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Old 3rd June 2016, 11:52   #1
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Default Audi Experience: Driving the R8 V10 Plus, RS7, RS6 & more

Introduction:

Audi roped in cricketing sensation Virat Kohli to unveil / launch the all-new R8 V10 and V10 Plus. Priced at Rs. 2,60,21,000 (ex-showroom, Karnataka), it represents value to those looking at something like (a) the Mercedes-Benz AMG GT-S, which for similar money, is a good 100 horses down on the R8, or (b) the Lamborghini Huracan LP 610-4, that's nearly a crore more for what is essentially an Audi R8 V10 Plus in a tailored Italian suit.

Audi Experience: Driving the R8 V10 Plus, RS7, RS6 & more-thumb_p1020585_1024.jpg

Audi Experience: Driving the R8 V10 Plus, RS7, RS6 & more-thumb_p1020627_1024.jpg

The German marque pulled out all the stops for this launch event and took this as an opportunity to showcase its entire range of executive barges, sporting cars and mud pluggers to a sea of journalists, prospective customers and ostensibly unimpressed aerodrome staff at the TAAL (Taneja Aerospace and Aviation Limited) - the airstrip that played host to the press cars' shenanigans. Located at Belagondapalli in Tamil Nadu, about 10 kilometres south of Hosur, TAAL's Air Works hangar and 2.1 kilometre-long runway is arguably the ideal location for a spot of inhibited hoonery.

After the obligatory drivers' briefing, we were hoarded out of the large, makeshift tent and onto the airstrip, only to be greeted by two R8s sliding around in synchronised formation, whilst a third orange V10 Plus, in typically dramatic fashion, hurtled out of the main Hangar across the runway and crawled onto the stage, where the press was addressed by Audi India's Joe King and brand ambassador, Virat Kohli.

Last edited by GTO : 3rd June 2016 at 13:29.
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Old 3rd June 2016, 11:53   #2
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Audi Q Drive Experience:

Audi Experience: Driving the R8 V10 Plus, RS7, RS6 & more-1.jpg

In spite of Mercedes-Benz / BMW's first-mover advantage in the growing SUV segment, it was Audi's Q7, back in 2005, that was at the forefront of the SUV boom. The German marque quickly consolidated its presence even further, by launching a slew of SUVs that occupied various segments below the Q7. Ten years later, an all-new generation of the Q7 was unveiled to the public and needless to say, it was well received.

Audi Experience: Driving the R8 V10 Plus, RS7, RS6 & more-2.jpg

Driving a brand-new Q7 45 TDI on what seemed like an insipid off-road course next to the airstrip was an interesting experience. Once I came to terms with the boardroom-like interior and all the fancy gadgetry, I eased off the brake pedal and let the car waddle through a series of potholes. The ride quality is exemplary to say the least and the wad of torque laboured the behemoth through the first obstacle. But, it didn't take me long to realise that I was nothing more than a piece of meat in the driver's seat, only there for the ride. What was particularly unnerving was the lifeless steering and lack of adequate feedback from the pedals. As I proceeded to drive one side of the Q7 over a muddy incline whilst simultaneously trying to not soil myself, the multitude of driver aids and electronics took over and saw us through to the next daunting task - climbing over a sharp incline, taking a quick U-Turn and then climbing back down. After about two minutes of steady throttle, muttering expletives and holding on for dear life, I managed to negotiate the incline.

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The next and last obstacle was an articulation test that the Q7 sailed through with incredible ease. The Q3s and Q5s of the convoy just about managed to scramble onto their fours.

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Audi A Drive Experience:

A gentle reminder that Audi also makes boringly impressive cars, was the half hour drive to Thally Lake from the aerodrome, organised by the good folks who brought us the R8. The prospect of driving a 2-litre diesel barge on country roads wasn't particularly appealing. As impressive as they are, staying away from the A6 and A8 was a conscious effort. So I hopped into the first car I saw - an Audi A3 Cabriolet. With its convertible top and a free-revving 1.8-litre TFSI petrol engine, the A3 Cabrio seemed like a no-brainer, for what Audi called a 'scenic drive'. The route, dotted by quaint little villages and settlements, was a 20 km stretch of reasonably smooth tarmac, not without its fair share of potholes, undulations and poorly constructed culverts - perfect, for a spirited drive through the countryside! Driving with the top down wasn't too bad, but the wind managed to drown-out 1.8-litre TFSI mill's muzzled growl. So we had to make do with ambient hamlet sounds, whilst soaking in the surprisingly pleasant summer sunshine and the occasional whiff of cowpat from the crisp village air as we made our way through rural Tamil Nadu.

I must say, that hustling the A3 Cabrio on public roads was a lot of fun, lack of aural gratification and numb steering notwithstanding. The engine's mid-range grunt assisted in closing gaps with ease. Unfortunately, the 7-speed S-Tronic dual-clutch gearbox refused to downshift in a hurry, particularly when braking in Tiptronic mode. The suspension isn't too stiff, making it a comfortable ride for the driver and passenger. However, scuttle shake was glaringly apparent when driven briskly over borderline-questionable tarmac. That said, being in the company of A6s and A8s also made me realise that the A3 is easier to live with on these little roads. Negotiating the rough stuff was relatively easy, by virtue of its minuscule footprint. That and the free-revving petrol engine made it the ideal scenic drive car in the convoy.

Last edited by Aditya : 3rd June 2016 at 12:06.
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Old 3rd June 2016, 11:53   #3
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Audi Sports Car Experience:

Audi Experience: Driving the R8 V10 Plus, RS7, RS6 & more-intro-pic-line-up.jpg

From the lows of the burbling, baritone V8s to the highs of the wailing V10s and the mids of the sonorous V6s in between, this German Ensemble's orchestra of internal combustion engines and their glorious exhaust notes was about as extravagant as having your own private rock concert! Oh, and the 4-bangers cannot be forgotten in a hurry! It's amazing how some of these manufacturers have managed to make these dreary, run-on-the-mill 4-cylinder cars sound so good!

Starting at the bottom of the food chain was the relatively tepid Audi TT.

Audi Experience: Driving the R8 V10 Plus, RS7, RS6 & more-tt.jpg

Powered by a 2.0-litre, in-line 4-banger that generates 230 horses and 370 Nm of torque, the little TT scampered to the ton from a standstill in well under 6 seconds, before going past 200 km/h at the braking point. Audi has done a commendable job, piping the exhaust / induction sound into the cabin, because it sounds really good and not synthesised as you'd expect. And this is the regular, workaday TT, not the TT-S / TT-RS, which I would imagine sounds even better.

The TT's party trick however, isn't its performance, but its supremely well-appointed cabin.

Audi Experience: Driving the R8 V10 Plus, RS7, RS6 & more-tt-interior.jpg

Audi Experience: Driving the R8 V10 Plus, RS7, RS6 & more-tt-info.jpg

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It's clean, simple and fuss-free. The AC controls and their little displays housed within the circular vents are nifty, and the Virtual Cockpit / MMI Terminal is very trick! The interface allows the driver to toggle between navigation, stereo, etc. With all these toys, sharp clothes and accessible performance, the TT makes a rather compelling case for itself. Think of it as a mini R8 and you're good to go!

So you want a TT, but let's say you also want something a little quicker, maybe something that can take the kids to school and also hold enough luggage room for a long weekend? Say hello to the Audi S5 Sportback!

Audi Experience: Driving the R8 V10 Plus, RS7, RS6 & more-s5-sportback.jpg

Audi Experience: Driving the R8 V10 Plus, RS7, RS6 & more-s5-rear.jpg

With its pronounced shoulders and frameless windows, it distinguishes itself just enough to look a little more stylish that the A4 - the car that it's based on. The S5 Sportback accommodates 4 people and their luggage, and will still take you to the ton from zero in 5 seconds whilst treating you to a fabulous exhaust note, courtesy the 3-litre supercharged V6 belting out 330 horses. If you want the perfect sporting all-rounder that you'd consider driving daily, there aren't too many other options that tick the boxes quite like this car. Bear in mind though, that the S5 Sportback is based on the previous generation A4 Platform. Spend sufficient time exploring the interior, and it quickly begins to show its age and feel dated, especially after giving TT's interior a once-over.

After poking around in the S5, I walked over to the two most inconspicuous looking cars on the airstrip. Who would have thought that a hulking 2-ton station wagon is capable of rearranging your internal organs?

Audi Experience: Driving the R8 V10 Plus, RS7, RS6 & more-rs6-front.jpg

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Enter the Audi RS6 Avant. The cartoonish 21" alloy wheels, the fussy front grille and the rear diffuser are perhaps the only tell-tale signs that there's something special about this estate. That said, the RS6 Avant in bright red isn't exactly the last word in subtlety, but the one in black looked pretty stealth!

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Step on the loud pedal and this seemingly innocuous station wagon squats on its haunches and peels off the blacktop, Quattro et al ensuring that it doesn't shimmy off the line under duress. The muscle car-like deep baritone note from the twin oval exhaust pipes may not fit the character of a large, unassuming family estate, but that's the appeal - it's so wrong that it's right! I'd hate to use the hopelessly hackneyed 'wolf in sheep's clothing' description for this car, but it just fits so beautifully! As great as the exhaust note is though, it is still slightly muted - blame forced induction for that.

Sending power to all 4 wheels is a 4.0-litre, bi-turbo V8 that makes 560 tyre-torturing horses and a scarcely-believable 700 Nm of torque from just 1,750 rpm - good for sub 4-second 0-100 km/h acceleration times, making it the quickest choice for school runs and veterinary appointments. This thing hauls, and hauls quite like nothing else! It's outrageous! It accelerates so violently that one of the GoPros mounted on the bonnet nearly fell off during the run! Hitting the brakes at 240 km/h exposes the inherent flaw that's common to most cars of this sort. The RS6 Avant does little to conceal its lard. You really do feel the weight of the thing especially when braking or attempting to change direction at speed. It can feel a bit disconcerting, but the electronic nannies should keep the car rubber-side-down unless you do something incredibly stupid.

In case the RS6 Avant looks too much like a soccer dad's drive, the RS7 Sportback shares its running gear albeit in a 4-door notchback body style with a fastback fanny.

Audi Experience: Driving the R8 V10 Plus, RS7, RS6 & more-thumb_p1020629_1024.jpg

Last edited by Aditya : 3rd June 2016 at 12:06.
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Old 3rd June 2016, 11:53   #4
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Audi Experience: Driving the R8 V10 Plus, RS7, RS6 & more-img_20160519_112945703.jpg

Right at the top of the food chain is the R8 V10 Plus. Its super car silhouette, lightning-quick gearshifts and its atmospheric V10 belting out a surreal soundtrack at full chat (i.e. 8,500 RPM), makes for a visceral experience that can only be matched by the Italians and the odd Porsche. Some say that it doesn't sound as dramatic as its mechanical twin, but it does pop and bang comically on the overrun!

The subtle curves of the outgoing car have been straightened and squared-off, making its posterior and face look edgier than before. Juxtapose the new sharp face / hindquarters to its persistently curvy side-profile and silhouette though, and you'd see why it's not exactly revolutionary in terms of design and styling. In spite of this distinct divergence, it still drops jaws like a super car should. You can't beat it for street-presence, even in the company of esteemed metal. Its taut skin appears stretched, tight over its haunches and tucked into its wheel wells, to give it this purposeful and exaggerated stance.

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Splitting the trademark side blades has proved to be immensely controversial and has sent Audi aficionados into an absolute frenzy. Apparently, this was done so that the Coupe shares its side profile with the Convertible / Spyder. In my opinion, the designers should have found a way to incorporate the side blade in the Spyder too instead of doing away with it altogether, only because the large blade gave it immense character and an identity of its own.

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The massive cheese-grater grille, paired with sharp, angular headlights dials in a whole lot of aggression. Viewed head-on, it looks exceptionally sinister:
Audi Experience: Driving the R8 V10 Plus, RS7, RS6 & more-lights-grille.jpg

Swathes of carbon-fibre enhances its exotic appeal:
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Audi Experience: Driving the R8 V10 Plus, RS7, RS6 & more-rear-haunches.jpg

Audi Experience: Driving the R8 V10 Plus, RS7, RS6 & more-fuel-filler-cap.jpg

Audi Experience: Driving the R8 V10 Plus, RS7, RS6 & more-mirror-v10-badge.jpg

Audi Experience: Driving the R8 V10 Plus, RS7, RS6 & more-blades.jpg

The carbon diffuser at the back looks the business while the carbon wing ruins the clean lines of the car:
Audi Experience: Driving the R8 V10 Plus, RS7, RS6 & more-exhaust-diffuser.jpg

Audi Experience: Driving the R8 V10 Plus, RS7, RS6 & more-spoiler.jpg

Exhaust piping visible through the vents at the back. Yummy!
Audi Experience: Driving the R8 V10 Plus, RS7, RS6 & more-exhaust-piping.jpg

LED Laser headlights in action:
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Audi Experience: Driving the R8 V10 Plus, RS7, RS6 & more-front-wheel.jpg

Just like the TT, the R8's interior is minimal, uncluttered and contemporary. General quality of materials is as good as it gets, the standout bits being the carbon-fibre trim and the door handles that appear to be hewn from a single block of aluminium:
Audi Experience: Driving the R8 V10 Plus, RS7, RS6 & more-thumb_p1020737_1024.jpg

The race-inspired steering wheel, festooned with switchgear, now allows you to dabble with various driver settings, whilst the discernible Start-Engine-Stop button looks like it's been nicked off a Ferrari, and that's no bad thing. Pushing it will fire up the V10, momentarily hitting 2,500 rpm and catching everyone's attention in the immediate vicinity, especially if the exhaust button below it has been previously fiddled with:
Audi Experience: Driving the R8 V10 Plus, RS7, RS6 & more-thumb_p1020740_1024.jpg

The drive-select knob allows you to cycle among various modes such as Comfort, Auto and Dynamic. Hit the button with the chequered flag and it pulls up a massive rev-counter in the virtual-cockpit-display and drowns out the other information - you're now in race-mode!
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This 31.2 cm TFT display, akin to the TT's, now replaces the cluster of conventional analogue dials. Audi calls it the virtual cockpit. It's user-configurable and allows you to toggle seamlessly between various displays (including navigation and stereo facilities) based on priority. Its driver-centric ethos is indisputable and stems from the virtual-cockpit in conjunction with the button-infested steering-wheel:
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One could alternatively use this rotatory dial and its integrated touch-pad to navigate the interface:
Audi Experience: Driving the R8 V10 Plus, RS7, RS6 & more-thumb_p1020729_1024.jpg

The dashboard wraps-around and converges cohesively with the door-card:
Audi Experience: Driving the R8 V10 Plus, RS7, RS6 & more-thumb_p1020731_1024.jpg

Sitting pretty and on display at the back of the 'Plus' is the Lamborghini-derived 5.2-litre, naturally aspirated V10 that howls all the way to 8,500 rpm and makes a stonking 600 horsepower just 250 revvs shy of the redline:
Audi Experience: Driving the R8 V10 Plus, RS7, RS6 & more-engine.jpg

The base V10 is down on power by 60 BHP, but I would imagine that 540 horses is more than sufficient for your indulgence. The outgoing R8's entry-level engine - the 4-litre V8, has been done away with for this generation and there is speculation that the car will receive a turbocharged V6 with a manual transmission in the foreseeable future.

Sharing its technical automobile platform with the Lamborghini Huracan, the R8 V10 Plus also benefits from an aluminium and carbon-fibre construction. The seven-speed S-Tronic gearbox works in conjunction with a revised Quattro system that employs an electro-hydraulically activated multi-plate clutch and a rear differential lock (phew!). All this electronic trickery is designed to send all (100%) of the power to either axle if and when required. Super cars like the R8 are, for all intents and purposes, hotbeds of technological innovations. It won't be long before some of this technology trickles down to the lesser cars in their portfolio.

Fun Fact: Incidentally, Audi also builds a full-blown GT3-class race car called the R8 LMS. Based on the same R8 platform, Audi uses LMS to compete in motorsport, and this race car makes a hundred fewer horses in order to comply with GT3 racing regulations.

Summoning 600 horses may sound daunting, but my grandmother could have launched this car and achieve the 260 km/h trap at the braking point! The RS6 Avant may have gotten close to that figure, but it's the manner in which the R8 gets to 260 km/h at the airstrip that is astonishing. While the RS6 literally shoves you into the seat and lunges forward violently, muscling its way through a flat torque-curve, the R8's smooth and linear power delivery catapults you with a surge that gets progressively more ferocious as the revvs reach its crescendo. The digital rev-counter flashes red as the needle approaches the redline, urging you to upshift. Watching the rpm needle fly to the business end of the rev-counter is a memory that I will take to my grave. The V10 Plus will find its way to 100 km/h from 0 in a measly 3.2 seconds and will go on to hit 330 km/h provided you don't run out of road. And if you do, the massive carbon-ceramic disc brakes, standard on the 'Plus', will anchor the car effectively.

Visualising stacks of expensive, insurance-related paper-work prompted me to hit the brakes as I watched the speedo briefly nudge 260 km/h and then fall at an alarming rate. Braking from 260 km/h in the R8 felt more controlled whilst the RS6 exhibited hints of nervousness under similar pedal applications. Given the punishment that they'd been put through, through the day, I'd say they performed marvellously. The car never seemed to lose its composure, even when I'd attempted to change direction quicker than advised. Experiencing lateral-Gs in this car would be quite the thrill.

Sports car manufacturers in recent times have opted to downsize their engines and add turbochargers in a bid to improve efficiency. Much to our delight, Audi has bucked that trend by retaining the naturally aspirated V10. Not that it matters, but the new R8 V10 is 13% more fuel-efficient than the outgoing car. This improvement in fuel economy is largely due to the cylinder-on-demand (COD) technology that deactivates 5 cylinders under normal driving conditions. The coasting mode and start-stop system also help conserve fuel. While the R8 is considered to be an everyday, practical super car in Europe and elsewhere, here in India, you will catch that nose if you're not extra careful. You will also have to crab it over nearly every single speed-breaker on the road.

With the introduction of the R8 V10, Audi's portfolio now has something for everyone. It had to be done, since both Mercedes-Benz and BMW have made available their line-up of performance cars. Even though taxes and duties continue to go skyward, it's a great time to be a well-heeled automobile enthusiast! God bless competition!

Disclaimer: Audi invited Team-BHP for The Audi Experience. They covered all the travel expenses for this driving event.

Last edited by Aditya : 3rd June 2016 at 12:05.
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Old 3rd June 2016, 12:10   #5
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Default re: Audi Experience: Driving the R8 V10 Plus, RS7, RS6 & more

Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to Test-Drives. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 3rd June 2016, 14:18   #6
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Default Re: Audi Experience: Driving the R8 V10 Plus, RS7, RS6 & more

Woah!
I still am out here with my mouth wide open! Amazing coverage, kudos!
How I wish you could throw in a few videos for us to see and essentially hear the mellodrama !
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Old 3rd June 2016, 15:22   #7
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Default Re: Audi Experience: Driving the R8 V10 Plus, RS7, RS6 & more

An excellent review and analysis as usual Suhaas sir.
Audi has done an excellent job by providing a wider range of supercars,something that other manufacturers seldom do.I am waiting for an all out, performance oriented, weekend supercar from them,but don't really think that this will happen,especially since Volkswagen has Lamborghini for those purposes.
By the way,can I borrow one of these pictures for my profile if you don't mind?
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Old 3rd June 2016, 16:21   #8
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Default Re: Audi Experience: Driving the R8 V10 Plus, RS7, RS6 & more

Quote:
Originally Posted by bhansali_hardik View Post
How I wish you could throw in a few videos for us to see and essentially hear the mellodrama !
Here is a Video which I have posted in my Thread I drove the Audi R8 V10 Plus on the Hosur Aerodrome!. There are some nice pictures as well !

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Old 3rd June 2016, 17:41   #9
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Default Re: Audi Experience: Driving the R8 V10 Plus, RS7, RS6 & more

Whoa, these cars are simply drool worthy!
Equally amazing is your writing style and coverage of the event. Kudos Suhaas

Unfortunately, this experience is not easily available, even if one is willing to shell out from pocket.
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Old 5th June 2016, 20:21   #10
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Default Re: Audi Experience: Driving the R8 V10 Plus, RS7, RS6 & more

Great thread ! It's nice to see a well written thread with pics to match ! Thanks for sharing - it is any motor enthusiasts dream
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Old 7th June 2016, 00:18   #11
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Default Re: Audi Experience: Driving the R8 V10 Plus, RS7, RS6 & more

Thanks for sharing! Looks like a fun event.

Out of my curiosity, how does one get invited to events like this? Particularly, if one is not a prospective customer for next couple of years.
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