The entire range of Audi cars on sale in India and an airstrip sounds like a fantastic combination, which turned real a few days back at Hosur, Karnataka. At the event, Audi also launched the new R8 V10 Plus and gave us an opportunity to drive it as well. Key takeaway for us was the ability to assess the versatility of quattro in a controlled environment, right from a luxury sedan to a supercar. Here's our detailed report from the first of its kind Audi Range Drive, which was split into three parts – Sportscar experience, A Drive and Q Drive.
AUDI R8 V10 PLUS LAUNCH & DRIVE
Audi India had its entire fleet of vehicles on sale in India lined-up at the Hosur airstrip, but the highlight was the launch of the R8 V10 Plus at ' 2.6 cr, ex-showroom, Karnataka and its drive later in the day. The new R8 V10 Plus is powered by a naturally-aspirated 5.2 FSI Quattro V10 mid-engine with a power output of 610 hp. In addition, the new model uses a more advanced mix of materials, making it lighter than the earlier generation of the R8. As a result, the R8 can now propel from a standstill to 100 km/h in just 3.2 s and continue to its top speed of 330 km/h.
What really sets the R8 V10 Plus apart is its naturally-aspirated engine that stands out in a sea of turbocharged vehicles. On the airstrip, the benefit of this configuration was clear as the R8 didn't have any of the lag associated with the turbo vehicles down in the rev band. Off the line, the R8 accelerated with ferocity and precision as Quattro ensured that all of the power being generated was used for launching the vehicle ahead and not spinning the wheels. Since space was limited on the airstrip, we managed a top speed of 252 km/h but even at that speed the R8 was accelerating without any signs of power fade.
Gear shifts were quick as the seven-speed S tronic transmission made use of shift-by-wire technology, which means shift signals are relayed through electronic sensors and does not involve any conventional cables. Braking from high-speed was a confident affair as the ceramic brake discs kept brake fade away despite the cars making constant runs in the hands of different journalists. Since there were no turns available to test the handling capabilities of the car at the airstrip, we'll provide more insight into the vehicle and its technologies once the car becomes available at a later stage to us.
The most popular attraction after the R8 V10 Plus drive for most journalists turned out to be the Q Drive, wherein we drove the Q3, Q5 and the new Q7 on a purpose-built off-roading track. The track was well-designed and involved some obstacle, which put the quattro technology and driver skills to test. At times, the vehicles were subjected to situations, where at least one wheel had no contact with the surface and the second wheel was bordering on the lines of losing traction. It was in such situations that the Quattro stepped in with its ability to transfer power to the wheels with traction, which helped the Q range overcome the obstacles.
Quattro has been an evolving technology since its inception and is configured differently in every Audi car. While on the Q range of vehicles, it is aimed at maximising grip to get out of low-traction spots, in the R8 V10 Plus, it's designed to offer better handling at higher speeds. The regular quattro distributes power at a ratio of 40:60 between the front and rear axles. Should it become necessary, this differential can send as much as 60 % of torque to the front and as much as 80 % to the rear. On the R8 V10 Plus, the core of the quattro is a viscous coupling at the front axle that includes a package of plates that rotate in a viscous fluid. The coupling normally sends about 15 % of the power to the front and up to 30 %, if needed.
During the A drive, we were asked to drive any of the cars from the A range back and forth a winding road leading to a lake. The numerous bends and corners on this 16 km road highlighted the versatility of the quattro technology. We drove an A8 through this road and were impressed at the ability of the quattro to ensure something as big and heavy as the A8 dialled-in effortlessly into turns and exited with aplomb. The only disappointment here was the steering, which felt artificially-weighed with very little feedback.
The Range Drive organised by Audi India for the media turned out to be a nice attempt at showcasing their entire range of cars and technologies. The star of the show was the R8 V10 Plus, which in its older form was already one of the largest selling supercars in the country. In its more powerful, lighter and smarter new version it seems logical that the new R8, also the fastest Audi ever, will continue from where its older sibling left. In addition, we also got to experience the turbocharged engines of the brand on the RS7 and RS6 Avant. In a nutshell, Audi India did what one would expect a leading luxury carmaker to do – celebrate the acceptance of the brand in under 10 years in the country. And it surely did that in style.
Text: Arpit Mahendra