Abt R8 GTS vs. Holmer Terra: Whacked-out Comparison
They are as Bavarian as pretzels and "haxn", have over 600 hp and are severely efficient: the tractor and the sports car. A whacked-out comparison.
"There are traffic congestions on your designated route," purrs the voice of the GPS, adding: "There are no alternate route recommendations." Sensational! A U-turn here? In the heart of Munich? Not a chance, not with the Holmer Terra Variant, all-wheel steering or not. Holmer how? We're arguing in the cockpit about who had the cockamamie idea to cruise up and down Munich's famous Leopold Street in Europe's biggest tractor. We couldn't care less about the cab drivers swearing at us. Nor do we care about the traffic jam behind us – even though we're the cause of it.
At least they share colour and power
How to shrink a public service vehicle? Place it next to a Holmer Terra Variant.
And what's a slurry truck – excuse me, a system tractor – weighing 17 metric tons, doing in downtown Munich? Has AUTO BILD gone totally bonkers this time? Okay, Bavaria's biggest dudes – the Abt R8 GTS and the Holmer Terra Variant 600 – have more in common than you think, at least on paper. 611.5 hp versus 603.6 hp; both cost about the same as an apartment in a quiet Munich suburb. Sounds okay, doesn't it? Even if they have to get on outside their natural habitats? The funny thing about the Terra: no funny smell because it massages the manure directly into the ground, preventing the precious methane gas from evaporating on the ground. Nothing short of an agricultural revolution, says Holmer. Fact is: It's easy on the nose – and it helps the climate, because where nothing smells bad, there's greenhouse gas evaporation, either.
Handling of the 17-tons-monster is easy
Despite its physical size, the Holmer is so surprisingly easy to handle it's almost child's play. There are pedals for clutch, brakes and gas, and only using the joystick to select from the multitude of propulsion modi causes some frowns, though you get used to it. One example is the Terra Variant's soil conserving "dog walk": The rear axle moves laterally out of line with the front axle, giving each wheel its own track. "Nice toy, isn't it?" asks farm machine mechanic Stephanie Lorenz (19) before beginning our instruction in how to drive the Terra Incognita. How right she is! Only it doesn't help in downtown Munich.
The Abt R8 GTS, on the other hand, does only one thing well, and that is to be fast – up to 199 mph fast. Zero to 62 mph in 3.6 seconds. The top model from the tuning maestros of the Allgäu region delivers its immense power almost casually thanks to Quattro and coilover suspension. It also puts that magical Alpine glow into the eyes of the lucky driver.
This car drives money
The Abt isn't the only one wondering what it’s doing here. Farmer Weigl lacks the stable capacity for over 600 loud horses.
Yes, it's a perfect fit for a chic Munich town palais (558 Euros per square foot) or Dubai or Monaco – and for every race track in the world. This time, the wide tires of Abt's open-top model are tackling Upper Palatia, the home of the Holmer Terra Variant about an hour out of Munich. The Abt drives on ahead, as the Holmer needs much more time for its homeward journey. Its top speed is 24.9 mph – which means it has to avoid federal highways and the Autobahn. There are patches of snow on the bald fields on the side of the road; it's been colder already this winter. It's no weather for provoking the Abt R8 GTS, we do it anyway. The tuner managed to tickle an additional 93.7 hp out of the screaming 5.2-liter-V10 – without violating the rules of the Audi factory warranty. No understatement here – not even as an expensive option. While the Holmer turns its earthy origins into a distinct advantage, the brute roadster in its carbon suit proves itself to be the ideal vehicle for open roads free of crawling minivans, and also as a calling card for upper income regions.
Goodbye without resurgence
It's starting to rain, and we're closing the top. Farmer Johann Weigl looks slightly confused by the 340.000 Euro sportscar prowling around his yard at a snail's pace, growling. "Is that one for a sheikh?" he asks, shyly laughing and then leaving us alone. No time for superlatives. Today's the day when the farmer has to separate the five-week-old piglets from the mother sow, and he's got no time for idle petrol chat. He'll return a bit later with a lively dozen in pink, letting them run around the Abt squeaking. Without saying anything, we make a decision: No more pork cutlets. Ever. It's getting dark. Uli Sonntag, the photographer, is packing his equipment, and the farmer herds his piglets. A last glance at the lower slung of the two high-tech animals, and then the red racer disappears in the Abt-Sporstline trailer. It got lucky not having to drive home in this wet and cold weather. The Terra Variant leaves the grounds on its own, but it doesn't have to drive too far. Plus: Not even in "dog walk" mode could it initiate a traffic jam.
The supermodel and the working man have both impressed us tremendously. Which one to chose? Any recommendation will be faulty not only because of budget considerations but also because of steep underground parking ramps and tightly measured garages. Or maybe because of both.