For about 30 hours of my existence, I lived the life of a millionaire. Or at least drove a car that any self-respecting millionaire would have in his garage. The Audi R8 is the flagship sports car of the famous German automaker and is its pride and glory. As Audi’s senior public relations manager Nian Tjoe told me, “The Ferraris and Lamborghinis you see on the roads are their, you could say, entry-level cars while the R8 is the pinnacle of Audi’s research and development.”
I was just really looking forward to revving the engine.
Now, there is no elegant way to get into the Audi R8 due to the opening radius of the car doors. The big doors are not made for multi-storey carparks so getting into the driver’s seat requires an extremely careful balancing act. Slip and you might accidentally push the R8’s door wide enough to hit the car that’s parked beside you. Fall and you might scuff the interior of the R8. Both accidents require the networth and resources of a millionaire to fix; I was merely a pauper in the Emperor’s borrowed clothes.
I wore tight jeans the day I picked up the R8. It was not a good idea. If you’re planning to pick up your female companion in the R8, tell her to wear pants or nice underwear because the world will be getting a glimpse.
Attention Seeking Engine
Speaking of the world, many, many people will judge you. The first time I drove into an open-air carpark in crowded Bugis, I could feel everyone’s eyes in the vicinity on me, trying to figure out the person driving the Audi R8. Some might like the attention; I was just trying to get out without ripping my jeans.
The V10 naturally aspirated (what a rare sight!) petrol engine will either be the sexiest purrs you’ve ever heard or a rather annoying petrol orchestra. But it will, without a doubt, get stares of envy or disgust. One man actually came up to me after I revved into a carpark and parked into a lot in one try (the wide butt can be tricky to manoeuvre). I had seen him looking at the car when I was idling at the traffic light just before the entrance into the carpark.
“Nice car. How does it drive?” he commented.
“Like a dream.”
“Is it easy to drive a car like this around Singapore?”
“Yes, surprisingly. It’s the kind of car I would drive up to Malaysia or to the supermarket,” I replied.
“Can we go for a ride?”
That’s why you should never talk to strangers, kids.
I sped away from there faster than the R8 speeds to 100 kph – 3.5 seconds, if you’re wondering.
Making Excuses to Drive the R8
Back at the office, I was offering to drive anyone who needed to head out of the office for a bit, even if it was to the nearest McDonald’s, which was 400 metres away.
I even asked a colleague out for ice cream nearby just so I could drive the Audi R8. Needless to say, very little work was done in that 30 hours, which speaks volumes of the daily driveability of the car. The engine is made for endurance driving. After all, that’s where Audi made its mark – in endurance races. So it’s just as competent at low speeds as it is at illegal ones.
Now, this is the part where I tell you that the Audi R8 has incredible handling but really, you wouldn’t expect anything less from the best car in Audi’s stable. I should also be telling you about the amazing detail that Audi has put into the virtual cockpit. Everything from navigation to the amount of G-force you’re experiencing from all sides is available with a few quick swipes of the button. But that too should be expected from the German masters.
No, what I really want to tell you about is the sheer joy I got from driving the R8. Forget the attention, the impressive design and the fast paddle shifting drivetrain. To me, a car in Singapore, unfortunately, has become something of a headache sometimes. The traffic jams, carpark queues and other niggling annoyances has honestly made me resort to getting a Grab or an Uber numerous times, even when I could drive.
But each time I approach the R8, car keys in hand, I always like a kid again, returning to his favourite toy in the cupboard. Then as I slide unceremoniously into the seat and press the Start button, the engine will roar to life. And without fail, every single time, a wide grin emerges. My mouth now hurts from 30 hours of smiling.