Monday, December 17, 2007
Audi Driving Experience
I had a great time racing Audis on the track at the California Speedway in Fontana.
I got to Fontana early, but Google Maps gave me the wrong directions. It told me to make a right on a street that wasn't there or had its name changed. I finally arrived at the track, but the registration process seemed longer than other car shows. My friend, Josh, was going to go too, but he didn't want to take the risk of not getting in since he was wait-listed. Unlike at other cars I've been to, Audi seemed to be strict about registering. Otherwise, I don't think you could get in. Some people who were wait listed were put on the wait list for another time slot. That's why you have to register for the earliest time slot and get there real early.
I drove the S3, S4, A6, S5, A6, A8, Q7, and got to sit in the R8.
We were given a 30 minute classroom style lecture mixed in with some marketing speech about Audi's Quattro technology. The instructor talked about the Quattro All Wheel Drive technology and how Audi has achieved great success in racing with it. Audi was the first car manufacturer to put AWD in its production cars and race cars. They have won so many races that Audi was later banned from some races. He discussed front wheel drive, rear wheel drive, and all wheel drive handling characteristics. He explained weight transfer and its effects on handlig.
Then, we were split into 3 groups of about 7-9 people each. We went through an high speed accident avoidance course, which was a very quick lane change without braking. Next, we went into a course that helped us avoid accidents while heaving braking with ABS. Then, we went on a short autocross course.
Finally, we put on our balaclavas and helmets on to "race" around the track at the California Speedway. I chose the brand new 6 speed manual S5. It has a beautiful interior and can challenge the M3 coupe. We followed the instructor who drove the RS4. We followed closely behind each other on the twisty track, but I wish we could have gone faster. I wanted to pass, but I didn't want to get yelled at for putting other newbies at risk.
There were some light refreshments and drinks.
They made us do a short exit survey on an Apple iPod.
The great thing about this show was that there was no waiting in lines at all like in other test drive car shows. That was due to the fact that there were strict about only allowing people who pre-registered.
The beautiful S5 is fast and handles really well. You can adjust the engine, steering and suspension from its MMi on board screen, which is like BMW's iDrive system. There are 27 different settings you can make by adjusting from comfort to auto to dynamic.
The S5 doesn't have a handbrake, but has a one button switch. I'm not sure if you can use it if you want to drift.
I think Audi's have the best interiors. It also has an awesome Bang & Olufsen sound system. The S5 has a lane assist feature where a small camera reads the lines from the lanes and sends the info to its computer system. It warns you if you veer off the lane if you don't signal.
Unfortunately, I didn't get to drive the R8 supercar. That car is so fast and the engine melody is better than anything you can hear from its stereo. It has no body roll when it tracks the corners.
I was so good during instruction that I didn't get to drive as much. I only got about 2 turns each at each course. Other people who weren't as good and who kept messing up went again and again to improve.
Each car show I go to, I get impressed with their cars. Audi seems to be really cool. The only thing is that it's not as reliable as Japanese cars generally.