Motoring

Down the road in a German rocket

As someone who writes about luxury cars for a living, driving in and out of Mumbai on a weekend is just another day at work. But last Saturday was a special one, as I had the keys to the fastest production car Audi has ever made. My weekend ride was the Audi R8 V10 Plus, a German supercar that has a top speed of 330 km/hour and can touch the 100 km-an-hour mark from a standstill before you can even complete reading this sentence (2.9 seconds to be precise).

Now in its second generation, the R8 carries the unique angular looks of its predecessor, tweaked to look more aggressive than before. The signature side blades along with the side-view mirror and rear spoiler are now made of carbon fibre. The headlights are sharper and use lasers to illuminate the road ahead. You read that right, lasers. It is, after all, the car that ‘Tony Stark’ drives and it looks stunning from every angle.

In the hot seat

Stepping inside, I realise how spacious the car is. For someone who is 6.2’ tall, supercars are not exactly the most comfortable places to be in, but that is not the case with the R8, where I found a good amount of headroom too. Unlike the exteriors, the interiors are completely different from the previous. The traditional dials and lights have been replaced with a large, crisp screen which displays the driving information, navigation and media details. It is positioned in a manner that doesn’t need too much eye movement. Though there is a slight learning curve, it is by far the most competent infotainment system out there.

Sitting behind my head was the most exciting part of the R8, its 5.2-litre naturally-aspirated V10 engine. A motor that unleashes 610 horses and is ported straight from the R8’s less-practical Italian sibling, the ‘Lamborghini Huracan’. I press the bright red ‘Start’ button to awaken the mighty V10 engine and commence my journey, a 120-km ride from suburban Mumbai to Aamby Valley City, a plush township near the hill station of Lonavala. While getting out of the city and cruising through Mumbai traffic, I put the car in Comfort Mode, a driving mode that essentially calms down this beast, or to put it simply, puts it in a cage. The engine is quiet, the gear shifts smooth and the suspension soft enough to absorb most of the abnormalities our roads have. Soon enough, Audi’s cylinder-in-demand kicks in, an ingenious technology that shuts off 5 cylinders when cruising at low and medium speeds. Not only is it efficient, but it also makes driving such a powerful car easy in bumper-to-bumper traffic. The ride was so comfortable that after a while, it felt that I was driving a low-slung sedan.

Adrenaline on demand

With the start of the Mumbai-Pune Expressway, it was time to unleash the caged beast. I press the Drive select button and put the car into dynamic mode. In an instant, the magnetic suspension hardens, the steering stiffens, the gearbox downshifts a gear or two, and the exhaust, oh my, it just opens up its addictive symphony of crackles, sputters and pops. The R8 V10 Plus just got angrier and was ready to give me the ride of my life on the twists and turns of the six-lane Expressway: 610 bhp is a lot of power. To put it in perspective, your average Japanese/Korean sedan has around 100-120 bhp, and it is a four-seater with a boot. Keeping all that power on the road is Quattro (Audi’s all-wheel-drive system), which smartly transfers the 413 lb-ft of torque between the two axles. This, along with the host of sensors and computing power, constantly corrects your faults without spoiling the fun.

The R8 cut through the expressway like a hot knife through butter, and with the 7-speed dual-clutch gearbox and Quattro at my disposal, I felt confident to push the car hard enough on sharp uphill turns. The sequence was hard braking followed by rapid acceleration. Over and over, the car did it effortlessly, while being firmly planted on a lane. It had me asking ‘How did I even make that turn’. That’s the trait of some superb engineering — making you a better driver than you are. The Audi R8 V10 Plus is one of those rare cars that falls into the category of a practical supercar. From Aamby Valley and back I covered more than 300 km in five hours, at the end of which all I had to do was step out and stretch a bit. I cannot even imagine doing this in one of the R8’s Italian competitors: An hour of driving them on our roads, and your mind and body both need rest. It looks good, delivers eye-watering performance, and is also the car that you would want to drive to work— especially if it’s tangerine.The Audi R8 V10 Plus is priced at ₹3.4 crores (ex-showroom, Mumbai).

Dhiram Shah is the Mumbai-based founder of Luxurylaunches.com.


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Printable version | Sep 21, 2021 12:04:18 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/Motoring/down-the-road-in-a-german-rocket/article18414544.ece

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