Thanks to the use of our long-term Audi, the trip from Peterborough was a breeze – albeit an 18-hour one. Laden to the gunwales with four adults and all the winter sports gear needed for a week in the Portes du Soleil, the Audi laughed in the face of all those bulky SUVs with their ubiquitous top-boxes.
Set on cruise at maximum motorway speed, it sailed effortlessly by in the fast lane as if on wings. Such was its performance that the surprise on reaching Calais was that it actually needed a train to transport it across the Channel.
And so surefooted did it feel that a black-rated piste would probably not have been beyond its capabilities, its four-wheel drive enabling it to stick to the slippery, snowcoated surfaces like glue without the need for snow chains.
The cavernous boot was tested to the limit by the sheer amount of paraphernalia needed to protect its occupants from sub-zero skiing temperatures but I suspect normal quantities of luggage would be swallowed whole without a hiccup and the split rear seats fold forwards to allow for extra-long items.
One minus factor (and there really aren’t many) was the dearth of storage pockets, particularly in the rear – it’s amazing what you need to hand in the way of documents, entertainment and nourishment on a long holiday drive. Otherwise, the rear-seat passengers were completely happy, with plenty of space to stretch their legs.
I didn’t find the sat-nav system as easy to operate initially as previous long-term tester Steve Moody, possibly because of a long-term phobia about actually opening an instruction manual, but once set for Les Gets it did the business with the minimum of fuss, including directions at both Eurotunnel terminals.
A measure of the trip’s success and our admiration for the A6 was that one of our party, a long-term, dyed-in-the-wool Mercedes-Benz stalwart, was actually moved to profess the possibility of a visit to the local Audi dealer at car-change time. His only grouse was that the A6 looked somewhat bland, though that may be part of its understated appeal for some drivers.
Model: Audi A6 3.0 TDI quattro SE Tiptronic auto
Price (OTR): £31,930 (£37,025 as tested)
CO2 emissions (g/km): 229
Company car tax bill (2005/6) 40% tax-payer: £328 per month
Combined mpg: 33.2
Test mpg: 31.3
CAP Monitor residual value: £11,975/38%
HSBC contract hire rate: £627
Expenditure to date: Nil