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Standing on three pillars - Audi pushes sporty feel

Published:Sunday | December 23, 2012 | 12:00 AM
The R8 is the latest sport offering from Audi and is set to raise the brand's bar even higher. - Photo by Christopher Serju
These two drivers make a safety check before setting off in the Audi S-6 - Photo by Christopher Serju

Christopher Serju, Automotives Writer

Performance, luxury and use are the three design pillars on which Audi has built its success, testing technological advances on the race track before incorporating them in its street-car production range. What this means is that what Audi offers as a regular vehicle will, in fact, have many practical elements of a sport design.

At the top of its performance portfolio pyramid is Audi Sports, which has had a long and successful history in motorsports, especially in rally racing and at Le Mans. This allows the brand to test the many innovations before choosing what to incorporate in the product portfolio of regular Audi cars.

For example, FSI (fuel stratified injection) technology was first tested at Le Mans and Quattro in world rally racing.

Audi recently gave journalists from Latin America and the Caribbean the opportunity to test four of its latest offerings, the R8 sports car, and the S6, S7, and S8, which took regular driving beyond anything Automotives has ever experienced. Of course, there is nothing regular about test-driving each of these vehicles on a closed track at the Palm Beach International Raceway in Miami, Florida.

Super car

In the technical presentation before the journalists took to the track, one Audi official put things into perspective, explaining that the S models are high-performance sports cars but street-legal. He described the R8 as a unique, no-compromise, progressive supercar made by Quattro GMBH, which is a subsidiary of Audi HG.

To read about these cars and run your hand over the glossy pictures in a magazine and dream about seeing one is something. To drive not just one, but all four, in one day was the experience of a lifetime.

Automotives started with the S7 and watched in amazement and fear as the Audi representative took the car through its paces, the passenger's proverbial 'brake foot' welded to the floor as he calmly explained that he had been racing for some 30 years. But it was the other information he shared which made the difference when Automotives took the controls. Like the importance of taking the left-hand as corner wide as possible then cutting very close to the curve for the right-hand turn, letting out the throttle full blast as we entered the straight. Each car had a different tutor who shared new information.

Looking at the Audi performance portfolio as a pyramid, at the top is the Audi Sport. Right below Audi Sport is the R8. Then follow the S models. As performance vehicles they have differentiated interior and exterior and easily distinguished from the regular Audi models and the A models.

And, in order to provide a feeling of exclusivity and customisation in regular A models, Audi also has cars which look like S models, which are basically interior and exterior packages, little but modified the regular A models.