GTspirit was recently invited to one of the most historic celebrations in Berlin. Twenty six years ago, the German Democratic Republic and the Federal Republic of Germany formed the nation of Germany and Berlin was reunited into a single city.
Today, Berlin is one of the most interesting and coolest places in central Europe. Famous for its culture and nightlife, Berlin is definitely a popular tourist hotspot! But we didn’t come to Berlin to only celebrate the German Unity Day, we also came to visit one of most luxurious hotels in town and enjoy a suitable car for this occasion.
We were hosted by the hotel “Das Stue” in Berlin Tiergarten – a five star boutique hotel in the center of Berlin. The neoclassicist building was built from 1938 to 1940 and designed by architect Emil Schaudt who was also responsible for the famous KaDeWe – the largest department store in continental Europe. Originally, the building was Berlin’s Royal Danish Embassy and is located at the west side of Berlin’s Embassy district.
In 2009, the building was renovated and later redesigned to start as hotel “Das Stue” in December 2012. “Stue” is danish for “living room”. The building’s public areas such as the entrance, bar and restaurant were designed by Patricia Urquiola. LVG Arquitectura put their hands on the 78 rooms and suites, whose size ranges from 27 square meters up to 110 square meters. Culinary guests can enjoy Mediterranean flair by Michelin Star owner Paco Pérez. His gourmet restaurants “cinco” and “The Casual” will serve you the finest food. In addition to all that, Das Stue has a spa and library for all your relaxation needs.
We were located at the magnificent “Bel Etage Suite”, which is the largest suite in the hotel. With its 110 square meters, the guest has a separate living and sleeping area and two bathrooms. We had a nice stay at our suite and enjoyed the cozy atmosphere while relaxing on our huge balcony that features a direct view of the Berlin Zoo where we could see antelopes.
The “Bel Etage Suite” comes with another unique offering for all the petrolheads. Guests who reside in this suite receive a high class Audi model during their stay and we were lucky to receive keys to the new Audi R8 V10 Plus! This is the result of an exclusive partnership between Das Stue and the Audi City Berlin. Of course we had to take a look at the Audi City and say hello with our ride for the weekend.
“Audi City Berlin” is a virtual showroom at the famous Kurfürstendamm. It’s the third of its kind after London and Beijing and was opened in February 2014. Instead of a conventional dealership, the Audi City is a futuristic showroom and sales-place for the inner city. It’s a lot smaller than a dealership and has only two to four cars displayed, but it brings you a complete different experience of Audi cars.
You can configure every Audi on one of the six 32” Multipoint touch monitors and have a 360 degrees look at your car scaled 1:1 on one of the six Powerwalls. The Powerwalls are wall mounted monitors that are connected to each other, measuring a total size of 87 square meters! You can enjoy your configured car and move it by gesture control, or let it drive through virtual landscapes and get an experience of the car’s sound note.
On the first floor is the Audi ultra Powerwall, which consists of 18 3D monitors with a 12k resolution in total. At seven meters wide and two meters high we experienced the newest Audi models with the help of latest entertainment technologies. We loved the architecture of the building whose interior integrates perfectly with the surrounding environment that hosts premium shops and designer boutiques. The German Design Award 2016 for Retail Architecture is justified.
Parked in front of the hotel, a lot of people recognize the Audi R8 V10 Plus. The car looks much wider and lower than its previous model. With the taillights enabled, the rear looks stunning and powerful. The front looks more aggressive, but it could have even been more. It will possibly look more menacing with a special edition like the R8 GT as its life-cycle evolves.
The rear wing of the new Audi R8 V10 fits perfectly to the car’s shape and we were happy to drive the Plus model. The interior is completely different from its predecessor too. A driver focused Audi Virtual Cockpit means that there is a huge display behind the steering wheel that provides all the information via Audi’s MMI.
The center console was cleaned up and only features the MMI controller, gear lever and climate control. The latter is in a non typical design. You can love it or hate it. The best looking part in the interior is definitely the steering wheel. It comes with a three spoke design and contains buttons for the Audi MMI, Start/ Stop and three selectors for driving modes, race mode and the sports exhaust. It’s finished in a nice aluminum trim. We then took a seat and started the engine – wow! What a growl.
The people around us seemed to share the same feeling by smiling at the car. The V10 growls deep and loud, especially when the engine is cold. You can select either a quiet exhaust or a loud one and between several damper setups such as comfort or individual. We started in comfort mode for the first km. The streets of Berlin are quite bad and the comfort mode was still very stiff, so we decided to switch to individual to get a better response from the car.
The exhaust was on sports mode at all times – the V10 sounds just too great to silence it. Driving an Audi R8 in the city is not the greatest idea but it was inevitable so we tried to make the best out of it. The Engine with its 610 bhp is extremely powerful. It has enough power in all rpm stages, even overtaking at 50kph in 7th gear was quicker than with any normal car in a lower gear.
The sound while accelerating to the allowed speed in the city was awesome. Such a deep powerful noise coming from the rear. The fuel consumption, well, we had a quick look and saw about 31 liters per 100km. “Whatever – did you hear the noise from the V10?”. We knew it would become even better at high rpm, so we took our way out of the city to find some country roads where we could go faster.
One negative thing that we noticed on our way out of Berlin was that the car took ages for the oil and engine to heat up. As a responsible driver I don’t like pushing cold engines, but given this was a brand new car the situation was bound to change once it acquired significant miles. Out of Berlin we felt the potential of this car more and more. 2nd gear, full throttle and opened windows – Vroooom! The R8 V10 Plus goes, goes and goes.
Third gear, fourth gear and the power chain doesn’t stop, complemented by the magnificent sound of the V10 engine. Driving on a curvy country road one could feel how well balanced the new R8 V10 Plus is. The steering is very precise and the setup feels home on those roads. The car’s balance and sports car aspect increased a lot compared to the old R8 and doesn’t need to hide behind competition from Italy and Zuffenhausen.
Back in Berlin, we cruised around in the city. The car attracts attention everywhere. We saw young carspotters that almost jumped in front of the car to take a picture (be careful kids!), and met visitors from Hamburg in another powerful Audi, who had been following us for a while and interested in having a closer look at our ride.
The overall feedback from the people was very positive, which is obvious if you’re driving in an expensive sports car. Even an old grandma who at first was frightened by the loud exhaust, liked it eventually. But our favorite spot in the center of Berlin was a non crowded area – the Tiergarten tunnel. It’s simply the best place in town to enjoy the V10 sound!
Sadly, we had to leave the hotel and return the Audi R8 V10 Plus at the end of the weekend. Needless to say, we enjoyed it a lot!