Some days you find yourself driving through some great scenery, but then all too quickly it’s gone. Not today though. Today the cobalt blue lochs, the towering craggy mountains and the windswept heather moors go on and on and on. And it will be the same again tomorrow. Time and time again my breath is taken away by the haunting loneliness, the sheer savage beauty and the utter untamed wildness of my surroundings. And when I fill my lungs again, the air is so sweet, so pure and so clean – just one of the many perks of driving an Audi R8 Spyder through the Scottish Highlands with the roof down.
Our route on day one sees us leave our base near Inverness and head northwest to tackle the famous 626-metre-high Applecross Pass with its near 20 per cent gradient climbs, before running farther north along the edge of Loch Maree to Inverewe. On day two we spear right through the middle of the northern Highlands on near-deserted roads via Bonar Bridge and Altnaharra to Durness, right on the very edge of Scotland. I say the roads are near-deserted only because I happen to be travelling in some very good company, having been fortunate enough to receive an invite from the quattro Owners’ Club to participate in its annual driving tour.
Following a convoy of iconic 1980s and 1990s quattro models through the glens makes for a truly majestic sight. And the haunting cry of all those turbocharged five-cylinder engines carried towards us on the breeze makes the hairs on the back of one’s neck tingle. It’s the perfect acoustic accompaniment to the angry, blood-curdling howl of the R8 Spyder’s 540PS V10 engine mounted behind my shoulders.
Former racing driver Salvador Valiente has been a member of the quattro Owners’ Club for 21 years, and is the owner of a gorgeous 1985 quattro which he bought in 1989. The car has never been restored and is in the same condition as the day it left the factory. ‘I fell in love with the quattro in the early ’80s when I saw the rally cars,’ Salvador tells us. ‘I bought a new model, kept it for two years, sold it and immediately regretted it. That is why I bought this one, which is definitely not for sale – it is just such a beautiful car to drive.’
But you don’t need four wheels to explore the Highlands. At the top of the exceptionally steep and wind-blown Applecross Pass (which was a doddle to summit in the R8), we encounter John Glackin and Ian Green who have come up the hard way – by pedal power – as part of their circuit of the entire Applecross Peninsula. Later, on one of the most beautiful beaches I have ever seen, we meet Mark Yeadon, who is also bracing the gales while mastering the waves they generate. ‘I surf all year round here,’ he tells us with a grin. ‘You could say I’m keen, but maybe I’m just stupid!’ As Mark heads back into the icy sea, I confess I am quite happy to settle into the comfort of the R8 Spyder, turn the heater up to maximum and join the quattro clan for some more dream driving roads.
Written by Angus Frazer. Photographs by Juan Trujillo Andrades