The four circles never really did it for me. Bad design. Bad service. Bad re-sale. Bye Bye.
And even if perceptions are misguided, it’s not that easy to change them. Landing in Turkey you get nervous about a silver sleeve of Disprins even though Midnight Express hit the big screen exactly 30 years ago.
The sad truth is that Audi were the ugly ducklings of the German stable…if you’ll excuse the confused barnyard metaphors. Merc had reliability and authority, BMW had speed and style and Audi had…well somebody told me they were very safe.
So how come they are now boasting one of the best looking line-ups, from saloon hatchbacks to the most sought after exotic sports cars?
To be fair, it hasn’t happened overnight. The last decade and more has seen a remarkable shift in image with terms like “Quattro” being muttered with absolute reverence and stunning designs like the Q7 turning heads on and off the highway. But it’s the R8 V10 that has a mystique and elusive appeal all of its own and is turning heads all over Joburg.
Maybe it’s good marketing, maybe it’s because they can only turn out about 20 a day, but you feel like phoning a friend – in fact both of them – when you get behind the wheel of this mid-engined supercar.
You are immediately hit by the Monoposto. Fortunately it’s not painful or catching. It is what Audi call the cockpit design which has a cluster of instruments and controls wrapping around the driver.
And the driver, bless his cotton racing socks, can be a full two metres tall. This car was custom made for a long stretch of misery like myself.
And, sanity at last! No START button. A simple ignition key kickstarts a throaty rumble and gives the adrenalin an immediate boost.
Slam the gear shift into first along the “Racing for Dummies” aluminium gate and stand aside Lewis Hamilton. We’ll have you blithering through the chicane in no time. Yeah sure…fact is the R8 V10, despite hurtling you to a hundred in 3,9 seconds seconds, is smooth, comfortable and, most important, easy to drive.
And while I’m not one of those experts who can chirp on about understeer and high compression ratios, I can feel when those takkies are sticking to the tar. All thanks to Quattro all-wheel drive and a devilish system that ensures that no more than 30% of the power from those Lamborghini sourced 5.2 litres is dispatched to the front wheels.
The gleaming engine is proudly on display under a glass cover a la Ferrari. But the closest living relative is the Lamborghini Gallardo. Not too much of a crib since Audi owns Lambo.
But the R8 V10 is not a copy car. It is a super concoction of aluminium and carbon Sigma and along with a few stylish changes like those two big oval exhaust pipes, I see it as one of the best lookers around at any price.
It’s yours for R1 950 000. Join the queue.