Cars: Review of the Audi Q5

Have I caught your attention with the title? Audi. Q5. Who’s excited for a little car review? Honestly, I am most definitely thrilled to be writing this post about my recent experience with the Audi Q5 – aka #WhiteCabanaDreamCar.

I’ve been keen on the Q5 for a while now, but it hasn’t always been that way.

A long(er) while ago, you may remember that I became pretty obsessed with the Fiat 500. I loved the look of this little Italian go-getter, but eventually my want/need for this little one faded. I rented it for a weekend, and while I enjoyed driving it around Toronto, it barely fit my luggage, and it was quite a noisy highway ride.

In recent years, it was the Audi Q7 that caught my attention, and I wrote about it here. What a beautiful car. It’s sleek, stylish, and roomy. In fact, once I saw it up-close, I realized it might be a touch too roomy for my liking. With no children in tow, I don’t have a need for its third row of seats.

Enter the Q5. I kept seeing this car on the road, and I kept liking it. And liking it some more. When I drove home from Montebello, Quebec, I spotted many on the highway, and each time I saw one, I thought, “now that’s a nice looking car,” sometimes I said it to myself before I was close enough to confirm that the car I was eyeing was in fact an Audi Q5.

Given that I grew up with an Audi 5000, I have fond memories of the Audi brand. My parents bought our grey Audi 5000 at the Audi factory Ingolstadt, Germany, then shipped it over to Toronto way back in 1985! We traveled everywhere in that car as a family. When my Dad finally retired it in 2006 after 21 years and 344,996kms, it was a pretty sad day for all of us. We all knew it was at the end of its life (21 years!), but it was emotional to see it go. Is that weird? To be so emotionally attached to a car? Hope I’m not the only one!

Dad and our Audi 5000 in Ingolstadt, Germany
(my sister and I are in the backseat – camera shy, I guess)

Okay, so we weren’t too camera shy. My sister and I at a basket shop in Germany. I’m flexing my muscles by carrying the biggest basket I could find, I guess!

So this brings me to my recent, super up-close encounter with the Audi Q5. The AudiKW team generously loaned me a white Q5 for a couple of days of adventuring around the Waterloo region (see #WhiteCabanaxAudi on Instagram for a few more photos). What a treat! I was happy to explore the white, sleek AudiKW showroom while I waited for my car. While dealerships can be easily intimidating for someone like me (who knows very little about cars), I was pleasantly surprised by everyone’s welcoming attitudes. I felt comfortable.

I met with Deon and Robert who set me up with the Q5. Robert – a brand specialist – walked me through all the features of the Audi Q5 Komfort. This model is the lowest end of the Audi Q5 spectrum, so some elements I really liked, and others would come in a higher end model (like the Progressive or the Technik).

When I got in the car, the first things I noticed were the driver’s seat and the size of the front window. The driver’s seat was made for me (or so I like to think). It was comfortable from the beginning right up until I dropped off the car. The front window panel was large and free of obstructions. I know this should always be the case, but it isn’t. Sometimes the frame is too thick or the rear view mirror is bulky. I also loved that the windshield wipers tucked away beautifully – they weren’t visible when not in use. Great design detail!

I love the design of these mirrors.

I currently drive a 2004 Toyota Rav4 – which I really do love – but it doesn’t have the modern features of new cars, so it took me a little while to get used to all the tech in the Audi Q5. Okay – not that long, but you know what I mean. In the Audi Q5, I could actually plug in my phone and connect it to bluetooth. I know many new cars have this feature, but my Rav4 doesn’t, so it took a moment to get used to it. Once I did – let me tell you – I made as many hands-free phone calls as I could while I was driving! I get amused so darn easily!

I think I only managed to use about one or two of these buttons! I’m pretty tech-savvy, but not when it comes to cars!

The cargo space is decent in the Komfort (26.8 cubic feet), but I definitely noticed that it’s smaller than the space in my Rav4 (about 38 cubic feet). The seats fold down, of course, which helps for large loads, but it would be something I’d have to consider and test out before I’d purchase it as I do end up carrying large loads on random trips in and out of town. The cargo space in the Q5 is tidy with a hidden spare tire and a privacy cover, too.

 

Great design – everything has its place!

Because I live in Uptown Waterloo and normally walk or bike to the places I need to go, I forced myself to venture out a bit for a longer drive to get the full experience of this car. I took the highway-route to Cambridge so I could go fast! FUN! The pick-up in the Q5 was amazing, and my comfort level remained high! The car drove smoothly and quietly, and I definitely liked driving fast (within speed limits, of course)!

When I was going over the features with Robert at the dealership, he told me that the car can adjust to various driving modes – dynamic, comfort, auto, etc. I opted for dynamic for the majority of the time because the ride felt fast and smooth. Dynamic mode has tight steering and more aggressive gear shifting. Comfort, on the other hand, has softer, easier steering and less aggressive gear shifting.

Look at the little lights underneath the handles – love them!

Having the Audi Q5 in my possession made my birthday celebrations extra fun! In fact, since my parents came for a visit, they, too, experienced the luxurious drive! This was especially fun for my dad who recreated his Audi pose from 1985. 

Notice my approach to parking? The farther and emptier, the better!

Over the course of my Audi Q5 ownership, I drove as much as I possibly could. In addition to driving to and around Cambridge, Kitchener, Waterloo, and St. Jacobs, I drove over to the sweet town of Elora for a birthday dinner celebration. On the way, I stopped by the Montrose kissing bridge – the last covered bridge in Ontario, and the oldest of its kind in Canada.

And I also stopped by the castle-house on Middlebrook Road (between Montrose and Elora).¬† While in Elora, I checked out the progress of the Elora Mill. Construction is well underway, and I’m very much looking forward to a return trip here to eat, stay, and relax! It’s going to add so much more prettiness to the already-pretty town of Elora. As you can see in these photos, parking the Q5 was a breeze. Backing into grassy areas and stone-covered roads was a-okay!

For an SUV, the Audi Q5 is extremely fuel efficient. I love this aspect of the car! Apparently, it’s good to go 1000km on a tank of gas. Isn’t that amazing for an SUV?

I took on several passengers over the course of my mini-ownership. Every passenger loved the experience. All agreed that the car was definitely sleek and luxurious and beautifully designed. Back-seat passengers felt that the ride was spacious and comfortable and enjoyed the adjustable back seats as well as the back-seat air conditioning controls.

As a driver, I got easily used to having the control buttons at my fingertips on the console. While some passengers assumed that the navigation screen was touch-screen, it wasn’t. This didn’t bother me at all. I really liked having the circle button on the console to control music, phone calls, settings, etc. It was very easy to operate and comfortable because I didn’t need to extend my arm for touch screen.

While I did absolutely enjoy the Audi Q5 Komfort, and my interest in purchasing one has been confirmed because of this recent driving experience, there are some features that did not come with this model that I would want. My top priority would be a sunroof. I love having a sunroof in my Rav4, and I would definitely want a Q5 that had one. The model that I drove didn’t have all the snazzy sensors and cameras that I would want in a new car. I’d definitely upgrade to include these as I think they’re especially handy for parking and highway driving.

If you can’t already tell, overall, I have become more attached to the Audi Q5 after this driving experience. It’s a beautiful vehicle from every angle, and it made me feel safe, happy, and secure. I also loved walking up to it knowing that I got to get in the driver’s seat. This car definitely suits my style and personality!

Do I still think that this is the car for me? You bet!

Unless, maybe, I should try out the Audi TT first? ūüôā

Many thanks to MC and the AudiKW team for sponsoring this post. All opinions and photos are my own.

p.s. Outfit details: jeans – Joe Fresh (last year), top – Kate Spade, eyeglasses – Polette, sunglasses – Rayban, purse – Longchamp.

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Travel: Review of the Delta Waterloo

When I wrote my Waterloo region city guide for Design*Sponge, the Delta Waterloo hotel had only recently opened. Last weekend, I was fortunate enough to stay the night and experience the hotel first hand. It might seem a little odd to some readers that I opted to have a little vacation within my own city, but every once in a while, I feel that it’s quite the luxurious adventure to leave behind weekend chores in search of rest and relaxation in a new environment.

So, I crossed King St. in Uptown Waterloo and checked into the Delta Waterloo for a little #WhiteCabanaStaycation.

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Although I had watched the Delta be built, I had never been in since I moved here three years ago. It’s the only 4-star hotel in Waterloo, so I assumed it would have quite a lot to offer.

I confirmed my reservation over the phone and requested an earlier check-in and later check-out if possible. While neither could be guaranteed, in the end, the Delta staff were able to accommodate both requests. I really appreciated that the Delta staff worked to accommodate these requests.

Parking was straightforward as was check-in. I was welcomed by Matt at the front desk, and he answered my initial questions about the hotel in a professional manner. The lobby of the Delta Waterloo is chic and sleek, and the lighting caught my attention.

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The Delta Waterloo generously offered me a corner suite. From my room, I had views of two of my favourite Waterloo buildings – the Perimeter Institute and CIGI Campus.

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My suite was bright, and with the sun shining in through the soft drapes, the room just felt warm and light. The suite had a king size bed – definitely a comfy hotel bed! – and a pull-out couch. It also had two TVs – yes, two! – and a desk area with a charging station (so convenient), great bedside lighting, and a bathroom outfitted with modern fixtures. The coffee station included a selection of teas and coffees, and the mini fridge was a useful addition.

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The bathroom was right up my design alley. The wood vanity, the white tiling, and the glass shower doors made the space really modern. Toiletries were by Apothia.

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The bed sheets were crisp, the bath towels were plush, and the hotel robe was cozy (I do love a good hotel robe!). Honestly, I can’t say anything negative about the room – or my stay, in fact. I had everything I needed for my #WhiteCabanaStaycation, and my room was a stylish and comfortable place to relax (I finally got through reading a few magazines that have been waiting for me at home!). Oh – and I loved that there were windows that I could actually open! (Am I the only one who gets annoyed when they don’t?) Good design feature, Delta Waterloo!

As far as hotel amenities go, the Delta Waterloo has a fitness centre, pool, hot tub, and sauna on the lower level. Even though the hot tub was off-duty due to a maintenance issue, I put the pool and sauna to use. As you can imagine, a trip to both added pleasure to my stay!

Dining out – and in – was easy at the Delta Waterloo. While there are many restaurant options in Uptown Waterloo, I decided to have dinner at Proof Kitchen & Lounge, which I have heard quite a bit about, but I had never been. Proof isn’t just for hotel guests; many local residents regularly go here for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

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Proof was definitely more stylish and design friendly than I had originally thought, so my first impression was a good one. When I was inside, it did not feel like I was in “small town” Waterloo. The hexagon graphic theme works well, and there are many clever names on the menu items that made me smile (e.g., the OMG chocolate cake, the Big Pimmpin’ Pimm’s Cup). I opted for the Big Pimmpin’ Pimm’s Cup and the Proof smoked Berkshire pork chop with fingerling potatoes for dinner. Yum. Yum. It’s not cheap, but it is delicious! (See all the menu items.)

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For breakfast, I ordered room service – which I rarely do, actually – and my meal arrived right on time. It was a basic breakfast of eggs and bacon, but I think it tasted better than usual because I didn’t have to make it myself (insert huge smile), and I could stay in my pyjamas (insert second huge smile). My #WhiteCabanaStaycation could have easily been called #WeekendofLuxury2.0.

For those of you who are new visitors to the region, you’ll be happy to know that the location of the Delta Waterloo could not be more perfect. Uptown restaurants are within walking distance as is Waterloo park, the Clay and Glass Museum, and the Waterloo Recreation Centre.

Guest rooms start at $169 per night, and deluxe rooms start at $189 per night. Read more about rooms and rates if you’re planning a trip to the Waterloo region.

Honestly, dear readers, there’s something just fabulous about traveling within your own city! I feel very fortunate that I got the opportunity to do so, and I’d encourage you to consider doing the same thing! (p.s. I’ve added a few more photos on Instagram and Twitter using #WhiteCabanaStaycation.)

Many thanks to Elaine S. and Delta Waterloo for sponsoring my accommodations. All opinions and photos are my own.

Exercise: Hourglass Workout Update

As you may recall, I joined Hourglass here in Waterloo a few weeks ago. I’ve been working out regularly (twice per week) for the last three weeks, and things are going well. While the workouts challenge me (and I grumble through some most all of the moves), I feel great after the workouts, and I do think my energy levels have increased. Considering that it’s cold, miserable, and grey, this is amazing news!

Now, even though I’m not a regular gym-goer, I do try to stay somewhat active. I walk a lot, and I love it. This is how I get in most of my exercise. I also take on DIY projects around my home which means that I’m usually lifting or moving or hammering. Surely each of these tasks adds up to a whole bunch of muscles! Right?

But the Hourglass workouts are different from just my regular daily activity. These workouts make me lift weights and increase my cardio and focus on my core strength. It’s been a good couple of weeks, and I’ve tracked some of my thoughts about the workouts below:

Week 1:

Day 1: It’s Monday. And I worked out. It’s a miracle. To my surprise, I wasn’t dreading today’s workout. I was actually curious about what my Hourglass Workout instructor, Iman, was going to make us do. I’m happy to say that I survived. And I didn’t hate it. We did a bunch of different exercises and the time went by fairly quickly.

The workout started with a quick run around the gym and a bunch of burpees (ew…I hate burpees. But I did them). From there, we did a gazillion lunges, pulse lunches, squats, pulse squats, ski lunges, more lunges, more squats, a bunch of bicycle sit-ups, some planks, and a few other moves that I can’t remember. It was tough. My legs are feeling the workout. I’m worried about how my body will feel tomorrow. I’m satisfied with how I did during this first session. I sweated it out and I stuck it out for the full hour. Day 1 is done!

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my instructor – Iman – and the Hourglass Workout founder – Lyzabeth – at the Hourglass Waterloo Grand Opening

Week 2:

Day 3: I have worked out on the days that I said I was going to work out, and I’m very proud of myself. The workouts are tough (no surprise there since I never exercise!), but Iman is very encouraging. She has watched my form, she encourages yells at me to push myself, and we do end up laughing quite a bit during the workouts. The atmosphere is certainly positive. On days 2 and 3, I used the bosu ball and kettle bell for the very first time. I’m waking up a whole heck of a lot of muscles in my core, and I don’t think my obliques have ever worked so hard!

Day 4: I got my butt out of bed at 5:30am today to make it to Iman’s 6am class. Yes, you read that right. 6am. Amazing. The workout was a good one; I followed a circuit of exercises that included the bosu ball, a kettle bell, weights, the weighted ball (don’t remember what those are called), a box step-up jump-up thing, and a crazy heavy rope set-up. I did a gazillion lunges, sit-ups, step-ups, jump-ups, jumping jacks, planks, TRX lunges, push-ups, and more (yes, more!). My legs were definitely going at a slower pace at the end of the hour, but I made it through. I felt amazing for the rest of the day!

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these look like giant pillows, but don’t be fooled – they definitely test my balance and build by strength

Week 3:

Day 5: It’s Family Day (holiday here in Ontario) and ridiculously cold, but I slapped on my workout gear and headed out to meet my Hourglass team. We did a bunch of different moves, including the dreaded burpees and variations of the darn burpee that included pushups. Ugh! Burpee + pushups!? Iman had created a circuit for us, and it included a gazillion lunges, a bajillion ab crunches, and a bunch of things with the weighted ball. The time just flew tonight, and before I knew it, the hour class ended, and my abs and arms were feeling mighty fine.

Day 6: I was feeling a tad tired pre-workout, but I threw on my gear and went for it. I got a private training session today – bonus! I do not know why my workout mates decided to take the evening off, but it worked out for me. I did a circuit of a bunch of activities – 2 minute intervals, 40 second intervals, etc. It was varied and hard! Notice a pattern in my reflections? Working out is hard – but it’s doable! Today’s workout included: bicep curls (I used 8lbs weights today), tricep lifts, lunges with weights, step-ups, a gazillion ab crunches of various kinds, dead lifts, skipping rope, mountain climber, more lunges, push-ups, burpees (!), kettle bell swings, high knee running, and more (yes, more!). I’ve learned a bunch of new exercise vocabulary in the last three weeks. I think my favourite moves are dead lifts and (easy) crunches. The tough ab work drives me nuts during the workout, but I don’t actually mind them. Push-ups are my weakest move. Burpees might even be better than push-ups. Maybe. Anyway, it was a good evening workout, and I feel great!

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there’s my booty on the left mid-push-up-burpee-rope-pulling; post-workout selfie on the right

I’ve been working out twice per week, and I have found that this works for me and my schedule. There’s a possibility to add a third workout to my routine, but it would take more effort on my part to squeeze it in.

Oh – and I’m not working out because I’m concerned about weight loss. I just want to feel stronger and more toned. I think my weight has actually stayed the same over the last few weeks, but I do feel that I’m getting stronger. I should really take note of my weight/inches/and all that, so that I can share a more detailed progress report in the weeks ahead. Yes? Okay. I’ll see what I can do!

Read the 5 reasons why I signed up for Hourglass. Follow my exercise adventures on Instagram with #WhiteCabanaGetsFit.
If you’re interested in the workout, learn more at Hourglass. Thanks again, Iman, for pushing me!

Mixing it Up: Black and White

Today’s post is a bit of a mix-up. I just wanted to share some black and white photos¬†I¬†have recently snapped.

I saw this accordion at the St. Jacobs antique mall and loved the bedazzled scroll work.

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Rox-Anne and I enjoyed a¬†great brunch at the¬†relatively new Gilt Restaurant in¬†Kitchener a few weeks ago here in KW. The restaurant is ideally located at King & Victoria, and the food and decor were both impressive. Here’s a quick peek at the washroom entry.

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And since I’m on the bathroom train, I just loved the black and white hex flooring in the bathroom at Toronto’s Royal Alexandra¬†theatre.¬†What a pretty border!White-Cabana-Royal Alex

 

Black and white is classic!

The Friday Five: Things I Learned in February

Following my end of January post called Things I Learned This Week, I thought it would be appropriate to end this week by sharing five things I learned this month.

1. February is a month that really just whizzes by in a flash. I never really paid too much attention to this before, but this month was really just a complete blur. I was sick for almost three weeks of it, but other than that, I have barely a recollection of what I did! I hate feeling like this.

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via Me and My DIY

2. The Waterloo Public Library¬†in uptown Waterloo is awesome. I love libraries and I think we should continue to show them our support. Right? Who’s with me?

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3. I love doing the Saturday Toronto Star crossword when I’m at my parents’ house. I can actually do it (or most of it)! I don’t actually get the newspaper at my own home, but it’s one of the first pages I turn to when I see the Star sitting on my parents’ kitchen table. I liked this one especially since the clue for 67 down was “Ontario city”, and the answer was “Waterloo”. Do you see it in the photo?

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4. Showering my cousin’s baby with¬†well wishes on¬†this sweet¬†display made me happy.

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5. I had a great time at The Home Depot spring preview event earlier this week. I can’t wait to BBQ and start planting in a few months. The HD has quite a few new BBQs in stock, so I encourage you to check them out if you’re in the market for one. Here I am pretending to water some herbs in a space designed by Tim:

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While the month¬†went by in a flash, and it was generally decent (from what I remember), I’m glad it’s coming to an end because I cannot wait¬†to ditch my winter coat and enjoy a warm¬†spring.

Personal: A Birthday Week

It was my birthday last weekend, and while there were no balloons or sprinkles à la every-Pinterest-party-photo, I had a few days of celebratory fun.

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my birthday crown

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lazy morning patio time

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a birthday selfie – wearing my new favourite sweatshirt

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Cutting pizza with scissors – doesn’t everybody do this?

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flowers from the Kitchener market

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homemade chocolate cake by my mom – delicious!

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Elora, Ontario

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Architecture: CIGI Campus

I was recently given a tour of the CIGI Campus, one of my favourite buildings in Waterloo. The CIGI Campus was built on the former site of the Seagram’s Distillery and is now home to innovative academic and research programs.

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The CIGI Campus is home to the Balsillie School of International Affairs (BSIA) as well as the Centre for International Governance and Innovation (CIGI). I have been fortunate to work with some of the scholars and students at the CIGI Campus and I am impressed by their professionalism, intelligence, and the pride they have for the work that they do.

The CIGI campus is impressive for several reasons. First, the exterior’s modern design is a striking focal point in the Uptown Waterloo landscape. Second, the interior architecture is innovative, bright, and sleek. Finally, the clean lines, repetitive forms, and interior courtyard are attractive and inviting. Let’s take a tour, shall we?

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front lobby

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front lobby walls and ceiling

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stairway to patio and auditorium

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auditorium

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sleek auditorium walls

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chairs made from recycled materials

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overlooking the courtyard

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Stylish, right?

For additional information about the CIGI campus click here.

All photos by Jordana. Many thanks to Lauren A. at CIGI for the tour!