I used to drive the family car, a beaten up Nissan which racked up most of its miles on grocery runs. It served us well. While it wasn’t the sort of car that would make a plastic surgeon’s fingers itch, nothing about it stood out. Nope, not its tan colour or the numerous dents that it acquired (thanks, Dad).
But I was perfectly comfortable driving it. It blended into the swim of traffic and it wouldn’t have mattered if I added another dent to it.
So you can imagine how I felt the day I was given the keys to the new Audi R8 for a test drive. Excited, yes, but terrified as hell. Unlike the regular Audi models, which tend to look all too similar and unimaginative, the R8 is something else. You’d consider it a bona fide supercar these days, and like a swan in a crowd of common ducks, it is a looker. But it doesn’t try too hard, and it was up to me to keep this bird a swan.
That proved to be more difficult than I’d thought, as the car’s really a caged lion in disguise. Fuelled with testosterone and enough horsepower to kick a Porsche 911 in the nuts, this R8 is Audi’s path to driving nirvana. It sees red in a mere 3.5 seconds. One tap on the gas and its fury comes alive, and pushing its buttons proved hard to resist. Besides, if you don’t bother letting it loose, driving it would be tantamount to drinking non-alcoholic beer. Boring and absolutely pointless.
The Audi R8 Coupe
I found it an astonishingly easy car to drive quickly, and to well, burn rubber just for fun. I might have also lost count of the number of — generally very hard to please — Singaporeans who gawked as I zipped by.
I was drunk with power, even if I didn’t get it up to its maximum speed of 320 km/h. As a step up from the old V8 engine, it now uses the same naturally aspirated V10 engine and dual-clutch transmission as the Lamborghini Huracan. The V10 packs a punch, one that comes with a thrilling soundtrack. And it gets even better when you go for the V10 Plus, which also features racing seats and carbon-ceramic brakes.
It’s gained extra power, too, coming with 540 horsepower and 610 in the plus version. This intensity is channeled through its quattro four-wheel-drive system, which is capable of varying the power sent to each wheel according to the level of grip that’s available. It devours tarmac like no tomorrow, rain or shine, and takes on corners like a beast. There’s zero turbo lag as well, and as long as you don’t drive like a fool, clever drive modes will always be one step ahead of you.
Yours for $783,380 (after VES)
ENGINE: 5,204cc, V10
POWER: 540 horsepower
TORQUE: 540Nm at 6,500rpm
0-100KM/H: 3.5 seconds
TOP SPEED: 320 km/h
TRANSMISSION: 7-speed dual-clutch