Hard attack on the track

The Audi driving experience centre in Neuburg an der Donau, Germany.
The Audi driving experience centre in Neuburg an der Donau, Germany.PHOTO: AUDI

The home of Audi Sport is the place to go full throttle in a 610bhp R8

In Germany for a business meeting or holiday? Have a spare day? You could do some sightseeing, maybe unwind at a cafe. Or you could bomb around a racetrack in a 610bhp supercar in Neuburg an der Donau, where the headquarters of Audi Sport is located.

At the Audi driving experience centre, there is a menu of different styles in various Audi models.

I choose a face-warping track attack in the brand-new Audi R8 V10 Plus for €430 (S$653).

At 47ha, the facility contains an off-road course, a road circuit and a huge, flat skidpan continually watered by nozzles in the ground.

My first stop is the skidpan - an open expanse of watered tarmac where cones mark out a slalom course.

Guided by professional trainers, I cycle through the drive modes to tease out grip levels and discover how the R8 behaves differently in each setting.

I find the R8 a triumph that is made of not just steel, aluminium, carbon-fibre and composites, but also silicon.

A massive amount of robotic thinking goes on under the skin to distribute torque and vary electronic intervention.

Different selectable drive modes govern the computers' bias, including Comfort, Auto, Dynamic, Individual and Performance, within which there are further sub-modes for dry, wet and snow.

During my 20 minutes on the skidpan, I discover the car's boundaries in an intuitive way.

The next stop is the track, which presents a newfound appreciation for the relationship among grip, power and steering.

An instructor leads me around, upping the pace with each lap and dispensing tips and instructions via a radio as he watches me in the rear-view mirror trying to keep up.

While I am there, I find myself driving as hard as I dare to, nerve endings singing and alive in the glorious business of pitting the R8's abilities against my courage. No prizes for guessing who won, but I did attain 200kmh more than once.

The Audi R8 V10 Plus is an excellent car for a beginner at track driving. It is a ballistic supercar that enables drivers of all skill levels to get in and drive to their capabilities. So progressive, forgiving and communicative are the drivetrain and chassis that they telegraph a loss of control just a split second in advance, so you can catch yourself.

You never truly know a car until you have pushed it hard on a circuit.

And you never truly know your driving skills until you cause one of the most sure-footed cars ever made to skid and knock down cones while an angry German instructor screams in your ear.

More than just being fun, this experience will make you a slightly better driver, be it on a circuit or road.

Should that not be enticing enough, the facility is accessible via a stretch of unrestricted autobahn.

•The writer contributes to Torque, a motoring monthly published by SPH Magazines.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 21, 2017, with the headline 'Hard attack on the track'. Print Edition | Subscribe