Audi's annual automotive extravaganza is back again, but there is just something different about it this year. The Audi Driving Experience programme is no longer just, well, the Audi Driving Experience. It is now known as the Audi Sport Driving Experience and that 'Sport' has made all the difference indeed.
Riding on the belief that driving is more than just the car itself, this year's Audi Sport Driving Experience 2016 (#ASDE16) promises to bring an emotional, thrilling ride to drivers and participants. There are also cold, hard facts to back this promise. Audi has introduced a heart rate monitoring station where drivers get strapped up with a monitoring device before hitting the road. Most drivers return to find that they have registered a significant increase in their heart rate.
Participants at the event also get to test up to ten different Audi models across various stations, including the likes of the brand new A4, TT Roadster, RS3 Sportback, S3 Sportback and the Q range of SUVs. Judging by the general buzz at the media reception, everyone wanted a piece of Audi's highly anticipated R8 Coupé, which came as no surprise when it stole the show.
Going full throttle on the new R8
A train of red and white R8 Coupés were lined up in the expansive halls of Changi Exhibition Point and we were asked to take our pick. It was a sight to behold. The new R8 coupe was styled beautifully, its low-slung stance and wide hexagonal grilles hinting at the monstrous performance it was capable of. Heart rates flared just as the naturally aspirated V10 plus engines did when the red ignition button on the racing-inspired wheel was pushed. The R8 entourage then rolled out of the halls and onto the circuit track, led by an instructor who paced the rest in tow.
As the driver who opted for the last car in the formation, I had the luxury of creating space and then smashing the accelerator down to the floor. The numbers don't lie; the R8 units had its engine enhancement option checked and the V10 plus boasts 610hp worth of horsepower, which means it can power from 0 to 100km/h in a scary 3.2 seconds. When it does, the deep, snarling throttle was every inch as sexy as the supercar. The 'race circuit', demarcated by cones, was nothing like what you'll find at the F1 Grand Prix or Le Mans, and a passing storm had worsened conditions for the R8 to unleash its fury. My car skidded on more than one occasion. However, thanks to its advanced Quattro tech, it seemed to take on a life of its own to launch itself firmly back on track and pounce for the finishing line ahead.
For those who have reservations about handling the high-revving R8, a request for a 'taxi ride' can be made. The instructor would then strap you in the sports bucket seat and take you out to demonstrate drifts on the track.
Going beyond the driver's seat
After getting behind the wheel of the new Audi A4 and embarking on the Urban Drive towards the makeshift speedsters' playground that is Changi Exhibition Point, the lifestyle elements surrounding Audi were evident: Shiny new Samsung Galaxy S7s lined the tech booth alongside Audi merchandise while the tea reception served delectable sliders and macarons. Being characteristically German about things, Audi has brought their fixation on numbers and automotive technology into their latest sports cars, but on the broader horizon, what Audi really wants drivers to do is embrace their brand of living. The Audi Sport Driving Experience gives a sneak peek into exactly that. Audi car owners can access the 'myAudiworld' club, which opens doors to exclusive privileges not limited to overseas driving exercises, gourmet dining and luxury holiday stays.
The Audi Sport Driving Experience 2016 is taking place now until 22 May 2016. Tickets are priced at S$250 per driver on weekdays and S$300 on weekends.
About Nicholas Tse
Wordsmith by day, wannabe vigilante by night. Occasional speedster, 24/7 snazzy dresser. Aspiring best-selling novelist on weekends. The only things Nicholas loves more than the written word are fast cars, Nespresso machines and denim. Follow his adventures on Facebook and Instagram.