So, I’m a lucky boy.
Having ranted for months on The Engine Room about how distasteful I find diesel engines, Audi Ireland took note and decided to convince me that I was wrong; that a diesel engine could be excellent.
So, last Tuesday, Humphreys dropped me to Audi Centre in Ballsbridge. Thanks, Dave. Although, I’m pretty convinced he just wanted some of Audi’s fancy coffee!
Patrick took me on a tour of the building and the RS and S ranges and, I have to say, I nearly had to be alone for a few minutes. What greeted me at the top of the stairs were the RS3, RS4, S8, S5 and S7. Mother of Jaypers, I was blown away.
If I had no financial restraint, I think an S8 would be on the cards. I’ve loved that since the movie Ronin and it would be fulfilling a dream to sit in that car every day. The S7 is a serious challenger, as would the RS6, which wasn’t present. Of course, none of these was the diesel car that the lads had decided to wow me with.
That sat outside, gleaming in the miraculous sunshine we were experiencing last week. Humphreys even had his ludicrous blue shades on so it had to be sunny!
The car in question is the Audi A6 BiTurbo. That’s an S-Line, immensely-specced A6 with 20″ rotor alloys and the finest collection of toys I’ve ever seen on a car. These include but are not limited to standard(ish) stuff like Sat-Nav, Bluetooth and a reversing camera. Well, I say a reversing camera. The car is equipped with at least six cameras and these give you amazing security and confidence when attempting to park a car that’s near enough to €90,000 and you don’t own it!
Audi have taken the camera one step further, however. Using wizardry I can only dream of, they have managed to give you one other camera option, which is “Overhead View”. This is achieved by morphing all six cameras’ views together, in real time, into one view. Obviously all the cameras point away from the car, which leaves a big hole in the video image. They’ve taken care of this by dropping a CGI version of your car into this blind spot and you have, for all intents and purposes, an overhead view of your car!
Parking is so simple. In fact, someone, who saw it for the first time this morning, commented that, and I quote, “you’d have to be a real eejit to crash into something in this!” Agreed. It’s amazing.
But, toys aside, we need to get back to the challenge at hand. That engine. Well, it’s a powerful three litre diesel with two, count them, two turbos. This gives you more than 300bhp and torque figures that would embarrass a steam roller. It’s definitely the fastest car I’ve ever driven. The power, a combination of the turbo and all that torque, is simply relentless. All across the rev range, power is just a tap of your right foot away.
So, if the performance is there, what about the tractor noises diesels make? Yes, even the most refined and expensive diesel cars, at low revs, blubber like a daycent Massey and, IMHO, unless you’re doing serious mileage, buying one is a foolish exercise.
Well, Audi have been unbelievably clever here. They seem to have masked most of the actual engine noise and, with the addition of a speaker-system of sorts, the sounds that emanate from the exhausts are actually manipulated and determined by which setting you select. These are available in the Car menu. There seemed to be two of the five that would interest me most. Comfort, which gave the car a kind of V6 sound and smoothed the bumps on the road to almost negligible levels. I suppose on a cross-Continental run, I may consider it.
I spent 99% of my time in the A6 in Dynamic mode, however. This stiffens the suspension and the better-informed among you will undoubtedly tell me there’s more involved but, for me, the most important thing it does is make the engine sound like a throaty V8. I can’t put into words quite how nice this is but, trust me, I never tired of hearing it.
There’s a lot more I could say but I’l leave you with two things.
Firstly, this video:
And, finally, this startling fact:
I didn’t once care that I was driving a diesel.
Job done, Audi. Job done.