The skies are slate grey and there’s a light snow falling as we set out for the County, the temperature hovering around freezing. I hit the starter button and the diesel thrums to life under the Touareg’s hood. It’s November, just pushing on winter, the perfect time for a weekend getaway. The destination: the Drake Hotel’s newest outpost in Wellington, Prince Edward County, a quick 90-minute drive from Toronto and surrounded by galleries, wineries and a growing number of farm-to-table restaurants. The mode of transport: VW’s newest Touareg SUV.
There are a few things you need in your ride of choice to ensure a good road trip. The first: a good stereo system for tunes, podcasts and the occasional rock-out to the ’90s SiriusXM channel. The second: adequate climate control—winter or summer, comfort is essential. The third: a good nav system. The Touareg is nailing it on all of these points as we wind our way out of the city and eastbound on the 401. My phone is wirelessly connected to the sound system, my passenger the DJ. The seats are heated, and the dual-zone electronic climate control is keeping us both at the optimum temperature. Meanwhile, the road unfurls ahead of us through the windshield while the GPS displays our position moving ever closer to the Drake.
But first a word about diesels. These quirky powerplants have had their share of bad press over the years for being loud, foul-smelling and sluggish. All of these, as anyone who drove a diesel car in the 1980s can attest, were pretty fairly earned criticisms. But this is no longer the case, as the Touareg’s TDI Clean Diesel motor quickly proves. A 3.0 litre V6 mill good for 240 horsepower and an impressive 406 lb/ft of torque, the TDI makes merging and passing on the highway effortless. Not only that, the 8-speed automatic transmission and smooth ride quality ensures complete comfort at any speed. It’s also remarkably quiet.
The city, the suburbs and the exurbs fade in the rearview. We make an obligatory Tim’s stop. We pass that giant apple and consider pulling over for pie. The snow turns to sleet as we steer off the expressway and onto the Loyalist Parkway, which winds past silos and through farming towns as we approach Wellington. The VW feels stable and assured on the slick roads thanks to all-wheel drive. Lake Ontario appears on our right behind a row of stately lakeside homes, and very soon our journey’s end is in sight.
Tucked away just south of Wellington’s main road, the Drake Devonshire is a boutique hotel combining Classic Canadiana with a refined, modern décor. A MacAuslands wool throw sits on the edge of the bed, while thrift-store painting of migrating ducks in our room has been remixed, transforming one into a fly. We make our way down to the restaurant, whose floor to ceiling windows look out over the churning waters of the lake. In the morning when we come down for brunch the sun will just be breaking through the clouds, hitting waves that glitter like smashed glass. Now, in the dark, the windows reflect ourselves back at us, two people, relaxed and happy, laughing over food and wine in a new place at the end of a good day.