Audi A6 2.8 FSI 2008 Review

February 17th, 2008 by Darren Cottingham

Audi A6 FSI 2008 fq

Prepare to turn right. Please turn right. Please do a u-turn if possible. Well, it wasn’t possible, because I was on the Esmonde Rd on-ramp deliberately taking a quicker route than the exceptionally polite satellite navigation system knew. The sat-nav is a very interesting and welcome addition to the A6 and its soft, feminine, educated UK accent makes the fact it doesn’t know the short cuts inconsequential.

The sat-nav display is situated on a screen in the centre of the dashboard, which also serves as the focal point for adjusting functions available within the Audi MMI (Multi Media Interface) Using a combination of a data wheel and buttons, users can navigate through the screens to choose radio and TV stations, CD tracks, and tailor just about every aspect of the car to their discerning needs. The dual air conditioning and heated seats retain a separate control interface whereby a dazzling number of configurations can be chosen for where the air is going, and what temperature it is.

I like fiddling with gadgets, so the opportunity to spend a week with a car like the A6 is appealing. Of course, I’m not going to read the manual, so I was still finding new screens on day five. That’s like five days of Christmas.

One of the things that was immediately apparent to me in the A6 was that I really liked being in it. This week I’m going through an executive phase and the A6 is perfect for turning up to meetings — sleek, salubrious and perfectly chilled in the summer heat, having watched a bit of TV at the lights on the in-dash screen.

In fact, I feel like I should be wearing a suit. Sitting at traffic lights in Herne Bay an elderly gentleman questioned my age (33), assuming that someone of my youthful looks wouldn’t be able to afford a car that looks more expensive than it actually is.

The line of evolution goes back to the Audi 100 range produced from 1968 to 1997 in four iterations. The name was changed to A6 to align with international branding. Series 1 Audi 100s (C1) produced in 1968 had front wheel drive and produced a paltry 80bhp, 130 less than this new quattro 4WD A6’s aluminium V6 engine, and 355bhp less than its bigger brother the S6.

210bhp is never in jeopardy of overwhelming the quattro four-wheel drive system that puts its power through the optional wide 225/35R18 wheels, and the large sedan will reach 100 in an acceptable 8.4 seconds. The six-speed auto ‘box has a sports mode and sequential manual mode, and there’s a self-locking central differential for additional grip and safety.

The V6 is quite quiet, even under acceleration, and it will whisk the car to a top speed of 237kph (it’s interesting that the cruise control can be set to 250kph, despite the car’s top speed.) Doing that won’t get you anywhere near the Audi’s claimed 9.7l/100km economy (I recorded 9.9l/100km, which isn’t far off).

The one flaw in this Audi is that it feels as if it’s been hewn from a boulder of igneous rock. It’s solid. Very solid. And it feels heavier than its 1680kg would suggest. A combination of factors cause this: the steering is slightly heavy (but not overly so), the bonnet bulges out in front of you, it doesn’t make a thunderous fuss about getting up to speed, and the quattro four-wheel drive system feels like its pushing in the slower corners. This sense of size is confirmed when you check out the size of the boot, which is so large it has reverb, and the room available for the back seat passengers.

But let’s go back to the navigation system. These days you don’t need a map book with a sat-nav system. In the Audi’s case a small unit sits out of the way in a compartment in the boot and houses a navigation DVD. The system knows where you are, so all you have to do is enter in your destination. The sat-nav can be set do calculate the quickest or shortest route, avoid motorways and ferries, and include stopover locations. For example, a stopover location can be set at Matamata if you want to travel that way from Auckland to Taupo, rather than via Cambridge.

The total trip distance and an estimated arrival time are provided, both of which update in real time if you make a diversion or travel faster/slower than expected.

An extremely useful function is special destinations. This allows you to select petrol stations, hospitals, car parks, and other useful generic places either in your immediate vicinity, or in the vicinity of your chosen destination.

At $109,900 the Audi packs a lot of punch. This is the base model and (because the S6 is $195,000) I really can’t see why you’d need to go any further up the range. I’d even be tempted to buy an A6, it’s that good.

Click through to the next page to view detailed specification of the Audi A6 sedan.

Price: from $109,990. Price as tested (with optional 18-inch wheels, TV reception, iPod preparation and heated seats, $114,200)

What we like

  • I’m now a corporate player
  • Enormous boot
  • Lots of toys — TV, sat-nav, endless controls for the car
  • Comfortable
  • Plenty of power
  • Quiet ride

What we don’t like

  • Feels heavy and large (because it is — 1680kg and 4.9m long)
  • You’ll want those 18-inch wheels
  • Odd pricing: TV reception = $2,600, Audi advanced parking = $1,500, but you can buy them as a package for $2,500.

Words and photos Darren Cottingham

Technical

Cubic Capacity: 2773

KiloWatts/Hp: 154/210

Torque (Nm/ rpm): 280 / 3,000 – 5,000

Cylinders / Valves Per Cylinder: 6/4

Fuel Injection system: FSI (Direct)

Drive Train: quattro

Transmission – Tiptronic With DSP & sport program: 6 speed

Servotronic Steering assistance

Suspension: Std

Acceleration 0-100 km/h (secs): 8.4

Top Speed (km/h): 237

Fuel consumption combined in l/100km: 9.7

CO2 emission: 231g/km

Audi Cover Assistance – 3 Year Cost Free Motoring

Galvanised Body – 12 Year Anti-Corrosion Warranty

Safety and Security

ABS with EBD (Electronic Brake Pressure Distribution) and Electronic Brake Assist

ASR Traction Control System, with EDL – Electronic Diff Lock and ESP

Front Passenger Airbag Key Deactivation

ISOFIX Child Seat Anchorages Front & Rear

Active front head restraints

Driver & Passenger Airbags, Side Airbags Front And Rear, and Sideguard Head Airbag System

Head Restraints Front & Rear

Anti Theft Alarm With Interior Surveillance and Vehicle Immobiliser

Exterior

Alloy Wheels: 18″ 7 Spoke Design

Tyres: 245/40

Auto Headlight activation with rain sensor, coming-home and daytime driving mode

Automatic dimming exterior Mirrors – Electric & Heated with Memory function

Full Size Spare Wheel

Headlights Halogen

Interior

Air Conditioning with sun sensor & humidity sensor

Auto Dimming interior mirrors

CD Changer for MMI

Cruise Control

Dash Inserts Walnut Digital Sound Package

Electric Front Seats with Lumber and Drivers Memory

Electromechanical Parking Brake

Front Centre Armrest

Height And Reach Adjustable Steering Column

Illuminated Vanity Mirrors

Interior Trim Volterra Leather Leather Gear Shift

Leather Multifunction Steering Wheel with shift paddles

Mobile Phone Preparation with Blue Tooth

Multi Function Trip Computer

Multi Media Interface (MMI)

Parking Aid in front and rear

Split Folding Rear Seat

Storage Package

Audi Q7 4.2 TDi Quattro S-line 2007 Review

December 8th, 2007 by Darren Cottingham

Audi Q7 2007 fq

I was glad I had Audi’s Q7 4.2 TDi Quattro S-line this weekend. Its voluminous carrying capacity was put to good use transporting our band’s equipment to a daytime gig in the Waitakeres. I wouldn’t usually use a $150,000+ car to do something as mundane as act as a workhorse for my musical obligations, but it made sense because it will carry a lot, and it gave me a chance to drive it on narrow, twisting roads. In everyday guise, the Q7 will seat seven people, five of them in absolute comfort, and the two right at the back in moderate comfort, as long as their legs aren’t too long. Fold the seats flat and it’s large enough to haul a lot of gear, though the boot aperture itself is not large because of the high floor.

A neat trick that the Q7 has up its ample sleeve is adaptive air suspension. Using a button in the boot you can make the car squat by 55mm to make loading easier. There are five suspension levels, and the car is able to be raised considerably to enable quite severe off-roading to be attempted. In fact, the suspension has 95mm of variation, though other than the loading mode, the lowest ones are only activated at sustained high speed (120+ and 160+kph).

Another great function for loading is the automatic tailgate — it will raise and lower at the push of a button.

With a mammoth 760Nm of torque and 240kW the 2450kg Q7 has a startling turn of speed, achieving 100kph in just 6.4 seconds. This goes some way towards hiding its large dimensions, but you’re still aware you are driving a car almost two metres wide and 5.1m long.

Our test car was fitted with the optional 21-inch alloys with 295/35 tyres. Push the Q7 hard and it understeers like you’d expect a large SUV to. But the Q7 is a car that is most pleasant to cruise in. It is supremely comfortable to drive or be a passenger. Leather seats all around have six-setting heaters and electric position and lumbar settings at the front. The second row of seats reclines. Dual climate control with sun and humidity sensors and multiple vents in the rear keep the cabin temperature just right, and there is a plethora of bottle and cup holders for all seats.

Audi has done a great job of ergonomically designing the controls for the Q7. While there are over 60 dials and switches within the driver’s reach, many of the more intricate functions are carried out using Audi’s MMI display in the dashboard, which warrants a manual of its own. A dial and buttons placed just in front of the central binnacle allow easy scrolling and selecting of options for audio and car settings visible on the screen.

The audio system itself has a fabulous sound. My usual test CD (Gladiator soundtrack) filled the cabin with the full range of deep ominous double bass through to sparkling and delicate dulcimers and windchimes. The test car’s optional Bose eight-speaker system will accept an iPod input and display track listings and other information on the MMI’s screen. This screen also can function as a TV display with the optional TV reception kit, it will integrate with your mobile if it’s Bluetooth-enabled, and it is the centre of Audi’s parking assistant.

A relatively distortion-free reversing camera displays what is behind you with two animated lines that react to steering inputs showing the driver where the Q7 is turning. There are proximity sensors both front and rear and a superimposed diagram of the Q7 shows whether you are getting close to obstacles. Individual sound boxes positioned around the car beep more and more frenetically to give you a spatial awareness of which corner’s pristine paint finish is in jeopardy. The system is good enough to manoeuvre in tight spaces without even looking outside of the car.

The screen allows you to see if children are standing behind you

The optional Lane Change Assistant is welcome on a long car like this. The system incorporates a small light on the inside of the wing mirrors. If a car is moving into your blind spot, the light illuminates softly. If you indicate to move into the lane it flashes brightly as a warning.

As well as that very obvious safety feature the Q7 features ESP (with an additional towing stabilisation mode that will attempt to correct an out-of-control trailer), the usual ABS, EBD and EBA, and a swag of airbags including a full length curtain airbag right to the back of the car.

So that covers just a small slice of what the Q7 does. The two manuals are an inch thick between them, and the options list is extensive. A new owner could be immersed in menus and settings for hours, fine tuning the parameters.

There really isn’t anything much to complain about with the Q7, as you would expect for a car in this price bracket. It has everything you would expect in terms of safety and performance and if you’re in the market for a large, plush SUV which will pull a heavy load (well over three tonnes if the trailer is braked), this ticks all the boxes.

Price: Q7 range from $122,900. Base for this model: $151,900. As tested $158,100

What we like

  • Power
  • Noise
  • Parking/reversing assistant (it’s essential with a car this size)
  • Lane change assistant (optional)
  • Towing ability
  • Comfort

What we don’t like

  • Small boot aperture (if loading matters to you)
  • Lose something down the side of the front seats and it’s almost impossible to extricate (minor, I know)

Words and photos Darren Cottingham

Audi TT 2007 – road test

September 25th, 2007 by Darren Cottingham

Audi TT 2007 fq

At the risk of copping an enormous amount of flak, the Audi TT is like Alanis Morissette’s second album, Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie. Her first album was almost too easy to like. It was chock full of instantly catchy songs, and her fresh new voice. But when you’ve got to follow a record like that up, what do you do? You make something insidiously rewarding where you have to make more of an effort to like it. Now, I’m not for a minute suggesting the previous incarnation of the Audi TT was like Alanis Morissette’s first album — it wasn’t a jagged little pill — but what happened with the second album was that the first time I listened to it I didn’t really like it. The brilliance was hidden.

My first Audi TT experience was a medium-slow meander through Grey Lynn back to the office. It’s a journey that begins with the nothingness of Great North Road topped off with the mediocrity of Richmond Rd via the shops. No twisty bits; no last-minute braking into a tight left-hander; no tearing through the gears with the exhilaration of knowing you can do it again after the next corner.

I reported back to the troops: it’s “OK” I said, “nothing special.” But how wrong I was, because I wasn’t listening to the harmony and subtle counterpoint; I hadn’t scraped beneath the veneer and polish of the Audi’s mix.

On the third listening I realised it was a truly deep album and that more listening was required to unlock its secrets. Look past the annoying bits — like that gaspy thing she does with her voice far too often. The problem with the Audi is that it’s just far too much like a competent, comfortable car in town — easy to drive, easy to park, and it’s a head-turner — but release the Audi from its urban constraints and suddenly the melody rises from the background, the song enters your lungs and exits in unison with the car via your hands.

All 147 kilowatts of the two-litre four-cylinder turbo tug at the tarmac, reined in by the all-to-frequently engaged traction control, and it’ll get to 100kph in 6.5 seconds. I don’t ever remember turning a stereo off to specifically hear a gearchange before, but using the S-tronic dual-clutch six-speed sequential (optional on this model, but standard on the 3.2-litre version) you can control the changes with paddles on the steering wheel or by pushing the gearstick backwards and forwards, and it gives almost a sonic thud between the shifts that are in themselves so quick it’s like there’s no pause. Even if you employed Chuck Norris to move a conventional gearstick with one of his faster-than-lightning punches, it wouldn’t change as rapidly as the Audi.

Keep the Audi at less than full throttle and you’ll only experience the tyres massaging the tarmac; beyond there, 280Nm induces torque steer out of slow corners, despite the 255/35R19s on all four corners.

This soft-top version can lower or raise the hood in 14 seconds while you readjust your hair and put on your shades. Cruising around town is a breeze (no pun intended), but it really needs a better wind deflector for motorway driving because in a crosswind it’s like driving along being gently patted in your left ear.

Audi loaned us an S-Line version, which has the larger mags (19 inch with 255-width tyres), and an uprated stereo.

On the interior you get supportive and embracing leather seats. They’re height adjustable, but not electric. The waistline is high, giving you a real sense the car is enveloping you. A flat-bottomed fully adjustable steering wheel contains controls for audio, while cruise control is on a stalk.

Instrumentation is a standard Audi red on black screen. Behind the seats is a large area, but it can only be accessed using a small aperture between the seats. The boot area is generous for a car this size that has to accommodate a folding roof.

Exterior styling is graceful, while being slightly muscular. At the rear a small spoiler extends from the boot lid. It can be controlled from within the cabin.

The construction is an aluminium spaceframe which adds to body rigidity. Safety features include ABS with EBD, stability control (ESP), seatbelt pretensioners and front and side airbags for passenger and driver. An alarm and immobiliser come as standard.

It’s unfortunate that the best part of the car — the gearbox — will remain unappreciated by the majority. If you can stretch another twenty grand, you can have the 3.2-litre V6 with 184kW, 320Nm of torque, magnetic ride suspension (optional extra on the 2-litre model) and four-wheel-drive.

Price: from $84,500 (manual) (S-Line options $88,500); $88,500 (S-tronic), $92,500 (S-tronic + S-Line). 3.2-litre quattro from $105,900 — 113,900.

What we like

  • Styling
  • Power
  • Handling
  • Oh, and the amazing gearbox
  • Very effective seat warmers

What we don’t like

  • Front-wheel-drive means torque steer
  • Lack of storage cubby holes
  • Electric seats are optional, not standard

Words and photos Darren Cottingham