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BARRY GREEN . . . 
. . . puts our North East Victoria and Southern Riverina readers behind the wheel of an eclectic mix of performance and classic cars on some of the world’s greatest roads and racing circuits.

Double shots: Euro supercars

2015 Audi R8 V10+
Motoring writer Barry Green
Story: Barry Green
Photos: Dawn Green

AS a 1960s schoolboy, Barry Green spent his hard-earned pocket money on Racing Car News and Sports Car World, monthly enthusiast magazines he would studiously pore over at the expense of any text book. Little wonder then that reading about fast cars and motorsport led to a four decade career (not out) writing about same, initially as freelancer then author and professional writer. His exploits are captured in two recent release books, The Best of Drives 1 and 2, each a first-hand compilation of nearly 80 drives on some of the world’s greatest roads and circuits. This story is but one . . . (Headshot photo - Ernest Litera)

FROM 2007 until 2020, motoring writer Barry Green drove somewhere between 100 and 120 cars a year – and a few before then.

 

In an era which saw the uptake of the SUV and dual-cab Ute eclipse all else, it would be fair to say that very few excited or truly engaged him. The odd exception was maybe one in 10.

 

It is these, an eclectic selection of rorty roadsters, cool coupes, hot hatches, gorgeous GTs, sexy supercars and odd Ute and wagon that our Double Shot series is all about.

 

In the 14th of our Double Shot series, Barry drives two Euro supercars, both of which he will never forget.

2015 Audi R8 V10 +

THE R8 V10 +, upon its release, was the fastest production car the German marque had ever launched.

‘Motor-vation’ is provided by a Lamborghini-sourced, 5.2-litre 404kW / 540Nm hand-built engine bristling with performance – 0-100km/h comes up in a claimed 3.5 seconds, and top end approximating 320km/h.

When push comes to shove, the R8 V10 + has it in spades thanks to a fat torque band that’s omnipresent, from just above tick-over up to 6500rpm.

Roll on – provoke, even – the throttle and the Audi’s formidable combination of quattro all-wheel drive, mechanical differential lock and traction control puts the power to a damp roadway in a micro-second.

The only protest is a slight squirm from the back of the car, felt more through your hips held tight in the Nappa leather-appointed sports seat than through the thick and purposeful steering wheel.

Audi made light work of the R8, literally. The aluminium body with Audi Space Frame (ASF) weighs only 210kg, taking the R8 V10 + to an all-up (relatively) trim 1560kg.

Such advantage of lack of avoirdupois, combined with prolific grunt would be wasted if the R8’s chassis wasn’t up to the job.

Rest assured it is, as our run through the Strathbogie Ranges, Victoria, on a drying road comprehensively demonstrated. 

We noted a complete absence of body roll, and the car turns in, changes direction and flows through the corners with absolute conviction.

 

Under ‘normal circumstances’, the all-paw system operates by sending 85% of torque to the rear wheels and 15% to the front axle.

 

But as grip and circumstances change, that split can vary up to 70 / 30 and so immediate and seamless is the response that you wouldn’t know it.

 

Overall, there is a delightful balance to the R8. Ride quality, while firm, falls well short of loosening tooth fillings and stopping power is provided by a ceramic brakes package with the whoa to match the go.

Alas, there’s no manual gearshift, but a new seven-speed S tronic (automated transmission) comes commendably at no extra cost.

The S tronic is a marked improvement over the R tronic it replaces, a unit that won few friends with its sometimes convoluted response.

This really is the complete, everyday supercar.

 

Basic price new: $408.200. Engine: 5.2-litre DOHC 40v V10. Power: 404kW @ 8000rpm. Torque:540Nm @ 6500rpm. Transmission: 7-spd dual-clutch. Weight: 1560kg. Drive: All-wheel. 0-100km/h: 3.5sec.

2015 Ferrari F12 Berlinetta

THE F12 Berlinetta not just underscores the word ‘performance’; it emphasises it in big, bold capitals.

With its normally-aspirated 6.3-litre V12 thrusting out 545kW @ 8250rpm and 690Nm of torque @ 6000rpm, this is the most powerful performance model of Ferrari’s (then-current) range.

At 1.12 with Cd of 0.299 and 123kg downforce at 200km/h, it is also the most overall aero efficient road car to wear the legendary prancing horse crest.

But, such big numbers come at a price. Some might argue that $A690,745 +. is way too excessive, but that’s what supercars are – excessive.

They’re designed and built not to make sense, but stimulate and challenge the senses.

This is something the F12 does consummately and commandingly.

Best of all, the degree of driving input is yours to modulate through enabling/disabling an arsenal of electronic-guided aids.

The electronic steering that feels super-sensitive at urban speeds, while still quick at speed, grows on you to provide absolute connection between driver and front wheels.

Under cornering, simply turn in, apply desired lock and throttle and the F12’s E-diff3 (electronic differential) and F1-Trac (traction control) do the rest.

No correction or additional steering input is needed and the car holds its line resolutely, cornering pancake flat and with optimum grip.

Thumb the starter and the big, mid/front-mounted V12 bursts into an angry idle before settling.

Driven manually under full acceleration, this is a powerplant so eager to rev as it charges manically towards redline; smooth and lightning-quick, seven-speed double-clutch transmission working seamlessly in unison.

It’s also amazingly flexible, with 80% of torque available from just 2500rpm, before peaking (690Nm) @ 6000rpm.

Huge carbon ceramic brakes (398mm front, 360mm rear) take a while to truly warm to the task, but when they do they reassure and impress in equally deep measure with easy modulation and herculean retardation.

Ride quality, on 20-inch alloys and fat rubber, over what pass for most roads in Australia, is –  no surprise – terse, but things can be smoothed and soothed by thumbing a button on the steering wheel that switches the Magnetorheological suspension to a ‘bumpy road setting’ (Ferrari’s words).

For sure, it’s a lot of money – but you get a lot of supercar.

Basic price new : $690,745+. Engine: 6.3-litre, DOHC, 48v, direct-injection V12. Power: 545kW @ 8250rpm. Torque: 690Nm @ 6000rpm.Transmission: 7-spd double clutch auto. Weight: 1630kg. Drive: Rear-wheel. 0-100km/h: 3.0sec.

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