This Week’s Test Car

Audi R8 Spyder V10 5.2 FSI Quattro S tronic

We all know it has ‘similarities’ with a particular Lamborghini (tested here next) but the R8 is every inch a supercar in its own right – and costs £50k less at around £130,000 too. Our base 540 PS V10 has the smaller output of the two V10 engine units, the other being the 610 PS V10 Plus. It will still rocket to 60mph in 3.6 seconds and has a top speed just shy of 200mph. Combined consumption is 32.1mpg but you will do well to get anywhere near that! It’s loud, it’s lovely and it’s also very easy to drive. Join us for a week in the R8 Spyder…

Enjoy the highway while you can – the smart roads are coming

I’ll tell you what’s sad about driving in the 21st century – the opportunities to actually enjoy a high performance car like the R8 Spyder are few and far between.

It’s Monday and I’ve just hacked 95 miles back from the Peak District in the Audi. I know what the engine can do, I’ve experienced the quattro handling before.

Yet I might as well have been in a Ford Focus. Seriously, there was NOWHERE I could give that V10 a prod. I’m starting to realise that I was lucky to have learnt to drive in the 1980s.

Which then makes me wonder, what is the point of fabulous cars like this? Where can we enjoy a McLaren, a Lamborghini, or even a lowly Mini Cooper S for that matter?

Soon, all our highways will be ‘smart’ roads and the fun will be gone for good. Enjoy it while you can, people…

 

‘Hurrah for the Audi R8 Spider’ cried Mr Toad

It’s that time of year when a gentleman’s thoughts turn to a pretty little convertible. You know the kind of thing – leather seats, lashings of power and a jolly loud exhaust.

Well, the R8 Spyder has all of those and more. Hurrah! I hear you say. And indeed you would be right. Except this particular Audi is a thoroughly modern monster that won’t take kindly to any thoughts by you of lifting the engine cover.

This a car absolutely loaded with technology. From the ten-cylinder engine squeezed in behind the driver’s head, to the virtual dashboard that feeds info on everything.

And I mean everything. There’s no centre infotainment screen you see, so getting the steering wheel adjustment just right is crucial, especially if you need to follow the sat nav.

Fortunately, there are no silly indicator switches on the steering wheel, like the Lamborghini – and the exhaust is only mad loud when you slip into sport mode.

I loved the R8 last time I drove it – I’m looking forward to another romance this week…

The sensational Porsche 911 Turbo S – but would I buy one?

You might think a £150,000 supercar branded Porsche would inspire a gush of words about the wonders of handling and performance.

The 911 Turbo is a brilliant driving machine. It does everything you expect and more – with a sensational 3.8 six-cylinder engine at its heart.

Virtually faultless but would I buy one? Despite its range of abilities and everyday usability (you can even squeeze a couple of child seats in the back!), the answer is no.

Quite simple, the 911 just doesn’t ‘move’ me like a McLaren or a Lamborghini Huracan – even the overlooked Audi R8 has more soul. I know each of those cars have their flaws but they come with the character and panache that has been squeezed out of the Porsche range in recent years.

If flat out performance is your mantra, the 911 should be top of your wish list. I’d rather arrive a few minutes later in a car worth more than the sum of its parts…

The Porsche 911 Turbo S will fit you like a well-used glove

Anyone who drove a Porsche 911 Turbo back in the 1970s will remember it as a no compromise beastie. The coupe has been evolving constantly since then into this latest 2017 model.

A consummate performer, it has also morphed into the most straightforward of everyday supercars. We will be testing the Audi R8 and McLaren 540 over the next month – both are brilliant but neither can match the Turbo S for everyday stuff, like popping down the shops for a few bags of shopping.

I’d say the rear-end os nowhere near as attractive as the McLaren or the Audi but as a piece of engineering, the Turbo S gets an A Star. It has a commanding, if understated presence on the road that I’ve only ever experienced in a Rolls-Royce.

Sure, there’s a lot of tyre noise from those 20-inch wheels and I’ve moaned about the infotainment system still lagging behind the best.

Otherwise, this is a very special, if conservative supercar that will fit you like a well-used glove…

Porsche 911 Turbo S – if you want bling buy a Lamborghini

Seems odd that the interior of the Turbo S feels little different to that of the ‘standard’ 911. I suppose if you want bling there is always the Lamborghini Huracan – to be tested here next month.

The dashboard of the Porsche is just about perfect. Every button and dial is within easy reach and has a premium brand feel. Not sure why the chrono clock is still fitted – totally pointless.

The new infotainment system has a clearer screen but still lags behind that offered by Audi or BMW in most of their cars. Why is that?

I also find the electric seat adjustment very slow – and if you use the memory option, manual reading is required to ensure the seat is where it should be when you get in. Usually it has returned to somebody else’s settings.

The Porsche 911 Turbo S – does more than charm the pants off your girlfriend

Now, if you’re reading this, you already know the latest Turbo S is one of the best performance coupes out there. For 2017, power and fuel economy are up, there are some lighting tweaks front and rear, and, thankfully, the infotainment system is easier to understand (well, slightly easier).

But what some lucky people with enough cash to buy one don’t perhaps know is that the Turbo S is as user-friendly as an everyday boring car, like a Skoda Fabia.

In ‘normal’ drive model, the S just tootles along at a sensible pace, with no comedy roar from the quad pipes, no high drama. It is, good people, just as easy to live with as a Golf R.

And this, I think, is the mark of a great supercar. A machine that will thrill the pants off your girlfriend but also get you to and from the supermarket with the minimum of stress.

Lovely…

Are you bling enough to drive the Honda Civic Type-R?

It might come down to whether you like wearing jewellery or not; if you prefer bright shirts to plain; whether a personal number plate is high on your list of priorities – if you want an in your face car or not.

The difference between the Golf R and the Civic Type-R is massive. Both offer startling performance – the Golf is more refined – but they couldn’t be more different cars.

The Honda just shouts ‘look at me’, all those spoilers, bling red touches and mad styling. The VW is more restrained, under the wire, restrained.

Reviewers will prattle on about the subtleties of performance and handling but you really have to decide which kind of person you are first before considering the rest…