2018 Audi Sportscar Experience: Fast, fun!
Audi kicked off the 2018 season of its Sportscar Experience with much panache at the Buddh International Circuit last week. OVERDRIVE was there, and while we were hoping for some more action, the handful of laps I managed to put in, in a couple of fast Audis did not disappoint. The Audi Sportscar Experience was first held in India back in 2012 and has been part of the German car maker's event calendar every year since. Cars on the menu this year included the Audi RS6 Avant and the Audi RS7 Performance, along with the Audi R8 V10 Plus as also the recently launched Audi RS5. While the RS5 and Audi R8 were to be driven on the racetrack, the RS6 and RS7 were part of the handling test, as the program has always included a separate handling test apart from giving attendees an opportunity to let the ponies loose on track.
The Audi Sportscar Experience allows prospective buyers and customers to experience Audi's engineering prowess by allowing them to have a go in its performance cars at a racetrack
I first tackled the handling course, a short circuit consisting of a couple of tight chicanes and a long left handed corner followed by a slalom and a braking area, made in the parking lot behind the paddock. The first lap was done with traction control on while the second one, a timed lap, was done with traction control off! The RS7 Performance, just to remind you is powered by a V8 TFSI engine (twin turbocharged V8 petrol) that produces 605PS. Needless to say, Quattro (Audi's full-time all-wheel drive system that sends power to all four wheels) keeps things in check, but turning traction control off means you're out on your own.
With 605PS on offer, the Audi RS7 Performance was seriously quick yet extremely maneuverable around the tight handling course that was part of the Audi Sportscar Experience
The RS7 was lurched ahead angrily as I launched it, taking off like a projectile. Handling a near two-tonne car around a tight course sounded like a bit of a challenge but the RS7 Performance managed to make it through rather easily. Steering feedback could have been better, but the steering did feel precise, helping me make quick directional changes. I managed to get across the course in 20.4 seconds, which was the second fastest lap time. Not bad, eh? Next up was the same exercise in the RS6 Avant, powered by the same engine, but makes slightly lesser power (560PS) and is also slightly heavier. It felt nearly as competent despite the heft, though it was slightly more fun thanks to the fact that it wiggled its big rump around a bit more.
The Audi RS6 Avant is bigger and heavier than the RS7 Performance, but can be more fun to drive
Done with the handling course, I moved to the pit lane, where the new RS5 and the last generation Audi R8 V10 Plus awaited us. I was hoping to pilot the new generation R8 V10, but that wasn't on the menu. Nonetheless, having driven the last generation R8 on several occasions I knew the experience would be fun. With a naturally aspirated V10 bellowing right behind my head the acoustics were brilliant, as was the fact that Quattro made putting all of the car's 550PS down very easy. The responses from the motor coupled with those from the quick-responding S-tronic dual clutch gearbox made the car quick, and the R8 indeed felt at home lapping the 5.12km long Buddh International Circuit.
Given that we were in a convoy I was only able to hit 230kmph on the speedometer, though I have crossed the 250kmph mark in the very car previously and knew that if I were to nail turn 3 at the BIC correctly, getting a much higher top whack on the 1.2km long back straight is easy. What shone through those two laps in the R8 was the car's brilliant stability, as also the excellent grip from the Vredestein tyres around the corners. The lightweight carbon fibre bodywork helped make light of the corners while the bolstering from the seat made sure I was in place all the time.
We only got to drive the last generation Audi R8 on track, but with 550PS going to all four wheels courtesy Quattro, we were not complaining at the Audi Sportscar Experience!
I'd saved the newest of the lot for the last the 2018 Audi RS5. After the R8 one would expect a smaller engined, more affordable relatively that is sportscar like the RS5 to feel feebler, but that was far from the truth. The new generation RS5 is powered by Audi's new 2.9-litre V6, turbocharged petrol engine that churns out 450PS along with a highly impressive 600Nm. The result was performance that was manic, though power delivery was certainly friendlier than the R8, which made the RS5 a lot easier to drive fast. This should make it easy to drive hard, even for drivers yet to cut their teeth in the fascinating world of performance cars. I haven't driven the new RS5 on the road yet, but my little rendezvous with it on track tells me the car takes the last generation car's legacy forward well.
The 2018 Audi RS5 is the newest addition to Audi's exciting line-up of performance cars and packs in quite a punch - powered by a 2.9-litre V6 that belts out 450PS and 600Nm - without sacrificing everyday practicality
Not only does it look stunning, the 2018 Audi RS5 is stunningly quick too. Quattro is a big help on track too - it sends power to all four wheels intelligently and also optimises grip levels
I'd always liked the previous generation RS5 for its versatility and comfort it had a fire-breathing, naturally aspirated V8 under its hood that sounded glorious, offered serious horsepower and also boasted excellent handling creds, making it great for casual track days. At the same time the car was extremely comfortable and always up for either being driven around town or hitting the highway. The new one may have traded the V8 for a turbocharged V6 but hasn't given up its ferociousness, neither has it given up its ease of driving. The new RS5 coupe retails at Rs 1.1 crore ex-showroom and makes for an interesting case for itself at the price, if looking for a sportscar that's quick and handles well, without trading everyday practicality and comfort. And as for the Audi Sportscar Experience, if you love fast cars, you should attend it! Stay tuned to OVERDRIVE for information on upcoming editions of the Audi Sportscar Experience.
The Audi Sportscar Experience is an avenue to enjoy some of the fastest cars from the German luxury car maker, in the safe confines of a racetrack
Starts Rs 2.55 Crore
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