8 JUNE 2015
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On Test with Ted Wilkinson of The Guild of Motoring Writers
All Road Audi - Versatility Plus Luxury
Buying a premium grade car can be exciting, once one has ascertained adequate funds, the task can also be exacting as one draws up a list of priorities.
Judging by the number of large 4x4 cars observed on the road, that form of transmission seems to be top of a lot of many drivers' lists though I often wonder if they buy for the body image or for the off-road potential.
Of course, when grandly furnished large 4x4s first came on the scene I was of the opinion that this was just the vehicle for the rural user, perhaps a farmer that also had to scrub up smart on occasion for that hunt ball.
It did not take long for that thought to drift out of my mind though, the virtues of all wheel drive vehicles i.e. superior road grip, braking competence, overall stability, remain, in my view, convincing arguments for seeking out such a transmission system.
Among the 50+ variety of cars in Audi’s ever increasing range that includes large 4x4 off-roaders and 4x4 Sports Utility Vehicles (SUVs) are some conventional looking cars that mainstream as front wheel drive models but can also be specified with Audi’s highly rated and highly proven quattro 4x4 transmission.
It proved a world rally dominant system back in the 1970s when the original quattro was launched, that had pretty awesome performance even in road trim.
So here is an alternative that I suggest has dignified class (recently I spied HRH Prince of Wales driving an example) the Audi A6 All-Road quattro V6 Turbo that is obviously based on a practical though hardly head turning, estate style body shell but don’t be misled, performance-wise there is a lot of kit here.
As with all Audi car products, the options list is seriously long and the test example I drove, had about everything from Audi’s parts store and boutique added to bump up the core price by at least a third creating an interior ambience, without relying on any fussy frills, essential to attract the well-heeled and hyper particular user. It also included a lot of advanced driving aids.
Of course, there is an abundance of leather, walnut inlays, rear privacy glass, a panoramic glass roof, a head-up display that shows actual speed, the prevailing speed limit and the next direction (when close) of the chosen satellite route. Usefully, the next three directions are shown on the main display panel.
Accessing the driving seat is a welcome invitation, the Sports ultra-supportive contouring and power adjust provided a bespoke figure embrace and the comfortable pedal location and fully adjustable steering column proved noteworthy.
Driver vision is to a high standard, augmented by a crystal clear rear view camera and a parking pack. Even with five very comfortably seated occupants the driver awareness is obviously a paramount feature.
The body size is perhaps a little longer than a large 4x4 off-roader though, importantly I suggest, the body width is more manageable.
Interior space is better than some similarly sized premium rivals and the luggage compartment, accessed via a powered tailgate, is generous in size and practical to load and has adjustable securing facility.
So much for the practicalities and feel good factor, like all Audis, the important aspect is the performance and driver satisfaction.
The V6 turbo diesel is a very quiet and refined unit but whether driven in normal or sport mode through the selectable automatic transmission, the acceleration is quite something, Audi claiming that 62 mph (100 kph) can be reached in a mere 6.2 seconds and that the top speed is governed to 155 mph.
The engine’s efficiency and the inclusion of a Stop+Start system shows up an official combined consumption figure of 50.4 mpg so around the 40 mpg should be a creditable and very sensible target figure.
Yes, the driver of this car is spoilt, the quattro all wheel drive is a harmonious system, efficiently delivering the road grip, braking ability in a very satisfying manner combined with excellent ride qualities and when the going gets tough, the suspension system can be hoisted up to improve ground clearance.
In the earlier days of motoring, a certain car headlamp maker used the slogan ‘King of the Road’, this Audi imparted that message to me.
It is this sort of experience that has proven to me that Audi has based its burgeoning sales success on creating appropriate cars for discerning buyers.
MAIN RIVALS: Subaru Outback, Volvo XC 70.
STAR RATINGS (out of 10)
Ride and Comfort 9
Price from £46,485 – as tested £68,785.
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