That means the first service will come at about 22,000 miles under the variable service programme – the first time the car will visit the workshop during our tenure. In that time, I haven't even had to add any engine oil. Save for topping up the windscreen washer fluid, the bonnet has remained resolutely shut. There's also still plenty of tread left on the tyres, which is good news as these will not be cheap to replace – the downside to going for the handsome 17-inch alloy option.
It makes an interesting comparison with my family's old Subaru Forester which needs a service every 7,500 miles – absurd by today's standards. In a nutshell, it means my Forester will need almost four services to the Audi's one.
When we first got the Audi, I said I would keep a close eye on how the champagne-coloured interior stood up to everyday wear and tear.
Now, with more than 17,000 miles recorded and a very dirty winter nearly past, I can say, against our worst fears, it's not bad. The key problems have not, as we thought, been with the fawn-colour carpet – which still looks great – but with various bits of trim. In particular, the alloy surround to the gear selector is too easy to scratch and there's a really irritating creak from the passenger door casing.
The constant through-flow of new test cars here at Fleet News gives us the opportunity to keep track of the latest technical advances.
Most interesting is the progress that has been made in refining diesel clatter, and rival manufacturers are beginning to show that the 2.5-litre V6 TDI engine in the A6 is falling behind its rivals in the silence stakes. At idle, it's particularly noticeable compared with, say, a Mercedes-Benz CDI or BMW diesel, though on the move it is pretty well indistinguishable as a diesel. No doubt better sound insulation is something we can look forward to with the new A6, which is now only some 12 months away.
Company car tax bill 2003/04 (40% taxpayer): £232 per month.