Day 5 – 10/19/2011

Nanjing – Shanghai

Shanghai, the destination for the fourth stage. One of the world’s glittering metropolises, boomtown and economic center, but also a party city and temple of luxury. It takes effort to make the right impression here – like Audi with the Tour Terminal. The white sculpture, both stopover and starting point for the tour, stands directly on the Bund at the Huangpu River opposite the amazing Pudong skyline. Truly impressive imagery – modern design in front of a picture postcard scene. The new drivers joining the Audi Q3 Trans China Tour are greeted at this distinctive location, and we bid farewell to the first wave.

Pictures day 5

China is an unbelievable time machine. The journey through a couple of centuries is compressed here to just a couple of hours. On this particular day, the participants in the Audi Q3 Trans China Tour are beamed back from the comforts of the 21st century to places that, in their simplicity, seem part of the 18th century. The time travel works in the other direction, too – a few kilometers further and the modern day returns with its glass facades and Gucci shop windows.

That is China. It has many faces. The drivers on the Audi Q3 Trans China Tour have already experienced some of them during the first four stages. Noise and silence, frenetic bustle and fixed traditions, development and decline. But nothing irritates some visitors from the West more than the huge gap between modern and old, between rich and poor.

Yet this is completely normal for a land that, during the Cultural Revolution in the second half of the 20th century, catapulted itself almost back into the Stone Age. But, at the start of the 21st century, is emerging as a leading global power at virtually the speed of light. Or rather, is reclaiming its historically rightful place in the world, as the people here see it.

Today’s stage is 435 kilometers long. It starts at the luxurious Zhongshan Golf Resort in Nanjing and leads initially along highway before heading onto narrow, winding, dusty country roads, past tiny villages where a family’s own hens and small rice paddy are still the main source of income and sustenance. One hour later, however, we reach the very outskirts of the metro Shanghai area. It is at this point that we return to the 21st century, to the illuminated high-rises and cool bars, and finally once more to traffic congestion – progress on fast-forward.

Video day 5

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For the Audi Q3 this is certainly the perfect stage – one that gives it the chance to display all its strengths. The new SUV with the four rings is compact and nimble for restricted city spaces, agile and commanding in the battle for the best space at the traffic lights, but also robust and comfortable for the poor roads through the villages. It offers plenty of space for long journeys, is versatile and solid. It seems on this tour as if the Q3 were built specifically for China’s roads. In which case, we should expect big things from it – especially here. The SUV segment is booming in China. An increasing number of women and young buyers are interested in it – and the Audi Q3 will also be produced in China starting in 2012. It is surely capable of following in the footsteps of its big brother, the Audi Q5, which leads its market segment in China by a big margin.

Lunch today is served in the Deyi Lou Hot Pot Restaurant in Suzhou. Each guest receives a hot pot recessed into the table in front of him. In this variant of fondue, which has been around for at least 1,000 years, the pot is filled with a boiling meat or fish stock that is richly flavorful and generally very spicy. Meat, fish, soy, all kinds of vegetables, mushrooms – almost everything can be cooked in this and it tastes wonderful.

Arrival in Shanghai, the city of trade, of wealth and of progress. The Audi Tour Terminal gleams in the sun, awaiting the drivers and vehicles on the Bund, the city’s prestigious main boulevard. The Audi Q3 Trans China Tour is now 2,078 kilometers old and it is already time to say goodbye to the first group of participants.

Emanuele Pirro, five-time winner of the legendary Le Mans endurance race, has enjoyed the trip, “I love this kind of road movie. And I have learned a little about the constantly changing and surprising faces of China’s variety.” The handover runs smoothly; the drivers for the next four days have arrived. Their destination is Shenzhen, with the first stage tomorrow heading for Hangzhou.

Day 5

Day 1