The man who dropped off the keys to a loaner 2018 Audi R8 Spyder at my trendy eighth-floor walk-up on the Lower East Side shuffled away after the transaction was complete, looking over his shoulder longingly at the shining supercar like he was walking away forever from his firstborn son.
In fact, he was so distracted that he walked straight into the path of an oncoming bus and was killed instantly.
After successfully Instagramming his mangled corpse with my overpriced Leica, laying in the street in a pool of reflective blood, I turned back to the pretty thing that was now under my care for the next five days.
I’m happy to report that Brexit had absolutely no effect whatsoever on the Audi’s looks. Fresh as though 2006 was just yesterday, I ran my eyes over its smooth shape and slightly bulbous hood. The wide, black front grille yawned towards whatever the car lunged at, like a ferocious maw of a starved wolf ripping towards valet parking stands and stock options.
This was the cloth-top version of the already ballistic Audi R8 Coupe. With a howling V10 good for 540 horsepower, power was sent to all four wheels with the help of a snappy seven-speed, dual-clutch transmission, which I would absolutely need for my brand-building Snapchat trip through the Hamptons.
Of course, one doesn’t get a convertible just to ride around in with the top up. I pulled up to the nearest soup kitchen I could find, parked, and folded the top down and up a few times for effect, just to see how quickly I could do it. The car’s suspension swallowed up the pockmarked street as I left, barely jostling the wheatgrass avocado latte I had balanced carefully between my knees. I hate cupholders.
I was on my way to meet up with Tom Ford in East Hampton. The highway was where the R8's prowess as a car really shone. It did the driving so well. The steering wheel turned the front wheels. The gas pedal made it speed up and the brake pedal slowed it down. I marveled at how far car tech had come in the past six months.
And from within the car, without being able to see much of it, I marveled at how good I looked in it. How a high contrast black and white photo could really bring out my cheekbones, especially if I pursed my lips a certain way. How it totally was good for my brand.
Once at the Hamptons, Ford answered my buzz from the gate in his usual way over the intercom, which was by asking who I was.
“You’re funny,” I teased, lowering my big movie-star sunglasses and staring into the security camera. “You asked me to come out here? We were supposed to hit the East Hampton Champagne Tasting?”
His sigh sounded staticky through the microphone. “I’ve already told you, I don’t know who you are and I want you to stop bothering me. Seriously. I’m going to call the cops next time.”
But I didn’t hear that last part, I was too busy taking a photo of the front gate of his house and Instagramming it. “Hanging with the one and only @tomford,” I typed. “#hamptons #fun #workperks #R8.”
Then I put the car into reverse and backed out of the driveway and straight into a little boy’s lemonade stand.
The crunch of styrofoam cups beneath the R8's beefy 305-section rear tires reminded me of why you’d spend $175,100 on a car in the first place: perspective.
See, crushing a lemonade stand and subsequent hopes and dreams in a Camry isn’t quite the same as doing it in a nearly-$200,000 German supercar (once you check all the appropriate options boxes). Because the interior of the Camry isn’t as well insulated as the R8's, you’d hear the wails of the child. Unless you have the R8's top down, as I did, you wouldn’t hear a thing.
And the Virtual Cockpit? Fabulous. As much a work of art as the ones I saw at an invite-only gallery showing at the Geneva Motor Show. And very nearly as good as the free martinis at said gallery party. You know I love to party.
Plus, there’s a lot less guilt associated with driving an R8. You suddenly don’t feel bad for showing up late to places, trespassing and taking up two spots at once in a parking lot. Go ahead, the car seems to urge you to do, hit that party, take pictures with all the models. You’re driving an R8!
The rest of the automotive industry should take a lesson from Audi and all create two-seat supercars. Precious resources shouldn’t be wasted on the likes of SUVs and minivans. We should all have something to aspire to. This Audi is a good start.