COAST­ING ALONG WITH A STABLE OF THOR­OUGH­BREDS

Heads turn when a con­voy of qual­ity ma­chines hits the high­way for a spin

Geelong Advertiser - Motoring - - GEELONG - WITH CAM WARD

LAST month I was lit­er­ally feel­ing a mil­lion dol­lars. Not just feel­ing, I got to sit in it and drive goodly por­tion of around the Ot­ways.

Wel­come world of the high­end day.

When Rex Gorell group of­fered me a chance take part, I agreed quicker than you could say BMW M5. Well, al­most.

That’s how I came to be in a con­voy, the likes of which is rarely seen on Gee­long roads.

In no par­tic­u­lar or­der, the start­ing grid was Audi R8, Audi TT, Audi Q3 RS,

S3, F-Type R Jaguar, Jaguar XE, BMW M4, BMW M5, BMW M640,

650, Range Rover SV Au­to­bi­og­ra­phy and Sport.

Prices for the Audis alone, col­lec­tively, start from $500,000 plus on-road costs.

And on a $279,000 R8 you can add near enough to $70,000 in on-road costs be­fore you fac­tor in the op­tions. Wel­come to be­spoke driv­ing and world of lux­ury car tax. Time con­straints meant I could not sam­ple all mo­tor­ing plea­sures on of­fer in day.

You would have needed the best part a week to do them all any jus­tice, ad­just­ing nu­ances each has, lis­ten­ing en­gine note.

And, the case of at least one M-se­ries Beemer, be­ing told just what se­quences but­tons and levers needed be pushed or ad­justed to (a) get car started; (b) get it mov­ing for­ward.

Thus, my ob­ser­va­tions are re­stricted largely to the Audi R8 RSQ3, BMW M4 and M640 and the Range Rover Sport.

First im­pres­sions? Th­ese cars that de­mand your full at­ten­tion. One driver said the Audi R8 was “as tight as a drum”, say­ing he’d never driven some­thing so re­spon­sive to slight­est tweak of the steer­ing wheel.

And this on Princes High­way head­ing out Gee­long around 10am a wet day — definitely kind of con­di­tions when you’d want your wits about you, es­pe­cially when pi­lot­ing ve­hi­cle with top speed 300km/h and ca­pa­ble go­ing from 0-100km/h in just over four sec­onds. Both the R8 F-Type were

of putting up those num­bers. To achieve that, R8’s 4.2-litre V8 petrol en­gine and all-wheel drive com­bines with a me­chan­i­cal dif­fer­en­tial lock, trac­tion con­trol two elec­tro-hy­drauli­cally con­trolled multi-plate clutches in an oil bath. The Jag opts for 5.0-litre

su­per­charged V8

petrol power plant that can de­liver 404kW and 680Nm.

The sec­ond im­pres­sion was the day’s au­to­mo­tive stable did not nec­es­sar­ily ex­ude ex­pense to the de­gree you might oth­er­wise as­so­ciate with their price tags.

Granted R8 F-Type looked ex­otic, but in a kind of un­der­stated way.

(That said, there are not too many cars whose en­gines vis­i­ble through clear cover at the back the ve­hi­cle. The R8’s was.)

only ob­vi­ous give­away to ca­sual ob­server might have been that

car­bon fi­bre leather ra­tio was well up.

In­side, it’s not all burr wal­nut and sofa-like seat­ing.

The F-Type’s seats were more like rac­ing ones, curv­ing around to hug your body. They sup­port­ive rather than sump­tu­ous.

On the other hand, the M640’s seats would not have been out of place in a high-end club.

And news that one the Range Rovers came with seat mas­sage op­tion spread through crowd like wild­fire.

Cars like M5 at full throt­tle are not for the faint-hearted, as I over­heard more than one driver say on day (I am para­phras­ing their slightly “earthy” com­ments). But raw power is tem­pered by some re­mark­able tech­nol­ogy.

BMW has seat­belts that au­to­mat­i­cally tighten to hold you snug in your seat. The brake discs on the R8 are only marginally smaller than 19-inch forged alu­minium rims they sit be­hind.

And that is ad­di­tion the bat­tery of elec­tronic and me­chan­i­cal aids de­signed to keep you on straight nar­row — lit­er­ally.

There are no long straights com­ing down the back road into Lorne, but the M4’s brakes seemed like an­chors, even in greasy con­di­tions as the con­voy grad­u­ally made its way down to half­way point of our route.

Com­ing back pas­sen­ger seat along Great Ocean Road was great for peo­ple watch­ing.

So many thor­ough­breds for what was lit­er­ally a head-turn­ing af­ter­noon some.

By com­par­i­son, the fi­nal leg back to Gee­long in Audi Q3 RS may have seemed lit­tle se­date. It is, af­ter all, five-cylin­der, small­ish SUV that would scarcely seem to war­rant a sec­ond glance.

But the 2.5-litre en­gine is tur­bocharged, car has Audi’s quat­tro all-wheel drive, sev­en­speed S-tronic au­to­matic gear­box and a top of 250km/h.

And like all day’s stable, it had the abil­ity to be heard as much as seen when pushed.

Truly mu­sic ears.

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