Thursday April 3 2014

Getting an adrenalin rush

The menacing Audi S5 is not for the faint hearted.

The menacing Audi S5 is not for the faint hearted. You would be forgiven for thinking that it is a rally car. COURTESY PHOTO 

Most car companies have certain cars put aside for fun. This is not your average type of fun, it is usually very expensive. That said, it gives you what you want-the extreme thrill of speed. Such cars are tuned by the company’s sports division. Peter Mutimba was in one such car, the Audi S5. He recounts his adrenalin rush moments.

I love cars. I love the sound, I love that new car smell and I like their looks. Some of my friends call me a certified, grade-A, government-issued petrol head. Cars are my kryptonite. (If you will forgive the superman analogy). So when I finally sat in the exquisite Audi S5, it was all I could do not to giggle and squeal like a teenage girl.

How can I make this plainer? This is the coupe, with a 3.0 litre, 349 horsepower V8 engine. It is also one of the most beautifully made cars I have ever laid my eyes on. The manner in which I run after this car to score an interview may have been slightly undignified, but it was totally worth it. Imagine my relief when the person that stepped out turned out to be a very pleasant lady named Rita Motlana. Throw in the little fact that she’s easy on the eyes and you know my day couldn’t have been any better.

Spoiler Alert: Sorry boys, she is happily married
She gave me her contact and promised to make time in her busy schedule for me. About two or three weeks later, I was invited to a beautiful home in Muyenga for an interview. After a solid hour of chatting, we got to the part I had been looking forward to the most: The test drive.

At this point I was beside myself with anticipation and I attempted to rearrange my face into what I hoped was an expression that portrayed calm. Once inside, you would be forgiven for thinking the interior was pulled out of an F22 stealth fighter. There are various blinking buttons and dials that give you the feeling there is a lot going on in the background that you have not the foggiest idea about. There are a lot of extras you will definitely not find in a Toyota Mark II. She then went on to demonstrate the Bluetooth system that turns the car into a $100,000 mobile phone.

Growling sound
When she finally brought the engine to life (with what Jeremy Clarkson of Top Gear refers to as a stupid key), it was hard to decide whether it is purring or growling, but my gosh, the sound got me excited in ways that I suspect may have been totally inappropriate.

It does not scream “look at me” like a Lamborghini or a rally car, yet the sound gives you a definite sense that the thing under the bonnet is only masquerading as an engine. It might actually be a nuclear reactor.

Now before we continue, I need to talk about the road to Motlana’s place. It is quite frankly, one of the worst stretches of road I have ever encountered. I seriously questioned the wisdom in having such a low riding car on what I consider some of the most moronically potholed roads in the world. I will give you an example. The last time I drove a RAV4 on a road this bad, I aged three years and my back hurt for a week. If memory serves me right, I think I also destroyed the differential.

Bracing for the worst
Any worries however that the road ahead was going to spoil the experience were quickly put to bed. I braced myself for the worst, but it never came. The car shook a little and that was it. You would be forgiven for thinking you were riding on a cushion of air. Of course the suspension is made from stuff I could not be bothered to explain, but take it from me, it is astoundingly good. It was hard to believe that it was the same road.

I must say, it was all rainbows and unicorns until she hit a good bit of road, got into sport mode and attacked the accelerator. A car that had until that point appeared quite sane turned into an axe wielding maniac. I am now going to try and explain what happened. Some of these facts may be compromised, because I think my brain rebooted twice during that ride.

Go near the accelerator and the engine generates the kind of forward thrust that tickles you while it kicks you in the back. Let me put it this way. Anyone who has been in a car has at one time or other moved at 100km/hr? Not the worst thing that can happen to you.

Dash in a flash
Most cars take between 12 to 18 seconds to hit 100km/hr. When however you are in a car that goes 0-100km/hr faster than should be allowed, and the driver wants to demonstrate its physics defying performance, your body will violently protest. Usually by re-visiting you with whatever you had for breakfast.

It is excitement, disorientation, nausea and terror all rolled into one joint. By the time I stepped out, part of me wanted to go again, while the other wanted to hug the ground and kiss the grass screaming; “Oh God, I thought I was going to die”.

I had plans to ask Motlana to let me drive it, but at that point I was afraid I would re-decorate her interior with the beef I had for lunch. I have heard that rally driver, Sebastian Loeb goes around 90 degree corners at 150km/hr. It does not even make sense. In the AudiS5, We were just doing about 100 in a straight line. For these reasons, I will never be a professional rally driver. I am content writing about it.

My verdict
Magnificent car. One thing though. If you have to ask how much it costs and how much fuel it consumes, you probably cannot afford it yet. For now you may have to be content with pinning it to your bedroom wall and hoping to win Shs250m in a lottery.