That makes for a 22,000-mile service interval which compares well with our previous A4 2.5 TDI 180 quattro and shows the benefits of extended service intervals. For many fleets, such an interval will mean no service costs for at least the first year of operation – and it's surprising just what a convenience it is not having to worry about booking the car in, downtime etc.
These intervals are reflected in the pence per mile running costs for the Audi, which work out at 41.1ppm over three- years/60,000-miles, according to CAP Monitor.
That compares with 42.3p/mile for the Mercedes-Benz E220 CDI Elegance estate auto and 42.5p/mile for a BMW 525d SE Touring auto – a saving of £720 over three years compared with the Mercedes-Benz and £840 compared with the BMW.
What those figures don't show, however, is the benefit-in-kind tax saving the Audi's Multitronic transmission can offer against the conventional autos of the other two. With the massive advantage of no variance in carbon dioxide output from the manual model, the Audi's emissions of 192g/km mean a 40% tax-payer will pay £2,559 a year in 2002/3 compared with £3,629 for a BMW 525d Sport Touring auto, with its emissions of 226g/km and P11D price of £32,400 – more than £1,000 less. A comforting figure in anyone's book.
The solidity of the design and build is another of the A6's most satisfying features. Comparing the Audi with the multitude of test cars that pass through the Fleet News office reveals quality and attention to detail you simply don't get on many cars. Things like the night-time 'comfort' lighting in the cabin which casts a subdued orange light around the front seat area to help you find things in the dark, the illuminated internal door handles – surprisingly sensible for partially sighted passengers – or the lidless rigid door pockets that expand to hide small items yet still allow maps etc to poke out of the top.
You get used to the smooth action of all the switches and knobs, the self-supporting bonnet, the beautifully made boot cubby covers, the efficiency of the ventilation system, the quality of the carpet and trim: even the coat hooks in the rear emerge from the roof in one oily-smooth motion.
Of course, not all of this is exclusive to Audi, but I'm afraid it reinforces the love affair most Britain's have with Teutonic efficiency.
When it comes to making cars, the Germans have got it sorted.
Company car tax bill 2002 (40% taxpayer): £213 per month