A day with Audis
An open airstrip with a license to let loose some seriously fast cars is a rather extraordinary scenario. The venue was ‘TAAL’, short for Taneja Aerospace and Aviation Limited in Bengaluru, where German carmaker Audi had decorated the airstrip with its entire line-up sold in India. Experiencing all the products Audi has on offer and a drive of the all-new Audi R8 V10 plus was the agenda. Everything from the nimble A3 to the sporty RS7 and also the ‘Q’ SUVs showed up to demonstrate their strengths. The highlight, of course, was the all-new R8 V10 plus. With 610hp and a claimed top speed of 330kph, it is the fastest and most powerful road-legal car Audi ever built, so pardon the excitement. The ‘A’ range, comprising the A3, A3 Cabriolet, A6 Matrix and A8L, were to be driven to a scenic location outside the airstrip premises to experience the planted ride and comfort they offer with some open-top motoring as well. Short on time, we had to choose between the ‘A’ drive and the ‘Q’ experience. The opening image clarifies which box I ticked.
Starting the ‘Q’ drive, my weapon of choice was the mighty Q7. A selection of axle breakers, steep hill ascent and descent and 35-degree inclined dunes were tackled effortlessly by the ‘quattro’ system while listening to Billy Joel through the sonorous Bose 3D music system. The Q7 felt completely at home and quite relaxing over the harsh setup. The multiple off-road driving aids available are easy to use and do make a huge difference. After laying a coat of mud on the Q7, I moved on to the performance cars where I had my eye on the TT and RS7.
The TT first, the light and compact sportscar scampered off the line with the 2.0-litre turbo-petrol gathering pace sooner than expected. The long runway was more than enough to attain its claimed top speed of 250kph. However, I wish I could’ve shown it some corners.
Out of the TT and in to the RS7. Everything was suddenly bigger. The cabin, steering, and also, the numbers on the dials. The 4.0-litre V8 catapults you to a 100kph a shade under 4 seconds and can take the needle well past 250kph. Lastly, it was the crème de la crème, the R8 V10 plus. Available in ‘Dynamite Red’ and ‘Vegas Yellow’, the R8s looked as tempting as warm chocolate fudge. I was about to get a taste of its hardcore performance.
It was hard to miss the 5.2-litre V10 engine note. The new R8 is as striking as any supercar with more angles and streaks compared to the old car, and despite Audi’s subtle and discreet design philosophy, manages to stand out from the crowd. The same goes for the interior where everything is subtle and sleek. With launch control engaged, the R8 shot off the line with the engine screaming right behind my back. It was nothing but a blur outside the windshield and all I could see was the tachometer changing colour as the needle redlined at 8,800rpm on every shift. Before I could register much, I saw the ‘BRAKE’ sign. I couldn’t believe it was over. I came to a halt with the engine just howling for more and before I knew it, I had to bid adieu to the absolute rocket that is the R8. In a country with bad roads and unfavourable conditions, you can only do complete justice and experience the unhinged performance these cars are capable of at venues like this.