Oh well, I can’t say I’m not addicted to cars. Nobody would believe me. Today is another great example of me in action because I got the keys to a new (not brand new) car again. Since my distance driven each month has increased vastly within the last 6 months I’ve been thinking for a long time of buying another car which would be economical (we do live in Europe where fuel does not grow on trees), comfortable, nice looking and elegant. I’ve been browsing Audis, BMWs and Volvos that are put up for sale here in Estonia and I really didn’t find anything that would fit my needs regarding color, interior, equipment and engine. But that was until last Wednesday when I noticed a very nice year 2005 Audi A6 and at a very fine price. I couldn’t help myself but go have a closer look at it. It was imported from Italy (I know, the traffic there can be horrible) but both the exterior and interior really impressed me. It was more or less THE EXACT car I was looking for. I went for a test drive, liked it, took a friend of a friend car salesman with me to have a critical look at it, then had it inspected for faults professionally and I finally decided to buy the car. I got it into my hands today at about 2 PM and I did several test drives with it before I came to work at the Air Traffic Control center.
So, it’s a year 2005 Audi A6 Quattro with a 3.0 litre V6 turbo-diesel engine. The color is metallic black (ofcourse black, as you see I just love this color!) and to those of you who are not familiar with European cars, A6 is a German manufactured so called executive car which is a perfect driver’s car and in size it fits between the smaller A4 and the larger A8 luxury car. Quattro means all-time four wheel drive and this is really a very good feature in our climate since we do tend to get a lot of snow during winter. The 3 litre TDI engine is currently one of the best car diesels available and it produces around 225 HP (165 kW) of power and a lot of torque. The fuel economy is around 9 l/100 km (or 26 mpg) in the city and 6.5 l/100 km (or 36 mpg) on the highway which is really a tremendous improvement from any of my previous vehicles. Diesel fuel costs nearly the same here as gasoline so it doesn’t matter what fuel it drinks.
The interior is what I’d call beige and it’s ofcourse real leather. All the interior panels fit perfectly with that color and it’s very comfortable to be in there indeed.
So, first impressions… unlocking the car is done with a button on the ignition key and you barely hear the door locks noise which is accompanied by a couple of turn signal blinks. The doors open very gently and they also close smoothly. No smashing is necessary. Sitting inside, there is a leather-covered beige steering wheel with several buttons on it for the stereo control and so on. The key is inserted to the dashboard on the right side of the steering wheel and as soon as you insert the key, some of the systems power on, the LCD monitor becomes live and the stereo begins to play. The seat is really comfortable and can be adjusted in all sorts of directions, in addition you can pump or empty two separate parts of the seat back to make you feel great also on a longer trip. When you turn on the ignition, you wait for the diesel pre-heat light to extinguish and then you just need to rotate the ignition key momentarily to the start position which initiates the automatic start-up sequence. Once the engine is running, you are informed on the instrument cluster display if there are any issues with the car requiring your attention. If not, it just reminds to press the brake pedal when switching out of Park. My car has got a 6 speed automatic transmission with Tiptronic feature so it also allows you to override the Drive mode and select the preferred gear manually. The shifter moves very precisely and easily and Drive engages with no bump at all so you just release the brake and off you go. If the usage of the dedicated Parking Brake is required, this car has got a very elegant solution for this – you have no manual parking brake handle anymore but just a switch on the left side of the shifter which you either pull up to engage the brake or push down to disengage it. The mechanism is fully automated. Beginning to drive, you ofcourse feel that it isn’t a V8 gasoline engine but a turbodiesel which means that it takes a tiny bit longer response time before the demanded acceleration occurs. I got used to this very quickly. Shifting is really unnoticeable – it’s just so smooth even if you accelerate at full throttle. That is ofcourse quite a lot of power and really pretty unnecessary in your everyday driving conditions. The brakes are stunning – there’s no dead zone and whenever you touch the brake pedal, something instantly happens. I’m used to “priming” the brake with a little push on the Suburban before ANYTHING happens and then advancing it to the required level. The Audi does exactly what you wish for with no delay. Steering is extremely precise and pretty firm on faster speeds while soft to steer when maneuvering. The noise level at any legal speed is LOW. The diesel engine is really quiet and not heard to the inside at all when accelerating normally. On highway you only hear the tire noise which is also rather low level.
Comparing to the American cars… Well, there is no comparision because they really are VERY different things. Audi is a great example of the precise German engineering to every single detail but American cars are simple, reliable and rugged although with not so many features and possibilities. The Suburban is really a truck – it takes quite a bit of time to accelerate all the weight to desired speed unless you push on the pedal which wakes up the V8 in its completeness and does what it was designed for. It’s not so simple and problem free to drive as the Audi because it is very big, has got its own little tricks you better know before going on a longer drive with it and it’s simply not so sophisticated. This is rather good since it also adds reliability.