The Audi R8 V10 Plus you see in the above image is my ride for this week only, courtesy of Audi UK. As you can imagine, it was very hard indeed to come back indoors to catch up on writing but real life has a habit of getting in the way of fun. I expect you will have noticed that.
My original intention for today was to lambaste our odious Chancellor of the Exchequer for what will henceforth be known as the ‘Great VED Rip-Off of 2017’. I expect though that you are all well aware of this scandal by now and have your own opinions.
It’s so blatant. The government does its level best to turn us on to low-emission cars then plan to charge us for the privilege. What a con.
I could go on endlessly in this vein but that’s not what I decided to write about in the end, so back to the point and the point is the countryside and cars.
Driving the R8 is a thing of great joy (my review will be in a few days time). Around the highways and byways of Wiltshire and surrounding counties it has consistently mastered every stretch of road I have put in front of it without breaking sweat.
Even on a twisting country road I regularly use it felt totally safe and secure at speed but there are certain things that not even sophisticated engineering can predict. In this case it was a brainless dog who was clearly playing a game of ‘let’s all chase cars’. No dogs were harmed in this scenario thanks to monster ceramic brakes but it did highlight the hidden perils of motoring in the countryside.
Driving on rural roads can be quite a challenge. Tight bends, unexpected wildlife and daft doggies all serve to complicate matters. Thank goodness this is not the American continent because I don’t know how British drivers would cope with, say, a moose. Essentially there’s no harm in enjoying a drive in the countryside but it pays to always expect the unexpected.
There’s a code. I quite like horses (less so some of their supercilious riders) and I have no desire to frighten them. The rule is that cars should creep slowly and quietly past (and try doing that in a R8 with optional sports exhaust). I’m pleased to say that most drivers still hold to this but I am encountering more and more incidences of careless driving out in the backwoods.
You can see why it would happen. There are parts of rural Britain where strangers seldom go. The locals potter around the lanes and villages in knackered hatchbacks and terminal Toyota pick-ups and forget, in a way, that there is a real world out there beyond the hedgerows. Pretty villages near to me are blighted by a standard of parking you would expect in a four-year old child’s Chad Valley garage.
I have learned to ease off on blind curves in case agricultural vehicles are having one of those parades that they seem to love so, especially when carrying ripe manure. We know they can’t go as fast as we would want them to and we try to be patient, but just sometimes I wonder if there isn’t a malicious undertone. If it were otherwise, why would they lay in wait for me?
All country roads will have a speed limit of 60mph or less. You should strive to be able to stop in the distance you can see to be clear on your own side of the road. On a single track road you may need to stop in half of that distance to allow for oncoming traffic. A bleep on the horn always pays I find on tight, blind bends.
Nothing beats driving with zest along a country road surrounded by beautiful scenery on a sunny day, especially in an Audi R8. The point is that the countryside has different rules and different hazards (like suicidal animals) to those commonly experienced on main roads. On a glorious day, Britain has some to the loveliest countryside to be found anywhere but hey, let’s be careful out there. Geoff Maxted