Right after the excitement of Zerotohundred‘s very own TTA#3, we headed back to Sepang, having been invited by Audi for their Driving Experience 2012. The event spanned four days with participation strictly invite-only, spread between Audi’s customers and select members of the media. And laid out on track for us to test were some of Ingolstadt’s finest: a fleet of S6, S7, and S8 along with an R8GT, R8GT Spider and TT-RS pace cars.
We headed for the Paddock Club first, where we had our share of lunch and received our driver’s briefings. Although it was a searing hot day, there were heavy clouds that loomed in the back and it was clear from everyone’s faces that we were keen to start the day. As the number of participants was fairly big, we were divided into several smaller groups of between 10-12 people, with each group partaking in a different set of activities.
The three Audi S-models laid before us were all powered by a 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8. In the S6 and S7, power figures were 420PS/550Nm, whilst the S8 received a healthier 520PS/650Nm. Having had a busy schedule over the past few months, I walked in to the Audi Driving Experience 2012 without doing any prior research, so I didn’t really expect the cars to carry so much power. As standard, all three cars came equipped with Audi’s signature Quattro all-wheel drive system which gifted the cars with enormous grip and incredible poise.
Unfortunately, we were unable to sample all the S-models due to time constraints and I ended up being behind the wheels of first an S6 for a slalom course, then an A4 1.8T (we were too slow getting into an available S7) and an S8 through various parts of Sepang. The entire fleet of S-models were flown in from Audi AG in Germany, and were all in LHD guise. We’ve tested the A4 before (read our review here) so we sort of knew what to expect, but the S6 and S8 were certainly eye-openers. Whilst the S6 provided some drama with its nose lifting slightly at full-throttle, it was perhaps the S8 that was the most memorable: 3.9 seconds in the Zerotohundred sprint, with oodles of grip and well contained body-roll across the apexes of Sepang, that left me wishing I had more time in it.
The bad news is that Audi has no plans whatsoever to bring these models in to Malaysia any time soon. We’re told that these cars run on higher grade petrol, but we also know that these cars can be tuned (like most things these days, via computer software) to run on the fuel quality we have here, much like how the local R8s are set-up. Nevertheless, it was a fantastic experience overall and we’re thankful that Audi Malaysia invited us to their Driving Experience 2012; after-all, what better way is there to end our 2012?