Mountain music

The Audi R8 Spyder European Tour delivers the ultimate dream drive.

Top down in the Audi R8 Spyder on some of the best driving roads in the world – it doesn’t get much better.

6 September, 2019


There are precious few aural treats to compare with the sound of the exhaust note from a high-performance sportscar echoing through the mountains. In June, that sound was amplified and multiplied by nine, as the inaugural Audi R8 Spyder European Tour carved its way through the mountain passes of three countries, putting these high-performance, open-top classics through their paces just as Audi intended.

The high mountain passes – twisting ribbons of black that seem to go on forever – are one of the natural habitats of the Audi R8 Spyder, and an absolute nirvana for motoring enthusiasts. From Germany through Austria and Italy, these high Alpine passes are amongst the very best driving roads on earth and have served as the backdrop for many a classic car chases in countless films.

Spectacular scenery, from densely wooded Forrests to sparsely covered mountain sides with snow still clinging to rocky outcrops – this is what greeted the group of Audi enthusiasts who took part in the first Audi R8 Spyder European Drive this year, as they experienced the drive of a lifetime over five days.

The R8 Spyder European Drive forms part of Audi Australia’s extended Audi driving experience which includes the Ice driving experience held each year in Seefeld, Austria and the Ice Pro experience in Sweden.

The high mountain passes – twisting ribbons of black that seem to go on forever – are one of the natural habitats of the Audi R8 Spyder

The R8 Spyder drive is an immersive experience, the drive of a lifetime, certainly, but one with a rich lifestyle component executed in true Audi style

This year, 17 guests, an Audi Australia host and Audi Australia Chief Driving Instructor, Steve Pizzati, embarked on the first R8 Spyder drive, an experience Pizzati says offers participants the chance to enjoy ‘some of the best driving roads in the world, in one of the best sports cars in the world’. None would argue.

The R8 Spyder drive is an immersive experience, the drive of a lifetime, certainly, but one with a rich lifestyle component executed in true Audi style.

Participants arrived in Munich for their week-long driving odyssey. Settling in for a relaxed evening in the Bavarian capital before getting straight down to business the next morning. And how better to prepare for a spirited drive in the Austrian and Italian Alps than a day of intensive, high-performance training at the home of Audi Sport in Neuburg. This state-of-the-art facility is the home of Audi’s motorsport program as well as the headquarters of the Audi driving experience. With numerous test courses and a dedicated test track, the Neuburg facility was the perfect place to ‘acclimatise’ with an R8 performance course before hitting the road in the R8 Spyders the next day, and it was also an opportunity for the participants to get a sense of the rich motorsport history that is so much a part of the Audi brand.

Here the trophies from countless motorsport campaigns, from the 24 Hours of Le Mans to DTM to TCR and Formula E recount the tremendous success of the brand on the tracks of the world, while key cars from that proud motorsport past sit quietly on display for the motorsport faithful admire.

From Neuburg, it was back into Munich to relax and prepare for the drive proper the next day, enjoying all the hospitality Munch has to offer.

Next morning it was ‘game on’ – with a brief drive to the MyAudi Sphere at Munich International Airport to collect the R8 Spyders and quite literally head for the hills – or mountains, to be more precise.

First on to Osterhofen/Bayrischzell, leaving the big city far behind, for a quiet lunch before pressing on to Kitzbühel via the Gerlos Pass and right up into the mountains. Superb roads that snake up from the valley floor to an elevation of more than 1500 metres – the peaks often shrouded in mist and cloud. These are beautiful roads that are closed during the winter months as they become impassable, but open again with the Spring thaw. 

Overnight was in the picturesque Alpine town of Kitzbühel, east of Innsbruck. A Mecca for skiers in the winter months and a perfect layover for those enjoying the various other mountain activities in the warmer months – including motoring.

Superb roads that snake up from the valley floor to an elevation of more than 1500 metres

Trying not to look down into the seemingly bottomless valleys can be tricky for those in the passenger seat

Fully refreshed, the next day saw the R8 Spyders once again race towards the heavens, driving to Lienz via the famed Groβglockner High Alpine Road. This is one of the truly great driving experiences, a 48km stretch of iconic mountain road up to Groβglockner – The Black Mountain. Towering some 3,798 metres above Austria’s largest national park, it is the highest peak in Austria and the road to its summit is suitably impressive – an absolute must for the true motoring enthusiast. Swithback after switchback demand concentration and perfect car balance to really make the most of the road, while the striking view impresses at every turn.

Trying not to look down into the seemingly bottomless valleys can be tricky for those in the passenger seat – unobstructed by armco for most of the drive. But the thrill of driving this road alone will long live in the memory.

Another relaxing lunch to take in the surroundings and the achievement, before heading for the next overnight, this time in Ultental in the province of South Tyrol in northern Italy.

From here to Selva di Val Gardena in the Dolomites still in Italy, and the opportunity to take in this breathtaking part of the world on more superb roads before heading back towards Ultental via Sellarondato for a final relaxing night in the Alps.

The final day saw the Tour head back towards Innsbruck, a final ‘blast’ through the mountain roads for lunch at the grand Interalpen just outside Innsbruck before the final leg back to Munich.

Accurately putting into words the sensation of driving a car like the Audi R8 Spyder through the Alps is simple not possible. The sights, smells and of course the sounds needing to be experienced first hand to be truly appreciated.

Indeed this trip is all about the many layers of experience. The accommodation, the food and of course the seamless marriage of cars and extraordinary roads.

“There’s nothing like this in Australia,” says Steve Pizzati. “This Tour is a unique way to experience the cars and the roads and not have to worry about anything else. Everything is taken care of, from a designated vehicle to transport everyone’s luggage directly to each overnight venue, to where we’ll stop along the way to refresh. All you need to is enjoy the experience.”

Audi Australia will offer the R8 Spyder European Tour again in 2020 as part of the Audi driving experience, with dates and itinerary to be announced soon.

For more information on the Audi driving experience, visit the dedicated website, and stay tuned to Audi Magazine for more updates on dream drives for the new year.

This trip is all about the many layers of experience – accommodation, the food and of course the seamless marriage of cars and extraordinary roads