Life decision

Brawling heavy hauler is a softie at heart

ALEX INWOOD

ONE of my favourite games to play, usually with friends at the pub, is ĎOne Car For Lifeí.

The premise is simple: players are asked to name the one car theyíd be willing to drive, forever. In choosing, youíre excluding all others for eternity, so think of it as nominating your permanent one-car garage.

Easy, right? Well, not really. Most make the rookie mistake of picking a sports car, often a Porsche 911, which is brilliant, until they realise they have kids. And a dog. And occasionally need to tow things.

Powerful SUVs are popular, too, like a Porsche Cayenne GTS or Range Rover Sport SVR. But I donít want to drive an SUV for the rest of my life.

My choice, and Iím quite proud of this, has long been the Audi RS6. Itís the Swiss Army Knife of cars, capable of lugging five adults (and a Labraschnoodle) in supreme comfort, yet powerful enough to blow supercars off at the lights. Case closed.

Or so I thought. Second month in and the Clubsport wagon continues to have me hooked. Thereís something deeply satisfying about driving a car with this much grunt, especially when its onboard electronics are calibrated so brilliantly.

This month has been spent exploring the Drive Mode Select dial, which comprises three settings: Tour, Sport and Performance. Cycling through them loosens the electronic nanny to the point where, with Performance mode engaged, you almost feel like youíre on your own. You arenít, but it does allow for a large amount of slip, and after a month of exhaustive testing I canít think of another car that breaks traction as smoothly, or predictably, as this.

Admittedly, this is childish (Harold Scruby would say hoonish), but I hope youíll agree itís also brilliant fun.

Iím even starting to like the way the Clubby sounds, despite my initial misgivings about its flat, unimaginative exhaust note low in the rev-range. The trick is to keep the big blown V8 above 4200rpm, where it bellows, crackles and delivers upshifts with an addictive brrrraaaaaapppp.

The downside to all this is higher fuel bills. Dialling in Sport or Performance has seen my consumption jump from 11s to 17s.

And Iím not convinced about the steering, either, which is fine in Tour but too heavy for my taste in the other modes.

So has the HSV trumped the RS6 as my One Car For Life? Almost. Iím still drawn to the Audiís luxury, build quality and warpfactor acceleration. But I also know the Clubbyís rear-drive layout and tail-happy character would be more fun.

Biting the hand that feeds you

Hereís some friendly advice: If you buy a Gen-F2 Clubsport, take care when washing that newly designed front bar.

Turns out the new black plastic inserts below the LED strips donít just look aggressive Ė they bite. This rather painful discovery occurred during the wagonís first tub, when I thrust my hand and sponge into the big black void only to slice off half my index finger (well, thatís what it felt like) on a sharp plastic edge. Ouch!

Garage

HSV CLUBSPORT R8 LSA TOURER

Date acquired: March 2016 Price as tested: $85,990 This month: 2060km @ 12.9L/100km Overall: 4615km @ 12.7L/100km

0 1 0 1 8 3 WEEK 8

URBAN COUNTRY SPORTS FAMILY MOTORWAY