Dazzling drive in new Audi A6 - AUDI A6 Car Review

Review

Added: 06 Dec 2004
Last update:

IT'S not often I get stopped by the police these days - probably because I'm usually driving a new car and look fairly presentable, I suppose.

But I was stopped a couple of weeks ago, when I was driving Audi's very good new A6, because I was driving only on foglights.

Unless its foggy, this is illegal - although you would never believe it judging by the number of cars which drive with their fogs on all the time - but I had been forced into it by poorly adjusted headlights.

The Audi was fitted with the latest Xenon headlights, which are very bright and of which more later.

But they were so poorly adjusted they were dangerous, dazzling other drivers all the time, and I could not find a way of adjusting them, because they were the latest self-levelling type.

Even self-levelling headlights must be properly adjusted to start with - especially if they are Xenons, so to save dazzling everyone coming the other way, I drove on the foglights and got stopped by the boys in blue.

When they heard why, they were fine about it and very interested in the car because they had not seen the A6 close up.

In other ways, the big Audi's headlights are the best ever, because once on the move, they turn with the steering wheel.

Now in the past, this has been little more than a gimmick, and of little actual use to the driver. The A6 changes all that, with lights that seem to help you see round corners!

In country lanes, they are absolutely superb, and the best illumination I have ever driven with.

But please, make sure your headlights are not dazzling everyone else on the road. If you regularly get flashed by drivers coming towards you, your lights are too high.

The A6 is a superb car is almost every other way too. I drove the two wheel drive 3.2-litre V6 S-line with manual six speed gearbox, but if you want an auto, Audi has oddly set the range up so that you have to buy the more expensive 'quattro' four wheel drive version.

I normally prefer auto changing with large engines, as the odd regular reader of these jottings will no doubt remember, but this is the best large engined manual I have ever driven.

It has a slightly notchy gearchange, but the clutch is light and progressive, and changes can still be made almost as swiftly and easily as in a small GTi.

The silky smooth V6 engine has more than enough power on tap to pull happily from low speeds in sixth gear and yet also revs to a heady red line of 6,800.

It's inaudible under 4,000 revs, and from there up, has a gorgeous turbine sound which is hugely addictiove.

Acceleration is so superb from any speed that there would seem little gain in buying the V8 range topper, and some economy to lose.

The handling and roadholding are also brilliant. It clings to the road surface like a limpet to a rock - only with a little more forward motion - and is not upset by mid-corner bumps.

The handling is safe and secure, with tremendous grip and great balance on all kinds of surfaces, helped by power steering which is decently weighted and with fair feel.

The only places where it must give way to the BMW 5-series are in steering feel and in the quality of its ride, which does not do it justice.

This is partly due to sports suspension, and partly to huge wheels with ultra low profile tyres, but in town it's quite unsettled and lumpy, and on country roads at speed, the bumps and undulations are obvious even if they never really lead to occupants' discomfort.

Other marques can do much better without any loss of handling prowess, and so should Audi.

On top of the usual electrical items - central locking alarm etc, it comes with electric seat adjustment, cruise control, loads of airbags all around, rear parking sensors and traction and stability control.

But a multi-CD player is £320, metallic paint is £600 and a hands free 'phone is £400, all of which should be included at this price level.

FAST FACTS

Audi A6 3.2 FSI S-line

Price: £33,095

Mechanical: 256bhp, 3,123cc, 6cyl petrol engine driving front wheels via 6spd manual gearbox

Max speed: 155mph

0-62mph: 6.9 secs

Combined mpg: 28.2

Insurance group: 17

CO2 emissions: 240g/km

BiK rating: 34%

Warranty: 3yrs/ 60,000 miles; 3yrs paint; 12yrs anti-rust

CAR STARS

How does it compare with the rest?

****** = Best * = Worst.

Comfort **

Performance ******

Thirst *****

Handling ******

Safety ******

Equipment *****

Value ***

Fun Factor ******

Overall Rating: *****

Words: Peter Hayward

Keywords: AUDI, A6