A street car named desire

2009-09-18 14:00

ONCE in a while a machine will come into your life and make your heart stop or bring you back to life depending what your need is at that moment.

It could be a life-support machine in hospital or a beautiful beast on four wheels that makes time stand still as it passes you by on the road.

For an entire week getting out of bed was an exciting prospect, even before the sun was up. I would sing in the shower even though it was ice-cold outside, especially when the complex in which I live had been without electricity for five days.

I am a petrolhead by nature and I’m almost certain I have high-octane fuel running through my veins. I would come outside and stare at the beauty before me and then pinch myself to make sure it was not a dream.

And every morning I would tell myself out loud “Oh my gosh, there really is an Audi R8 V10 in my driveway!”

Sliding into the leather sport seat gives the feeling you are about to tear up the road. The car is so low it practically kisses the ground. So ­before you drive it, it already sets that Grand Prix atmosphere.

I did not have the opportunity to drive the previous model, the R8 4.2 FSI, so I was out of my skin with excitement when this baby arrived.

The attention the car draws can be overwhelming and the responses I got from all ages, genders and races were ­interesting to say the least.

From women giving me the thumbs up – I reckon because it was not a man behind the steering wheel – to racist insults, it is weird that a car can provoke so much emotion.

I wish I had R1.95 million to buy one for myself. The choice of colour would be my only problem. I do not know if I would opt for it in ibis white or phantom black like the one I tested.

Of course, I would also have to be able to afford the monthly insurance premiums and the bill for its 90-litre fuel tank.

Obviously this is not a practical, ever­yday city car simply because it is not the best car in which to be stuck in traffic, ­especially with its manual transmission. But who cares about that when you can afford it?

It feels like a racing car because of its hard clutch pedal and its fuel consumption. I found myself stuck in traffic one day and checked the ­fuel consumption reading – it was averaging 42.6 litres/100km.

With that said, when doing a ­constant speed of 120km/h on the highway it only uses about 10.2?litres/100km.

As much as it was a dream to drive, in some sense it was also torture. With a speedometer reading ­
350km/h, and a limited top speed of 316km/h it is a nightmare to try and keep the throttle at a law-abiding speed.

Having 386kW of power and 530Nm of torque at your control, it’s almost unbearable not to be permitted to push the V10 to its limits.

Besides the orgasmic drone of the engine, even at low revs, another ­favourite sound was the metal-on-metal, kachink-kachink sound the six-speed manual gear lever made every time I changed gears or even put the car into reverse.

Unlike most other cars, the gear lever and its casing are made of metal and are not covered in leather or material. Luckily I got a chance to put foot on the Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit and found the R8’s handling to be almost sheer perfection.
It hugs the tight bends and accelerates like a rocket with all the right sound to go with it.

I could probably write a book if I don’t stop now. Just in case anyone is looking for me, I’ll be in the queue at the shop around the corner buying a Lotto ticket.

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