Fleet News

Audi A6 Avant 2.7 TDI quattro SE Tiptronic

Audi

Review

DAVID Beckham has to line everything in his fridge symmetrically, even throwing away odd cans of Pepsi to keep order, while rock band Van Halen ordered that bowls of M&Ms in their dressing rooms had to have all the brown ones removed before they would tuck in.

It’s easy to get obsessive about things being just so, and until living with the A6 for a while I’ve always been rather laid back about life’s little details. But this car is a fiddler’s playground.

The walk down my garden from where I park takes 21 seconds. It then takes a further nine seconds to unlock the door and get inside: a grand total of 30 seconds.

I know this because through trial and error I have programmed the lights on the A6 to stay on that long once the car is locked, illuminating my way home on these dark nights.

Such military precision is possible in the A6 thanks to its brilliant MMI (Multi-Media Interface) system – used to control everything from the stereo to the satellite navigation system, which is so simple to use you can spend an age getting every function just to your liking.

For example, I like the frequency of the rear parking sensor alarm set to a bassy three, the front set to a falsetto eight. The power of the warm air coming out of the central vents should be set at seven, while the telephone volume is at 24 and the sat nav lady talks to me at 18.

Everything is possible with the MMI, and it’s all so easy to use compared to the BMW’s labyrinthine i-Drive and even the similarly convoluted COMAND (Cockpit Management and Data System) unit in the new Mercedes-Benz S-class.

Production editor Trevor Gelken borrowed the car for a night and moaned that to change the seat heater you have to press a button on the dash then twiddle the knob to your desired setting – an unnecessary amount of effort for a simple function, according to him.

He might well be right, but for a newly-inveterate fiddler such as myself, it’s a godsend. I like it set on five, by the way.

The remote boot lid is also fantastically useful, especially if you have your hands full.

A quick push on the key fob sees it give you remote access to the boot as you are staggering across the Waitrose car park (you have to shop at middle-class Waitrose if you have an A6 Avant – there’s a compulsion that comes over you).

However, the anti-trap system is hair-trigger sensitive. If it detects an obstruction, the lid will come to a halt and on some occasions even go into reverse.

But if you are parked, it doesn’t tell you this. One time, I wandered off having pressed the close button and the tailgate stubbornly sat with an opening of about five inches. If you are in the car, it warns you, but there is no audible alarm outside, which would be very useful.

So if you have a full boot, you have to watch it until fully closed, like a parent strictly ensuring that last mouthful gets eaten, rather than just waking away coolly as it does its thing.

The other day, the glovebox jammed. On the A6, there is a big button up by the MMI screen which electrically releases the lid. However, after a few pokes all I got was a buzzing sound and no lowering lid.

This might have seemed an annoyance, but secretly I was pleased: it would mean a trip to the excellent Peterborough Audi, which as well as having the offending glovebox fixed would mean one of its inside-and-out free valets.

Unfortunately, our motoring editor Julian Kirk then poked a finger at the offending button and the lid softly lowered, costing me £6 in car washing in the process. It still sticks from time to time but half-a dozen jabs normally does the trick. I shall have to find a new problem in order to get my valet.

Model: Audi A6 Avant 2.7 TDI quattro SE Tiptronic
Price (OTR): £30,330 (£38,240 as tested)
Mileage: 4,100
CO2 emissions (g/km): 226
Company car tax bill (2006) 40% tax-payer: £364 a month
Insurance group: 15
Combined mpg: 33.6 CAP Monitor residual value: £13,275/39%
Typical contract hire rate: £588
Expenditure to date: Nil

  • Figures based on three-years/ 60,000-miles

  • Click next page for pictures

  • 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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