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Long-term tests

Audi A6

I can't say I'm much into boats. Even though I used to live only a short walk away from a bustling little riverside repair yard, I have always been, well, all at sea with the sea! But having said that, I do like a good cruiser - especially when it's got four wheels, an auto gearbox and a smooth, silent ride. So ahoy there, shipmates: please salute the good ship Audi A6.

  • Fabulously smooth and powerful engine, great cruiser, huge boot, top-quality cabin
  • Over-firm ride, grabby brakes, electronic handbrake
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I can't say I'm much into boats. Even though I used to live only a short walk away from a bustling little riverside repair yard, I have always been, well, all at sea with the sea! But having said that, I do like a good cruiser - especially when it's got four wheels, an auto gearbox and a smooth, silent ride. So ahoy there, shipmates: please salute the good ship Audi A6.
She's a better cruiser than the QE2, nearly as sumptuously equipped, and packs a serious power punch. In fact, our 3.0 TDI quattro is possibly the finest car I've ever had the pleasure of driving; it's certainly the best, most refined diesel.
I first reported on the Audi last November, when regular readers may remember it was covered in eggs and flour by some Halloween yobs. Since then life has, touch wood, been incident-free for the A6. A chipped front door handle caused in a car wash, a small scratch on the front wing from a shopping trolley and a low oil-warning light coming on - yours truly not checking the levels regularly enough - are the sole glitches.
As you'll see from one of the pictures on the right, I have also neglected to check the power- steering fluid reservoir. But that doesn't seem to have made any discernible difference to how the A6 turns into corners or parking spaces.
All this and more will soon be addressed at the first service. The A6 has clocked up nearly 16,000 miles of mainly motorway driving, and I'm still waiting for the service indicator to light up. The countdown on the in-car computer is predicting I'll need to visit my local dealer at around the 18,500-mile mark. This, I am sure, will be an interesting experience because, having run an Audi before, I know its garages were not up to the quality of the cars. It will be fascinating to see whether the four-ringed aftersales has improved!
The A6 continues to impress hugely in every department, though. Outside, it still draws intriguing glances from passers-by as they wonder about that massive grille, while admiring the car's sleek lines, beautiful alloys and general road presence. And inside, the driver is thoroughly spoiled by the optional leather trim, comfortable sports seats and wonderfully crafted and laid-out switchgear.
Kitting out your Audi like our test car will add around £10,000 to the price. That's extravagant in the extreme. But front and rear parking sensors make shoehorning the saloon into spaces easier than manoeuvring a MINI, while the superb sat-nav is the most intuitive and easiest to master of any I have tried. I reckon the A6's version is better than anything you'll find on the best ocean-going cruiser! David Johns
Second opinion
Driving the Audi from London to the Warwickshire home of Felix Dennis, the owner of Auto Express, was a real pleasure. It's one of the best executive cars I have been in. The seats are comfortable and the air-con perfect - important on the boring M40! And the A6 is so effortless, I had to watch the speedometer. But not only does this car drive well, it's beautifully styled, too. I look forward to seeing the chairman again - just as long as I can take the Audi. Ian Leggett, group finance director

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