A large number of the showcases last week at the Frankfurt Motor Show were by manufacturers anxious to show off their latest no emissions /electric / hybrid ‘concept cars’, we on the other hand were busy trying out the latest Audi A6 3.0 TDI quattro SE.
Different in many ways, but still a car that holds clues to the advancement of motoring.
You see ‘in the future’, like it or not chances are ‘driving’ could be very different to now. For instance, when you join a motorway you might be allocated a ‘space’, then your car will be controlled via a series of GPS and infrared systems until such a time as you need to take the next exit.
There will be no delays, no queues, no accidents, no speeding tickets and even potentially no arguments over directions. Old Folks will turn misty-eyed about the time they could change lanes or overtake on a Motorway, and its coming sooner than you think.
I only mention this because the A6 with its intelligent cruise control, infa red night vision camera, and countless other state of the art features, is not too far from this scenario already.
You get the feeling it’s just waiting for the command from above and it will be there Monday morning first in line on the M25. In fact i’m sure it would have been happier if I had just curled up on the back seat with a good book and just let it get on with the driving.
Technically it is possible to drive this car for long periods without actually doing anything. Set the Adaptive Cruise Control (from £1800 extra) to stay at ’70mph’ on the motorway and should the car in front need to slow down the A6 will keep a safe distance between your vehicles, and if necessary stop completely. Veer over the white line and the Audi Active Lane Assist (£575 extra) will nudge you back safely into your own lane.
All these features are fantastic (and can be switched off), however what they don’t do is allow you to switch your brain off. You might think they could lead you into a false sense of security, personally I found the opposite to be true, if only to keep an eye on things in case they go wrong (thankfully they didn’t).
Such is the smoothness of the ride at 70mph you will have to check the ‘heads up’ speedo because it only feels like you are travelling at around 35mph. Your ride can be adjusted from 4 driving modes, (Comfort, Auto, Dynamic and Efficiency) depending on the type of driving situation you face.
The Tintronic gear system gives you the best of both worlds and while it is a predominately Automatic gearbox, should the need arise for an extra shot of power you can change up and down gears similar to a manual. In reality the 3.0 litre Deisel engine is powerful enough to get you out of most difficult situations without it.
Visually the A6 is actually quite modest to look at, it’s not particularly eye catching, unless you happen to be another Audi owner (in which case you will be transfixed), but it has an air of refinement and quality that is nicely understated. It’s more Aimee Mann power ballad than Lady Gaga Monster, but I do LOVE the All-LED bulb headlights, not only do they look great, they give off a white light more in common with daylight than your regular torch-like headlights.
The interior of the A6 is immaculate and in a different class to all but the very top end of luxury vehicles. The level of detail on the finish of the car inside and out is superb and the Milano leather upholstery is extremely comfortable.
A car like this is isn’t half as much fun without the extras and the A6 has some quite spectacular options to choose from.
If you are into music, go for the Bang and Olufsen audio system, ok it is £6,000 extra, but if you have got the money the sound quality is stunning, especially if you are playing .WAV files from a SD Card (just slot it in) and even at high volumes there in no distortion.
It’s the nearest thing to vinyl you will hear in a car and slightly more practical too.
The Navigation system is the one you will see in new other Audis, VW’s and Skodas, (extremely good) but the A6 has also been designed to sync up with the other technology in your life.
Tether your Smartphone to the A6’s Wi-Fi set up and you can incorporate Google Earth information for everything from weather reports to three-dimensional satellite and aerial images. It adds a whole new level of sophistication to your Navigation, although unless you want a big bill from your provider make sure you have an unlimited data package.
Hooking your phone up via Bluetooth is easy and you can also slot your sim card directly into the dash, copy your contacts to the on-board computer and use the on screen display for making SAFE calls while you are driving.
It will remember your info, so as long as you have got your mobile in the car somewhere you are good to go.
I also have to mention one of several excellent safety features on the A6, the Night Vision Assist (£2,100 extra), a remote infrared thermal imaging camera (see above) that registers heat dissipation in front of the vehicle (eg a person walking along the road at night) and warns you of their presence.
Everything on the car is adjustable from the main console, and for something that does so much, the buttons (and track pad) have been well designed and thought out.
Even a relative technophobe would have little trouble finding their way around and I’ve driven cars with more complicated air conditioning controls.
It has competition in the marketplace from the BMW 5 Series and the Mercedes E Class and while it’s down to personal taste, the Audi is more than a match especially in terms of comfort and technical specs.
If you do a lot of Motorway driving the A6 could be perfect for you and is well worth a look at, personally as good a car the A6 is, I found it just a tad big for me to handle in the bustle of the city.
Audi A6 3.0 TDI quattro SE Specifications
Insurance group: 35E
CO2(g/km) Emissions: 156
Combined MPG: 47.9
0-60: 6.3 Seconds
Top speed: 151 mph
Max. power: 1 PS at rpm: 245/4000-4500
Max. torque: Nm at rpm:500/1400-3250
Transmission: 7-speed S tronic
Price: from £39,110 (some features are available at extra cost)
More info: www.audi.co.uk