The Super, Truly, Really Great Audi R8
Audi Invites a Group of Women Auto Writers to Slay its R8 on a Racetrack. Seriously, OMG!
By Tara Weingarten
Girls Just Wanna Have Fun
Sometimes, I can’t believe I have this job; auto writing, that is. Here’s how my day started. I awoke in Palm Springs at one of the desert city’s best salutes to mid-century modern architecture, L’Horizon Hotel & Spa. On this cloudless morning, I walked from my exquisitely decorated 1960s redone glam bungalow to the parking lot, where a line of shamelessly sexy Audi R8s awaited. If you haven’t seen one, the Audi R8 is a design for the ages. (Indeed, like the hotel in which we were bunked. Nice synergy.) Unlike other supercars, the Audi R8 doesn’t look like an overly testosteroned version of a sports car. It doesn’t look like one of those transformer toys with which little boys play, and it doesn’t look like a hulking, loud brut of a car dream male adolescents and immature men have. Rather, it is elegant in its sportiness, sophisticated in its architecture, and timeless in its appeal. In short, it’s the kind of racy car both men and women covet with a cool factor beyond reason.
Ladies, Start Your Engines
I hopped in a cherry red R8 and hit the streets of Palm Springs. It was just before dawn, and light on the eastern horizon of the desert, just atop the mountain edges, was beginning to flash an outline of the rocky Coachella Valley’s topography. At this hour, the R8 could rumble a bit. It was just me, my sexy companion (the R8, I mean), and the three other auto journalist gals who were driving their own R8s. Our destination: The Thermal Club, a private race track about 35 miles from Palm Springs.
Once A VroomGirl, Always A VroomGirl
I know what you’re thinking. From the looks of it, the Audi R8 is hard to drive, a rough ride, uncomfortable and scary. Not so. I promise. I sat in the oh so comfy and perfectly bolstered diamond-stitched soft leather seats. Mine came with a super-smooth 7-speed automatic transmission. I had the choice of just having the car shift gears for me, or using the fun paddle shifters mounted on the steering wheel. Either way, the car does everything. Handling is great, steering is precise, acceleration is immediate but not out of control in any way, and braking is spot-on and quick to stop, should you want to do that.
This is a sports car with gentlemanly manners. It’ll go fast enough to rearrange your thoughts, should you stomp on the gas pedal, or it will behave like a polite and well-trained butler who wants nothing more than to please you, if you tap lightly on the accelerator. Most of all, the Audi R8 exists for no other reason than to scatter F-U-N! It’s impossible to drive this car without a stupid grin on your face.
I’m A Speed Freak
After a quick half-hour sprint to the Thermal Club’s racetrack in Thermal, Ca., we spent the morning taking laps on the private course. The Audi R8 is built to be a street car, but you wouldn’t know it while whipping it around tight corners, putting pedal to the metal on straight-aways, and generally feeling exhilarating lateral G-forces through a myriad of twists and turns. Sure, the R8 wasn’t built to be a race car, but a race car it is. For the vast majority of us who will never become professional drivers, the abilities of the Audi R8, with a choice of V8 engine (with 540 horsepower and a zero to 60 mph time of 3.5 seconds) or V10 Plus engine (with 610 horsepower and a zero to 60 mph time of 2.7 seconds), and optional all-wheel-drive, are more than we can ever dream to master.
And aside from exceptional speed, handling, steering and stopping prowess, the Audi R8 comes standard with a variety of state-of-the-art safety equipment, should one of us make a boo boo and do something stupid. Chances are, many of the problems that could arise, like spinning or skidding, could be countered by the R8’s safety features. In other words, the R8’s incredible build quality and embedded technology gave me confidence to push myself on the racetrack. I went pretty fast. About 120 mph (maybe 125…) on the back straightaway. But more impressive was how fast I was able to take corners and still stay on line and not slide. The R8 rides low, is equipped with fat tires and big wheels, and has a fast transmission that upshifts and downshifts right on cue. Fun. Fun. Fun. Really.
Uh Oh…Bucket List Item Checked. Now What?
Luckily for me, once is not enough. So I don’t have to kick the bucket just yet. I live in anticipation of having another opportunity to drive this dreamy sports car another time or two or 10 on a racetrack, out in the California desert, or wherever I am fortunate enough to feel those R8 G-forces again.