Audi Driving (Unforgettable) Experience
Die deutsche Übersetzung gibt es hier
Early morning a short while ago, I found myself at the Audi Driving Experience Center in Neuburg an der Donau, watching a lonely Formula E car do some practice driving around the circuit, and enjoying the complementary coffee and Brezn.
I was there thanks to an invitation by Audi Zentrum Landshut (regular viewers may start to see a pattern), looking forward to a day of driving, some of it fast.
After some introductory lessons about basics like just how awesome the R8 is, and how to drive properly, we went straight to the dynamic driving area.
In a move almost cliché for the brand, we started with a lesson on understeer.
Of course, everybody knows oversteer is best, because you don’t see the tree that kills you. But, not today.
The recipe was simple: accelerate the new RS3 as hard as possible until hitting a patch of wet(ted) tarmac, steer left all the way and watch the car drive straight ahead.
Don’t watch for too long, there are cones and even a guard rail coming, so go off the throttle, dial back on the steering (bit counter-intuitive if what you want is go around the corner), and suddenly the tires will have grip again, you will go round the bend without hitting anything and exit the course to cheers and applause from the crowd, followed by champagne and crowning as Audi Driver of the year.
Okay, usually we hit at least a few cones, got some wise remarks from the instructor and there was never any champagne…
Afterwards, we got three cylinders more, lots of cargo space and night vision. In the form of the RS6. Now, we could really start racing…in a straight line, for about three seconds, before braking and evading to avoid hitting the Wall Of Cones™.
Pro-tip: try not to hit the brake and gas pedals at the same time.
A short break later, we went back to the dynamic driving area, to drive the RS3 and RS6 through a (still wet) course made up of cones. To add some challenges, everybody then had a go with the RS3 through the same course, setting a timed lap.
Again, cheers, champagne, crowning…would have been possible, but a congratulatory handshake was what’s offered to the fastest of us. Which is okay, because it wasn’t me.
Emerging from lunch as fully accomplished race drivers, we would now be humbled by the R8 V10 Plus on the handling course.
To make matters a bit more exciting, mother nature decided to add some spice to the event. Where “spice” means “rain”.
Promptly, I went into the gravel.
The exercise consisted of splitting the course in two parts, learning each part by driving behind an instructor in an R8 GT “Safety Car”. Each drive consisted of a very slow lap to learn the course, then the instructor would go faster and faster, watching you struggle to stay close in the mirror while nonchalantly using one hand for steering, one hand for talking smack about your driving into his walkie-talkie.
Having learned each part, we were let lose on the whole 3.4 kilometres long track, again behind the safety car, again struggling to keep up.
Though of course, I (and all other participants you ask) would have won that race, but overtaking was generally not allowed. No fair!
The day concluded with the celebratory handing over of a certificate showing that we participated in this course, which should come in handy next time the police stops me (I mean…someone else…) doing 130kph in an 80 zone. “But I am a race driver, Sir, look here!”
A few more comments and thanks later, we were back on the road, trying to stay calm doing 55 on the Landstrasse behind a Fiat Panda. Talk about a contrast experience.
A heart-felt thank you goes, again, to the good folks at Audi Zentrum Landshut for inviting me to this event, the instructors and other personnel at Neuburg for making it unforgettable, everybody who made the R8 possible (god this thing is great!) and to Johannes B., who went with me in all the cars that day, sometimes driving himself, sometimes filming my struggle to drive.
Speaking of filming, there is also video. For proof.