James Batchelor was on work experience the week our cars were delivered for this year’s Road Test of the Year. Here he explains just what it was like to experience three of them (from the passenger seat).
THE Porsche Boxster Spyder, the Audi R8 V10 Spyder, and Aston Martin’s Rapide – three of the most exciting babies to have been born into 2010 – and all cars I’ve had the pleasure of sampling in the last week.
The Porsche purports to be a roughtie-toughtie Boxster but, in the dash to 60mph, only gets there 0.2 seconds quicker than the £4,000 cheaper Boxster S. But it’s still intoxicating.
The only problem is it seems to have a Millets tent for a roof. Taking nearly 20 minutes to remove the Porsche’s roof only added to the excitement though, for the Boxster Spyder is one of the prettiest Porsches ever.
Not only does its rear end have an uncanny similarity with the Carerra GT, but the Boxster seems to have more of the look of the ‘50s-classic 550 Spyder about it.
However, there was nothing 1950s-ish about the performance of the Boxster Spyder. It may only be a smidgen faster than the ordinary S, but the Spyder has a 20mm ride height drop over the S, and has harder suspension, firmer dampers and new anti-roll bars all round. The result of those improvements was very apparent; the Spyder furnishes you with a very satisfying feeling of confidence.
The thing that really hits you about the R8 Spyder is how comfortable it is. Not only did our car have sat-nav, a parking camera, climate control and a pair of fabulously comfy seats but, dare I say it, at town speeds the R8 felt like an A4 convertible.
The 5.2-litre Lamborghini-derived V10 can easily cruise along at 30mph in sixth gear, muting the 10 cylinder motor to a respectable-sounding mumbling noise.
Although, slither the glorious aluminum gear knob into second, boot the throttle and show the R8 a corner, and the car reminds you of its racing origins.
Even in ‘Normal’ mode the R8 has so much grip that internal organs begin to move, and then your ears melt as that mellifluous, yet angry Lambo-howl gets louder.
While the Audi blends composure with fury, strangely the Rapide resides with the latter temperament. The flowing bodywork and opulent interior hide what is a very traditional, brutish Aston Martin.
After slotting in the ‘emotional control unit’ and pressing the Start/Stop button, for a few seconds the only noise that is emitted is that of the ignition turning over. Akin to the sound of God’s espresso machine, the mechanical whirring of the ignition is boisterously replaced by a growl of those 12 cylinders firing; a growl so provocative it resembles God’s realization he’s ground Brazilian instead of Columbian coffee beans.
In contrast to the Spyder-y pair, the Aston’s V12 needs time to warm-up. Which is no bad thing as it gives you a moment to enjoy the calm before the 184 miles-an-hour storm.
In ‘Normal’ mode the suspension is very compliant (although the seats were very hard – perhaps it was the effect of the new leather) but, once warmed-up, prod the ‘Sport’ mode and the Rapide ditches serenity for a cackling, whaling, snarling-infused ride of Biblical eminence. You can’t help but emit inane squeals of sheer delight.
And it’s that feeling of ruthless power, ridiculous impracticality, and irresistible passion that makes sports and supercars a pleasure that should be compulsory for all to enjoy.