New Sasol GTC cars set for thrills

The iconic Grand Prix Circuit will present a new challenge to the GTC drivers as they tackle the country’s fastest racetrack on June 16.

Suzuki’s new Swift hatch and sedan in SA

Suzuki kicks off its new model assault with an all new Swift hatchback and standalone sedan called the Dzire.

Reader test: Audi R8

2011-02-04 12:25

Southwell Mbongwe

THE REAL DEAL: Southwell's R8 experience left him visibly shaken - in a good way, of course.

I've driven quite a number of cars, from luxury off-road SUVs to hot hatches, and lots of mid-range sedans. Out all these experiences, my favourite was the BMW M3 E92 and I had always maintained that if I owned one I’d be entirely satisfied with it and would not envy anyone who drives other sports cars.

I felt that what the M3 offered in terms of performance and driver’s appeal was more than enough for any petrolhead and it remained a mystery to me why people bothered to buy exotic sports cars worth millions. I even went to the extent of assuming that such people were greedy and just wanted to showcase their power. Until one Sunday in 2010.

I've taken back all I said and I'm repenting before the God of Cars. A friend of mine bought an Audi R8 and, knowing that I am a serious petrolhead and a diehard BMW fan, he asked me to take it for a spin.

Though the R8 looked really sexy, I didn’t waste much time admiring the beauty as I was dying to get inside and take it for a drive. Well, as I got inside I could still tell that it was an Audi, save for a few bits that suggested I was entering into the world of the unknown, like the aluminium H-pattern gear lever gate.

I started the monstrous 4.2 litre V8 motor, thinking it was going to roar like the old generation RS4. To my surprise it was even more ferocious and beast-like. I then tried to gently move this beast from the yard onto the road and as I gave it a bit of gas to go over the ramp that joined the main road, it roared as if I had red-lined it when, in fact, the needle had gone to about 2000rpm. I began to realise this was no ordinary car.


As you can imagine, I got onto the main road on a Sunday afternoon with barely any traffic and I decided to let the devil in me take control. I pressed the pedal straight to the floor on gear one and the sound that came from behind my head was as if Barry White himself was screaming from a snake bite. Before I knew it, it was time to change and I shifted to two by following the H-gate that guides you to precise short shifts.

As I shifted each gear, I could hear a “ting!”-like sound produced from hitting the aluminium gear lever against the gate walls. Within this short but extreme moment I realised the need for exotic cars. I thought I knew the meaning of the word hardcore, but I was wrong.  I was more like a young teenager who thinks smooching a girl is the greatest experience until he is introduced to the real deal. I only managed to go up gear four on the straight when trying to push this car to its limit.

The ride was very firm yet comfortable enough to be driven every day. I could feel the superb grip offered by the all-wheel drive system and I was confident enough to switch off the traction control and accelerate hard on curves. The test drive lasted for about 20 minutes, and that was enough for me to change my mind set towards exotic sports cars.


As I got outside, I was really shaking, my palms were sweaty and I my head was spinning, I have never experienced such speed and viciousness in a car. While I still love the M3, I now know there is a need for exotic sports cars. These cars are in a league of their own and I’m just wondering how the finest - such as Ferraris and Lamborghinis - drive.

I hope I do not cause contention among other petrolheads who think that I am comparing the R8 to the M3; that’s not my intention. These are two different cars in different categories and I wasn't aware of the other!

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.