Audi flagged off the first episode of the ‘Audi Sportscar Experience 2013’ at the Buddh International Circuit, which is by far the best venue in the country for such activities. The ‘Sportscar Experience’ is a program wherein enthusiasts can sign up and drive the finest sports cars from the Audi lineup under expert guidance around the circuit. The course includes guided driving around the track with specially designed slalom course with a series of handling and braking exercises. The vehicles for the job are the all new Audi R8 V10 Plus. Audi RS5, Audi TT and the Audi S4. With a jaw dropping 1500 BHP on offer, this experience was an explosion of adrenaline and perfect therapy to nirvana for the petrol head as we find out behind the wheel of the swanky Audi R8 V10 Plus.
The first leg of this years ‘Sportscar Experience’ also coincided with the launch of the most powerful version of the R8. The Audi R8 V10 Plus was launched at the perfect place. There is nothing better in the world than a sports car and a circuit at your disposal. The new R8 gets a variety of changes. The front looks more attractive and dynamic thanks to the new single frame grille and re-designed front air inlets. The headlamps and tail lamps are now all LED and the dynamic turn signals in the rear is now standard across the entire R8 range. The brakes are made of carbon fiber reinforced ceramic and are not only lighter in weight but also help shed speed quicker. Other changes include new bumpers and carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP) on the side blades, exterior mirror housing, front spoiler and rear diffuser. The Audi logo now moves up to the hood from the front grille.
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Getting behind the wheel, one first notices the neatly laid out interiors and comfortable seats. The cockpit feels true to a sports car. The leather wrapped steering feels good to hold and controls are easily accessible. The paddles shifters are large and convenient to use. The R8 features a Bang and Olufsen sound system but the only sound you will want to hear is from the engine. The R8 is a monster on the track but is yet comfortable to drive around in the city. A feat few cars can boast off.
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The 5204cc FSI V10 engine produces a mind boggling 550 BHP of insane power at 8000 RPM and 540 Nm of torque at 6500 RPM. It revs freely to the 8700 RPM mark. Power is now up by 24 BHP and torque by 10 Nm. Audi’s lightweight construction technology makes it faster to 100 km/hr by 0.1 seconds. The new R8 V10 Plus crosses the 100 km/hr mark in just 3.5 seconds, making it the fastest in the competition. It does the 0 – 200 km/hr dash in a mere 11.3 seconds. Mated to this V10 engine is an all new S tronic 7-speed transmission. Gear ratios are closely spaced for sporty response, however the seventh gear is tall to reduce engine speed and boost fuel economy. Throttle response is spontaneous and the throaty engine sound makes you want to keep going on and on. The paddle shifts work seamlessly and keeping pace behind the lead car (driven by Aditya Patel) was not at all difficult.
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The Audi R8 feels amazingly stable at high speeds. The rear spoiler opens up at 100 km/hr to generate that extra bit of down force required to keep the car firmly glued to the road. The steering weighs up brilliantly and feedback is simply phenomenal. It’s a case of point and shoot, squeeze the throttle on the straights and you will be pushed into your seat with authority, the roar from the engine is nothing less than music to the ears. The R8 tackles corners beautifully and with superb precision. The agility is attributed to Audi’s revolutionary ultralight weight construction technology.
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The new aluminium Audi space frame weighs around 210 kgs, 40% less than a comparable steel structure. The result is razor sharp handling. The perfect axle load distribution and the ‘Quattro’ all wheel drive system ensure that you never run out of grip under any circumstance. The engine is mounted low to attain the perfect center of gravity. Try and push too hard beyond the limit and you are bound to be at the receiving end. We had a small oversteery moment while carrying higher speed than required around turn 5 and 6 but a quick opposite lock enabled us to correct quickly and drive on. The light framework definitely helps leaps and bounds in defining the driving dynamics of this sports Coupe.
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The Audi R8 V10 Plus is available for Rs. 2.06 Crore (ex-showroom, Maharashtra), which is almost Rs. 90 lakhs cheaper than the Lamborghini Gallarado and we reckon this clinches it for the R8. Consider the stupendous design and the high speed manners dictated by the Quattro all wheel drive system, the R8 easily outraces the competition.
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As a part of the Sportscar experience, we had a small stint in the Audi RS5. The RS5 is powered by a 4163cc, V8 motor which produces 450 PS of power and gets to 100 km/hr in 4.6 seconds. The Quattro all wheel drive system and the 7-speed S tronic transmission makes it a cracker around the track. Also at our disposal were the Audi TT and the Audi S4, but lack of time meant we had to leave them for another day. We have already driven the Audi S4 in the past. You can read about it HERE. All good things must come to an end and it was an eventful, action packed day for us at work. Needless to say, it was the Audi R8, which was the undisputed show stopper.
Audi Sportscar Experience is available for Rs. 30,000/-. Details can be found on www.audi.in/drive.