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|Audi A6 Avant
Tough Work Horse With Power And Style
You Can Even Get Two Bikes In The Back
Why Wont So-Called Royals Drive British Made Toyotas Or Hondas?
Would MG Rover be where it is today if the Royals drove around conspicuously in their cars?
Le Castellet, France
It must have been so easy writing about cars 30 years ago.
The Austin Allegro had a square steering wheel. It also let the rain in, and if you jacked it up in the wrong place, the rear screen popped out.
Then, vying for the title of Worst Car Ever Built was the Morris Marina, which is not surprising given that a Labour government including wrong-about-everything/interfere-with-everything socialist Anthony Wedgwood hyphen Benn was in charge of industrial policy at the time. The Morris Marinas reputation was not helped by being put together by Red Robbo and his lazy, arrogant unionised workforce. Not surprising then that bits fell off a lot, and build quality was awful. Lots to write about though.
That was then. Now we have cars like Audi A6 Avant, which Ive just been driving on the roads around Le Castellet, next to the Paul Ricard race track in the south of France, just behind Toulon and Marseilles.
Trying to find fault with a car like this is tough, although I have come up with a couple of negatives. The build quality was impeccable. The doors shut with a satisfying clunk. I drove the 3.2 litre V6 direct injection petrol version, the 2.4 litre V6 petrol, and the 3.0 litre V6 diesel. The 3.2 litre automatic, with leather seats and heavy with gizmos was simply terrific in every way. The 2.4 litre obviously wasnt quite so responsive, but quite adequate for normal drivers. The 3.0 litre diesel seemed the best of the lot in terms of dynamics. The engine was quiet and powerful. It bombed down the motorways quietly and serenely.
Sheep Not Phased
These are big estate cars, but they felt nimble and sure-footed around the mountain roads near Le Castellet. A huge flock of sheep which engulfed a road and the space around it wasnt in the least frightened by the cars appearance as they slowly moved passed, together with 2 shepherdesses and 3 rams. Im note sure the rival BMW or Mercedes could claim this.
The dashboard has an understated, functional appeal and oozes quality. This is a big car so there is plenty of room in front and in the back. Even the cheaper models offer power windows and mirrors, individual climate control for driver and front passenger, cruise control, wipers which come on automatically when it rains and lights which switch on when it gets dark. Theres a standard 10-speaker CD system as well as Audis Multi-Media Interface.
At launch there are four V6 engines - two petrol and two diesel plus a 4.2 litre V8. The other diesel is a 2.7 litre V6. The 2.4 litre petrol version I drove had the continuously variable Multitronic auto box, which offers 7 speeds if you switch into manual. This works well if you like moving auto boxes into manual mode as you approach roundabouts or motorway exits to shave off speed, or occasionally getting into the perfect gear for maximum power to overtake quickly and safely on country roads when that rare moment arrives.
Being Audi, there are Quattro 4-wheel drive versions available. Other optional extras include adaptive air suspension, automatic tailgate opening, adaptive cruise control, and adaptive lighting
Audi says that the A6 Avant is the sportiest and largest estate in the executive class, although its 1,660 litres of folded down space isnt as big as the Mercedes E class. According to Audi
Lots of thought has gone into making the load carrying capacity more flexible and safe, so there are movable lashing posts, rails, cargo nets, adjustable belts and an aluminium divider. There is a special cycle rack which attaches to the floor mounted rails to carry two bikes.
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