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Is the Audi S8 the world’s greatest getaway car?
TG chats to stunt coordinator for Transporter Refuelled movie on the twin-turbo Audi
A new film will be released in the United Kingdom today. It is called Transporter Refuelled. And like a few other movies of this ilk, its main star isn’t a fleshy humanoid, but nigh-on two tonnes and 500bhp+ of twin-turbo, V8-engined German steel and aluminium. An Audi S8, to be precise.
Top Gear has long held the belief that the S8 is one of the world’s finest –if not the finest – getaway car. It’s almost as if Audi has been uniquely mandated to build the perfect escape machine. Sure, the dynamics don’t match the on-paper spec or promise, but put it in a movie, give it a city to hurtle through and let it loose.
Same story for Transporter Refuelled, which sees series regular Jason Statham replaced with Game of Thrones’ Ed Skrein. Ed plays Frank Martin, a man who uses his 2012 S8 to transport Things. Only this time, the Things he has to transport at high speed around the South of France are three young ladies.
There is a plot, sure, as well as some speaking. Sometimes the speaking makes you cringe. Ditto the plot. But for the first half of the movie at least, it’s all about car chases.
“I have a weakness for cars,” the film’s director Camille Delamarre confessed. “When Michel staged the car scenes, we gave the big car wrecks everything we had,” he added.
Step forward stunt co-ordinator Michel Julienne – a man with rallycross, ice racing, hill climb and circuit racing to his credits – who was tasked with ensuring the chase sequences were up to the task. Including one where the S8 accelerates up a ramp and jumps into an airport. Yeah, exactly.
The stunt drivers included Michel’s son David, and some chaps named Christophe Roblin and Pascal Lavanchy. All three have racing experience, which came in handy in the specially modified S8. Modifications which the eagle-eyed car enthusiast will spot the first time it flagrantly oversteers at high and low speeds. Now if only we could remember Audi’s famous name for its four-wheel-drive system…
“We turned the S8 into a rear-wheel-drive car,” Michel told TopGear.com. “We blocked the differentials to allow the car to drift and burn. We got rid of the power steering too, as well as the anti-skid and ABS systems.”
He then added a rally-style hydraulic handbrake, necessary for all the sideways gratuitousness, and used five S8s for the entire shoot: three modified stunt cars, and two ‘standard’ S8s.
“The problems we faced were mostly related to the S8’s electronics,” Michel tells us. “It is certainly one of the world’s safest cars to drive every day, but it’s a real nightmare for doing stunts with stuntmen!”
Sure, but it hasn’t stopped people from trying. Though Transporter Refuelled isn’t in the same car-chase league as say, Ronin - which you’ll remember also features an S8 - it nevertheless helps cement the lore that the S8 is a fine, fine getaway car.
Tell us below what your ultimate getaway car is, and we’ll feature a selection of the best on TopGear.com next week.