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July 28, 2009 - Autos

Robert Eckaus
Ferrari F430, Audi R8, Porsche Cayman S: Part 3 of 3

Ferrari F430

Wow. Awesome. This is unreal. Amazing! Those were my thoughts as I pulled out and hit the throttle. Now I get it about Ferrari. It was all thrust and sound. There was no vibration, rumbling, driveline lash, hesitation, nothing. The drivetrain is so superbly engineered, there is no feeling of slack or looseness, only a push in your back. Nor does the rear end squat either. It's purely gas 'n' go.

It was incredibly fast - the only one that caused the scenery to blur since I'm not acclimated to that kind of acceleration. It felt simply relentless. The howl from the Tubi exhaust hit notes you've always wanted to hear. I love a roaring V8, but that is like a bass guitar from Led Zeppelin versus the Ferrari's lead guitar from Eddie Van Halen. Applying throttle in different RPM ranges caused different exhaust notes. It was heavenly.

Handling? It felt like the wider but just as response big-brother to the Lotus without the harshness. Granted, the road I was on, 84 heading towards the coast, is one of the best. And so was this car. The view outward was excellent. The hood slopes sharply downward so the road looks close. The windshield is surprisingly close as well. If you have a radar detector, it will be close at hand.

I've driven the first generation Lamborghini Gallardo, and the F430 is a more desirable car. But I would have to spend time in the new LP560 and Porsche GT3 RS before making a decision if I had to choose just one among these three greats. If you could have each one, that would be ideal.

This is car really stood out. It was awe inspiring. A must-have in my mind and now I understand why Car & Driver said, "This is the world's most desirable sports car, bar none." in July 2005.

Audi R8

The exotic daily driver. Before I got in it, I noticed it was the only car without a hood ornament. The big side intake piece seems to make the car look more upright from the side. This one was a very conservative color too. But when you're following it, you notice how wide the bodywork and tires really are. The front has a very distinctive array of 12 LEDs on each side and is immediately recognizable from a distance in the rear view mirror.

When you get in the car, it's readily apparent how wide it is with a comfortable and luxurious interior. The gear shift lever is a large, heavy piece in a large gate, sitting up high. It felt a bit tight, but it was great. The layout of the dash was lower and angled away from the occupants like the big Aston. The V8 sound behind was very nice and almost turbine-like. I never got a sense of the AWD but it was sure smooth and effortless. This is the car to have as a daily driver of the group if you want a hardtop coupe. The F430 for weekends and summer evenings.

Porsche Cayman S

Everything seemed right. I wish I had more time in this car on various roads. It was quite comfortable, decently quick, fun to drive. It was a little small inside and I did notice there are no cupholders in the center armrest area. Not really a problem though, right? I understand the driving enthusiast scoffing at the thought. But what about a water bottle or protein drink? Surely a cupholder for that is a requirement, right? One point I found objectionable for a long distance was the gearing. Sixth gear spun at 3,000rpm at 75mph at which point I was aware of the engine sound behind me. I don't dare call it noise, but it was noticeable. These close ratios could be considered a benefit on the tracks in the U.S., but for an everyday car, I would have to pass.

Interestingly my notes state it is an easy daily driver like the Audi. I thought about it later, while it's driving dynamics are very good, it isn't an extreme car. I can do without cupholders or steering wheel controls for satellite radio but only for driving a track weapon or a car with nutso power. But as a "daily", I want my creature comforts.

More time in all the cars would have been better, but that is how a great car should always leave you feeling. Tired of horrendous depreciation? Do you want to fulfill your dream of experiencing exotic cars on great roads? Then I highly recommend the Club Sportiva experience.

More at cartruthblog.blogspot.com

Keywords: Ferrari, F430, Audi, R8, Porsche, Cayman, S, LP560, Gallardo, GT3, RS
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