It’s July and that means an opportunity to put our long-termer A6 to the ultimate test: the family holiday.
My wife is that most terrible of clichés, the over-prepared mum. After making sure we have everything we need she packs a spare, and then a spare spare. The result is that even the shortest break will test the capacity and suspension of any car.
Fortunately, the Audi is more than up to the task. The cavernous boot swallowed up two massive suitcases, plus the kids’ toy case, coolboxes, camera kit, sports gear, a pushchair and God knows what else with ease. There was barely a rude word uttered as everything fitted in so easily. The same can’t be said for fitting the bike rack but that’s more to do with operator error than the car...
The short trek to our destination took in an hour or so of twisty country roads followed by another hour on the soul-crushing M6. In both environments the A6 proved why it will be sorely missed when Audi eventually reclaim it. On the rural roads it was smooth and composed enough for the youngest to fall asleep quickly and stay that way for the whole journey. On the motorway it was the pinnacle of luxury wafting. Once the traditional “are we there yet?” and “can we have the Ramones?” whinging from the back had subsided the car was a leather-clad den of serenity. The double glazing and massive Bose sound system put paid to any wind or tyre noise and the glorious seven-speed DSG gearbox took all the pain out of slow-moving queues around roadworks.
In fact, the only negative is that for the first time, there was a moment where the 2.0-litre engine felt a bit lacking in power. Getting from 50 to 70mph after slowing for a middle-lane dawdler the car felt a little sluggish, as if its 187bhp wasn’t quite enough. It’s perhaps testament to how good it is the rest of the time that it took being four-up and fully laden for it to start feeling like it’s having to work hard.
The trip computer, which so far has been pretty accurate, showed 38mpg which, given how packed the car was and the number of hills we had to climb, isn’t too shabby for a car its size. Over the longer term we’ve been seeing an average of 44mpg, far from the claimed 64mpg, although one recent trip to family on the west coast did see us hit 57mpg in economy mode. It’d be interesting to see how the more powerful 3.0-litre diesel would compare. On paper it’s less efficient but I wonder if the more relaxed V6 might give better real-world returns.
Apart from the recent jaunt south, the Audi has been busy getting on with the job of being an all-round family motor.
It’s made the day-to-day drudgery of commuting far more pleasant, thanks to the slick auto box, awesome sound system and sound-proofing. It’s undertaken the unavoidable trip to Ikea to collect a new bed and the inevitable return trip to take the wrongly purchased part back and collect the right one. It’s also acted as a builder’s wagon, lugging a hefty load of 2.5-metre-long timber so a creative uncle could build the kids a fancy sand pit.
Sometimes the more time you spend with a car the more you begin to spot its failings. With the A6 it’s still proving tricky to find much wrong. The mirror adjustment defaults to switching on the heated elements, which is silly, and there’s no dedicated ‘skip track’ button on the steering wheel, but I have to admit I’m stretching to find much to complain about.
A few incidental observations
1.The MMI Navigation Plus system is a mixed bag. The lack of a touchscreen feels outdated already and I still can’t get along with the voice control but the navigation part is possibly the best I’ve tested and the in-dash display works brilliantly.
2.Our eldest’s favourite feature is the four-zone climate control. Not only does he get two air vents all to himself but he can set the temperature too.
3.Audi have seen fit to do away with the dipstick. Having to wait two minutes for the car’s onboard computer to check and tell me how much oil’s in the car is an unnecessary faff.
4.The powered tailgate might make me look like a ponce in the car park but I don’t care, I love it.
5.Not fitting electric seat adjustment on a £40k car seems a bit miserly.
6.As does keyless start without keyless entry.