Audi R8 Sportscar First Drive Impressions


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By Clint Thomas | Full Throttle

The R8 is the slowest car Audi has ever built! You might now be thinking I have gone off the rocker. Not really. I am referring to a tongue-in-cheek slogan Audi designed to bring attention to the time it takes to build an R8. Unlike other Audis, the R8 is meticulously hand-assembled in small numbers. It's a slow and lengthy process, but what it loses in time, it gains in craftsmanship.

The performance figures tell a very different story. Powered by a 5200cc V10 engine that develops a whopping 525 PS and 530 Nm of torque, the R8 rockets from 0-100 km/h in 3.9 seconds and on to a top speed of 313 km/h. Needless to say, these numbers make the R8 the fastest road car Audi has ever built.

Driving an Audi R8 on a race track has two advantages -- it certainly is the best way to appreciate this scrupulously crafted machine, and it's a great opportunity to polish your driving skills. Audi has designed their Audi Sportscar Experience (ASE) programme in such a way that the participants get expert training on handling, steering and braking departments so that they enjoy the R8 experience to the utmost.

Driving Experience

Twelve Audi R8s were lined up on the Madras Motor Sport Club race track and I clambered into the low-slung car assigned to me. The first thing anyone would appreciate is the heavily bolstered seats that hold the occupants snug and in place. The sleek gear shift knob that's milled from a single piece of aluminum grabs your immediate attention, too. Looking around, one would realize why Audi calls it the 'slowest car they've made'. Every element is impeccably and beautifully appointed, making the R8's cabin one of the greatest places to be in.

I twisted the key and the ten pots gave a low growl. Guided by Audi's official driving instructor Mark Allison, the convoy strolled on to the track. Mr. Allison explained to us the R8's braking prowess and handling capabilities, followed by practice sessions.

Then it's on. The monsters hit that track with a sonorous exhaust note. It was truly an aural delight that no one could get enough of. I was too timid to push the R8 hard into corners as the track was wet after the previous night's rain. But the car remained beautifully balanced and I took turns a little faster and harder each time. The body was nearly flat on even the tightest corners. The R8's hydraulically assisted steering is brilliantly weighted at three digits speeds and offers plenty of of feedback to the driver.

Three laps were too less to assess what the mighty R8 is actually capable of and of course, I had to follow the pilot car. Yet, taming an intimidating machine was an exhilarating experience and it was a dream to drive this slowest yet the fastest sports car from the Audi stable.