Zero to Hundred Time To Attack 2010 Round 3
Guest Contribution By Dr. Nazli Haffiz
Italy vs Germany: If this article is about football (soccer for you Yanks), this would be a mouth-watering fixture, more so if it’s for the World Cup. I’m a fan of Germany’s approach to football – composed, systematic and efficient but somewhat predictable. Italians on the other hand, have more flair, or more accurately, they invented it and shoved it in their football boots. I know Brazilians and their fans would argue on this, but I would have none of that as I’m trying to write an article about cars.
And since we’re talking about cars, I’ll be changing my allegiance to the Italians. Now, Italians and Germans have built some of the most exciting cars in the past few decades from the stables of Lamborghini, Ferrari, and Porsche to name a few. No doubt they have some of the fastest cars on the planet and although there is a deep love for speed, speed is only part of the passion. Like loving a lady, passion for speed involves sensuous emotions, caressing the intricate lines of the body, savouring the sounds during foreplay as well as the whole experience of it.
The words passione per la velocita (meaning passion for speed in Italian) in itself sound so sexy!
Germans on the other hand are genetically efficient and unfortunately boring. Like football, they seem to strive for perfection in utilising whatever their four-wheeled creations are meant to do – be it fuel efficiency or high-tech gadgetry. What I do care about is the feel of the car, how it behaves when driven hard and how it stimulates my senses of sight and hearing. There should be a tingly sensation that courses through the body when you grab the keys to a car, more so when you sit snugly into the driver’s seat and as you switch on the ignition you should be greeted with a rumble which also serves as a hint of what joys are to come.
I got the privilege to attend a time attack event at our friendly neighbourhood Formula One track at Sepang some time back and there were a couple of Italian and German rides, driven by Asians nonetheless. Something worth mentioning was the Porsche 997 Turbo, the supercharged Porsche GT3 RS, two Audi R8s as well as the Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera. A couple of Ferraris of the F430 variant were in attendance, and also a Modena if I remember correctly. It was the Audi R8 that I fell in love with at first sight. There’s something about it that really caught my eye – was it the daytime running LED lights? Or was it the carbon fibre on the sides of the car?
Frankly, as I dug deep into my feelings, I think it has more to do with Tony Stark driving the R8. So it seems my infatuation with the Audi supercar is linked to my idolising of the fictitious Iron Man. Without Tony Stark, the R8 is as boring as any other Audis on the road. BMW and Audi may bicker humorously in their marketing strategies but they have a lot in common besides being German.
Porsches are interesting somewhat – I’ve always been a fan of the 964 and the 993 air-cooled Turbos. This particular Porsche is a GT3 RS which has a supercharger retrofitted by its Malaysian owner. No doubt the supercharger is intended to give more power, but I feel that it defeats the purpose of it being a GT3 RS as the car is intended to be normally aspirated from the factory, revving its nuts off.
Looking from another perspective though, I can understand why the owner felt the urge to modify the car. Rationally, the owner would be better off getting a Turbo if there is a much higher need for power. Then again, when is modifying a car is rational? Looks play a significant part in attraction. I’m attracted to fair-skinned ladies – in car speak that means exotic body lines and in-your-face good looks. Cue the Superleggera. As I’ve mentioned earlier, Porsches are interesting but ultimately I realised they are quite boring. Don’t get me wrong, Porsches are fine machines but their design has remained unchanged since the first 911 rolled off the production line. I hate to be honest here but Porsches seem like a poor man’s supercar. 3.8 litre engine? Bah, I’d rather have a stonking 5.2 litre Superleggera! Global warming dictates that we use efficient and much smaller displacement engines, but screw that, how often do you see a Toyota Prius tearing down the straights of a Formula One track? Take a look at the Superleggera: the shape, the lines, heck even the engine is in the right position with a viewing window to boot. What you can see in the GT3 RS are a couple of pipes, and in this particular example, a supercharger which dominates the view of the engine bay. Open up an Audi R8 and you can see the same longitudinal engine as the Superleggera but mostly covered in plastic, hence not much drama there either. Remove the lightweight lid off the Superleggera and you’re greeted by a glorious V10 which may virtually the same in the R8 but evoking loads more emotion.
Then comes the time to hit the track: The German Porsches and Audis are comparatively silent, paling in comparison to a dinosaur-era turbocharged Toyota KE70 which sounded devilishly loud. Hearing the Italian scream its heart out down the straights and growling as it downshifts into the first turn overwhelmed me with so much excitement I felt like I was a teenage schoolgirl with a huge crush on Justin Bieber and meeting him face to face for the first time. And as abrupt as the Superleggera hits 0-100km/h, I’ll conclude my passione per la velocita with two words - Viva Italia!