I feel self-conscious about driving an Audi because I do it so rarely. Here’s a German-engineered sedan, an affordable machine with all-wheel drive meant to cruise European straightaways, and I drive it exactly three times a week to jiu-jitsu. Boston and its surrounding cities (Brookline, Cambridge, Somerville) discourage car ownership, to the point of ticketing cars for parking on public streets during a “snow emergency” when not a single flake fell. I’m fortunate enough to live and work within 5 minutes of subway stations. So a car that wants nothing more than to vault me across the country at 85 MPH sits in the parking lot behind my building, gathering sun-flecks and dreaming of the Nürburgring.
But I still pay the price: on Wednesday, I drove to the nearest dealer for some mandatory (and free) service. An unexpected bonus to owning a nicer car is that the dealership service areas tend to be nicer, too. The Audi service lobby had muted lighting, soft carpeting and a paint scheme that did not assault the eye. The tables were stacked with copies of Cigar Aficionado, Wine Spectator and Frilly Rugs That You’d Beat Your Child If He Spilled Fanta On It Quarterly. The staff put a higher premium on customer service than any dealer I’ve ever been to. They asked politely for documents and spoke in clear tones.
On Saturday I got to give the Audi what she wanted. I took I-93 north for two hours, passing out of Massachusetts, through Concord, NH and into the White Mountains. The last half hour in particular is gorgeous country. You see mountains rolling like an unmade bed. If you could scoop Boston up by the edges, like a napkin, and lay it across the hills, you could see the entire city at once: that’s how panoramic your vista is. Traffic was light and the weather was cool and open. The Audi handled perfectly, accelerating with a quiet hum and whipping around every curve in the hillside. I didn’t drop below 75 unless I wanted to.