Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Audi Driving Experience

This year's Audi Driving Experience was much better than last year's. Instead of just one measly lap around the race track, we were able to drive about 3.75 laps around the Auto Club Speedway track with the new 2009 Audi A4's. Also, we were able to drive around an autocross track in the parking lot with the A4's along with their direct competitors: the BMW 328xi, Lexus IS250 AWD, and Mercedes C300 4Matic AWD. Last year, we just drove the Audi line-up around the autocross track. It was kinda chaotic because you have to quickly get in and get out of the cars so that everyone can get a turn driving the cars within the short time allotted. This year seemed better organized.

They split the group into 2 different autocross tracks while another group got to drive around the Speedway Track where some NASCAR races are held.

One track went clockwise while another clock went counter-clockwise. I liked the counter-clockwise course better. It seemed better laid out. I had no problem on that one and was able to drift around the first big turn.

The clockwise track was a different story. This course seemed to be laid out entirely wrong. The turns were just not proportioned properly for great drifts. I love stomping on the gas pedal and really making the cars scream out in pain. Unfortunately, when I was driving the BMW, I mashed the throttle trying to drift around the last turn but the car understeered horribly into the cones. I got a scolding by one of the instructors. Hopefully, I'll be invited back next year.

All the cars were All Wheel Drive (AWD) so that we can compare the Audi Quattro system to the competition. The Mercedes C300 4Matic was last place in my book because of the soft suspension. The car seemed to fishtail around corners. The Lexus IS 250 AWD was 3rd. They should have had the IS 350, but they said that would make it much more expensive. So, we got the underpowered IS 250 which was sluggish getting to the first major turn. In 2nd place was the BMW 328xi. It was excellent handling (except for the part when it understeered into the cones), but the Audi A4 Quattro performed the best. Their new Audi Drive Select System is awesome. You can select between comfort, auto, and dynamic. It can also automatically sense changes to your driving and accommodate the input accordingly. You can also manually change individual settings like accelerator response, shift points for the automatic transmission, amount of power steering assistance, steering ratio, the electronically adjustable shock absorbers, and a number of other chassis settings just like in a race car. There is a ton of technology packed into this car. The new 2009 model looks elegant on the outside, and I still think that Audi's have the best looking interiors out of all the other manufacturers.

The Audi A4's handled pretty well along the Speedway track. I love the way it handled. If only I could have driven the RS4 or the R8. That would have been awesome.

After driving the awesome new A4's around the track, we were able to sign up to drive a different car from Audi's line-up. I was able to drive the TT and the A3.

I had an absolute blast drifting around the turns in the TT. That little sports car is a ton of fun to drive. The track was just perfect for testing out the handling capabilities of the car. About 4 cars followed closely behind the instructor in a paceline. The TT was just so nimble I was able to flick it around turns and mash the throttle for some drifting action. The A3 was pretty good too for a station wagon. I'm sorry I think it likes to be called a sport wagon, especially since it was Audi's S-line, which is their sporty line.

This was definitely a fun event to go to especially for car maniacs such as myself. Last year, I was able to drive the S5. The new 2009 A4 looks like it was modeled after the A5/S5 except with 4 doors. I can't wait for next year.


Lois Grebowski said...

David, that looks like tons of fun... a fast car on a track...and German engineering. TOTALLY COOL!

I'll have to think about an Audi when my 328 wears out...LOL!

David Kim said...

Enjoy your BMW 328. The BMW 3 series is the second highest rated car on Car & Driver's Magazine Top 10 list. It's been on the Top 10 List more than any other car, except for my Honda Accord. Ha ha!