Few things are better than the visceral joy you get from driving a supercar.
Most car enthusiasts would jump at the opportunity to get behind the wheel of one, enticed by the big, thunderous engines and other-worldly looks that exotics possess.
It’s almost cliché to say that supercars are the stuff of dreams. Truthfully, they are more of a study in harsh realities.
Outside of a racetrack or some flawless stretch of pavement supercars are nearly useless. Some of them are works of art, to be sure, but once employed as daily drivers, they are basically loud, over-engineered land missiles that cost more than four times the average annual US household income.
Own one of these cars in a city like San Francisco and you might be in for a stressful experience.
Audi gave me the keys to a 2017 Audi R8 V-10 Plus a few weeks ago. All things considered, this is one of the few supercars that tries to make itself livable as a daily driver.
There are more than a few areas in which the R8 shines. So my experience driving this car in and around San Francisco, though challenging, had less to do with the car itself and more to do with the general headache of city living with this much power beneath my feet.
Here’s 10 reasons why living with a supercar in a big city is not as great as you think.
1.) Parking: Once the initial excitement of getting the keys wears off, you worry about parking it on the street, even if it's just for a few minutes.
When your wheels are 20-inch rolling sculptures like these, you try your best not to let a hostile curb destroy them.
2.) Comfort is fleeting: Nothing about the R8 is ordinary. These racing seats are firm and supportive, but you should avoid potholes at all costs. These buckets will not forgive you. Neither will the wheels. Nor the suspension.
The interior features Audi's industry-leading virtual cockpit -- a robust digital display in the instrument cluster. That explains the general lack of buttons on the center stack and abundance of buttons on the steering wheel.
OK, enough about parking and seats and steering wheels. Time to drive. You can tell how wary I am of curbs in this car by how wide this left turn is.
3.) More power than you can use: Say hello to the R8's 5.2-litre V-10. It makes 610 horsepower. Driving the R8 in San Francisco means you'll get to unleash all of that power precisely never.
That V-10 has no trouble announcing itself, but here's some helpful badging in case this beast -- painted in dynamite red -- distracted you.
4.) Imposing proportions: San Francisco is famous for its tight, circuitous roads -- not easy to navigate in the long, wide R8. Proceed carefully.
The minimal distance between the R8's front bumper and the ground is a good reason to keep your eyes open for speed bumps and other road obstacles.
5.) Few places to go: Away from the racetrack, there are not many places to truly enjoy a supercar. This blacktop near Stinson Beach outside of San Francisco was nice, but there was some traffic ...
7.) Nobody leaves you alone: Other drivers and passersby will try to get your attention. More than a few drivers pulled up next to me to honk their horns and wave.
8.) Gas mileage: OK, nobody buys a supercar to save gas and the Audi R8 is actually quite fuel-efficient, all things considered. You get about 300 miles on a full tank of premium gas.
9.) Cargo space: Stocking up on groceries requires some creativity. The R8's front trunk holds exactly two bags.
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