Fleet News

Audi A6 3.0 TDI quattro SE Tiptronic

Audi

Review

OUR long-term A6 quattro is probably due a birthday cake. It has just celebrated one year with the Fleet News team and has become a firm favourite for anyone wanting to clock up big mileages.

It has tackled the Alps in mid-winter and acted as high-speed transport down to Le Mans to watch its namesake trounce the opposition again in the 24-hour race.

And whatever we have thrown at it, the permanent four-wheel drive 225bhp turbocharged V6 with 331lb-ft of torque driving through a six-speed Tiptronic auto gearbox has just kept blasting onwards.

Ironically though, that same Tiptronic gearbox is probably the A6’s Achilles heel.

Getting the best from its V6 means either selecting Sport mode – prompting gear changes higher up the rev band and sharpening up throttle response – or a sideways tap to the selector while in ‘D’ and resorting to sequential up/down manual-shifting which helps overcome the transmission torque converter’s inherent slushiness and counter the added weight and internal drag of the quattro drive system.

That’s the price to be paid (especially in auto form) to drive all four wheels. Factor in the higher tax liability and lower economy implications over two-wheel drive rivals such as the BMW 530d SE or even Audi’s own tax-friendlier front-wheel drive A6 2.7 TDi and the 3.0 TDI quattro can seem expensive – but all this ignores the A6’s utterly failsafe driving dynamics the others can only dream of.

Twelve months and 19,500 miles on and we’re still waiting for something to fall off or stop working. The interior is squeak and rattle-free, and the leather upholstery still looks, feels and smells new. This is quite a contrast to another ‘prestige’ test car – no longer on our fleet – where the leather on the driver’s seat backrest side bolster showed signs of heavy wear –– and that was half the Audi’s age.

Tyres have been the A6’s one high-cost consumable. Thankfully, there have been no more encounters with nails, but the wear on both front tyres bears witness to the A6’s heavy use, and although they’re still well within legal limits, they’ll need replacing before the onset of winter.

A visit to a dealer is now imminent for the first service, but I’m still amazed at the advances in oil and engine management technology – 6,000-mile service intervals used to be the norm, so 20,000 miles is mind-boggling.

And with safety-related consumables such as brake pads possibly wearing down to the backing plates in a few thousand miles, too much reliance on a dashboard warning light is a bit lazy.

This puts the onus firmly on us all for regular checks while washing the car: a quick visual check of the brake pad thickness through the spokes of an alloy wheel only takes seconds.

Model: Audi A6 3.0 TDI Quattro SE Tiptronic
Price (OTR): £32,445 (£37,025 as tested)
Mileage: 19,566
CO2 emissions (g/km): 229
Company car tax bill (2005/6) 40% tax-payer: £344 per month
Insurance group: 16
Combined mpg: 33.2
Test mpg: 32.5
CAP Monitor residual value: £12,735/38%
HSBC contract hire rate: £630
Expenditure to date: £298.10 (£55 bumper repairs, £243.10 tyre/wheel nut)

  • Figures based on three years/60,000 miles

  • 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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