that I was piloting a modern jetliner. Even before I started driving, this Audi A8 had already made me forget about my long and tiring flight.

It didn’t take long before I noticed the 425 lb-ft of torque under the hood. The sense of acceleration was accentuated by the sonorous sound of 240 hp V6 TDI. This A8 TDI engine was surprisingly quiet during idle and leisurely drive. But when I opened up the throttle, the sporty turbo diesel engine deep growl gave me the tingling sensation.

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The sky was dark gray and it was drizzling and occasionally storming. A3 autobahn was very wet. Thanks to quattro system, I could comfortably drive with confidence at a nice pace in this challenging condition. Additionally, the advancement of steering and suspension geometries and the use of lightweight materials made this car feel lighter, smaller, and very agile to me despite its true size and weight.

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When there was a slow down in traffic, I used the opportunity engage the adaptive cruise control and the active lane assist features. The adaptive cruise control uses a radar technology to maintain the safe distance with the car in front by varying the speed of the car. This adaptive cruise control worked very well even in the stop and go traffic condition. The lane assist made sure that I stayed in the lane. This car automatically corrected the steering wheel when I meandered towards the other lane and I did not have my turning signal on. Once I got comfortable with these two advanced features, I connected my iPhone to Audi MMI system via Bluetooth and made calls to my co-workers to plan for tomorrow.

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I arrived sooner that I anticipated in Nuremberg. My business meeting didn’t start till the next day. Feeling rejuvenated, I decided to drive around Nuremberg first and then I would head to the hotel.

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Using the touch pad of the MMI system, I entered Weißgerbergasse for my first stop. It is one of the treasured old-town cobblestone streets in Nuremberg. Medieval half-timbered houses feature colorful exposed wooden beams and white walls. In the past, animal skin tanners occupied this neighborhood and they produced light color leathers. Today, restaurants, bars, and shops entertain locals and visitors in the evenings.

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Next, I drove around the ancient walled town. An outer wall, a moat, and another defensive brick wall guarded by 46 fortified towers surrounded the original 11th century town. Four out five original gates into the city are still standing today. Königstor (King’s gate) greets most visitors arriving by trains, as it is located across from Nuremberg main train station.

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Turning into the ancient town, I headed towards 1000 AD Nuremberg Castle. The candle-lit Knights Hall of this castle will transport anyone visiting this castle back in time to a medieval banquet. Walking around the castle ground one can view the hive of activity below.

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I arrived at Hauptmarkt. Despite its size, A8 was really easy to maneuver around the ancient town’s nooks and crannies. While the suspension exhibited a very athletic performance on high speed cornering, elevation change, and switchback on the autobahn and remote B-roads, it isolated the vibration from the maze of one-way cobblestone streets.

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My hotel, Sorat Hotel Saxx is located in one of the corner of the famous Nürnberg Christkindlesmarkt. Fairs and festivals are held throughout the year in this large square in the hearth of the city. In addition to finding fresh produces and flowers at the farmers’ market, one can easily find Nuremberg traditional delicacies such as Lebkuchen and Nuremberg-style Bratwurst.

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A major attraction at this square is Schöner Brunnen, located at the northeast corner of the square. This gold colored fountain is shaped like a gothic steeple top, rising 19-meter high. Forty stone figures from the 14th century represent the worldview of the Holy Roman Empire. Strolling around this square is a great way to soak Nuremberg.

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Surprisingly, I parked this A8 easily in the tight underground hotel garage. After dropping my luggage in the room, I took a stroll in the ancient town to soak the ambiance. I was looking forward to meet my co-workers tomorrow. I would be their Transporter. I would be driving three of our European team members and our tradeshow materials and packages for the next three days. And I had the perfect car for this job!