Safe at Any Speed
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This, it seems, is precisely the effect the car’s driver, David Champion, Senior Director of Consumer Reports Auto Testing, has in mind. “With some cars the tail will swing all the way around and you’ll go off the road or hit something coming the oth er way,” he says.
Consumer Reports Test Track
Champion is accustomed to this kind of driving; his father was a tire engineer for Goodyear and he recalls going to test tracks in England as a boy and seeing the orange pylons flying everywhere.
He would have no such issues today; the Audi’s brakes and suspension enable Champion to keep the car moving in the intended direction and we continue motoring down the track looking for the next predicaments – skids, panic braking, and side to side careening – before turning back to the man’s garage. Anywhere else in the country — say, a highway or a back country road – this kind of driving would be discouraged if not illegal. But not here; for automotive designers, engineers, executives, and car buffs around the world this is hallowed ground, the 327-acre Consumer Reports Test Track in Colchester, Connecticut.
At first glance the track looks much like any other but unlike garden variety ovals this one isn’t intended to coax drivers to pulse-pounding levels of speed and high performance. Au contraire, it’s all about safety, reliability, convenience, economy, and comfort. “When we’re driving the track we don’t look for the best line through a curve,” said Champion. “We’re trying to drive the way the average driver might.”