Fleet News

Audi A6 Avant 2.5 TDI Sport Multitronic - 14,865 miles



A RECENT family holiday to the Alsace region of France saw the Audi cover a little over 2,000 miles in four days without so much as a hiccup or a blip in normal fuel consumption.

The entire trip, which comprised mainly motorway cruising at high speed, returned an average of more than 38mpg – not bad at all considering the return leg saw the car loaded up with the inevitable pre-Christmas booze.

As a continent-crushing mileater, the A6 takes some beating. Comfortable seats and serene high-speed cruising make for a relaxed experience, while the Multitronic gearbox is a fine partner for stress-free motoring.

I have taken to checking the A6's engine oil level on a weekly basis recently, not because the car has started using oil, but because in the 15,000 or so miles we have now covered I have not had to add a drop. One does tend to get suspicious, especially as our previous A4 2.5 TDI 180 quattro needed a top-up in between services on at least one occasion.

The cold snap has revealed two things about our car: first, grip from the 235 section tyres on snow is hopeless, causing the ESP and ABS to work overtime to keep everything in check.

Second, the Multitronic gearbox can be somewhat lethargic until the engine reaches normal operating temperature. It's only for a few minutes after a cold start, but it makes slow-speed manoeuvring difficult as it's harder to judge when the transmission is about to 'bite'.

Admittedly, any car with wide tyres is going to suffer a lack of grip on snow, so this is not any fault of our car, but those who have complained about the momentary hesitation in progress from a standing start with Multitronic may find this a further irritation.

Nevertheless, as I have said before, the benefits of this gearbox far outweigh these minor failings.

In fact, Audi is struggling to meet demand for Multitronic-equipped cars on some of its ranges and I'm not in the least bit surprised. Those familiar with it will realise there is no variation in fuel consumption or carbon dioxide emissions from the equivalent manual model – and that pays massive dividends on operating costs and the driver's personal benefit-in-kind (BIK) tax liability.

When the lower carbon dioxide emissions threshold reduces from 165g/km to 155g/km in March, all qualifying cars will, effectively, see a rise in their BIK tax banding of two percentage points.

In a nutshell, that means tax liabilities and Class 1A NIC charges will rise, once again highlighting the importance of choosing a fuel-efficient, clean-burning car. And this is where Multitronic scores: whereas traditional automatics incur a penalty on emissions and economy, Multitronic cars are unaffected.

As an example, a 40% tax- payer choosing the A6 will pay £2,559 a year in tax 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.

As I write, the A6 is having a bike rack fitted. Not your average strap-on-the-boot type rack, you understand, but Audi's typically well-engineered device that fits on the roof rails and enables you to load the bike at road level before swinging it up to the roof.

I'll let you know how we get on with it next time.

Company car tax bill 2002/03 (40% taxpayer): £213 per month

CO2 emissions and fuel consumption data correct at time of writing. The latest figures are available in the Fleet News fuel cost calculator and the company car tax calculator.

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