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Every playground has a bully

ON THE ROAD

There’s a reasonable argument to be made that luxury sedans are quickly becoming artefacts of a past era. With the electric era on the horizon and our own time beset by economic pressures, car manufacturers are under increased scrutiny to sell a utilitarian purpose alongside their vehicles.

Global sales have long anticipated this reality. The SUV has become king: the consumer would rather pack their families under high roofs than onto plush leather for the sake of it. 

South Africa is no different. Pick any recent market data and the cars being moved off of floors are bakkies, hatches and SUVs of varying sizes. 

Where, then, does that leave the Audi A6? A car, it’s worth saying from the get-go, that is near immaculate for what it is. 

First off, the design is pure class. Our test model came in a fresh metallic blue, a colour that invokes an instant youthful vigour, as opposed to the boring business grey ubiquitous to most Audis on our roads. The pearly reflection also helps highlight the chrome finishings that line the frames of the windows. The actual body, meanwhile, features a yawning, gnashing grill — the size of which you’re unlikely to see on another car in this class. Highlighting the rear is the now signature Audi unibrow tail light. The only design element not to like is a perplexing faux outline where you’d expect the ever popular superficial exhausts to be. So … it’s a fake of a fake? 

Inside we have similar layerings of panache. A deceptively roomy cockpit: there’s more than enough space for driver and passengers alike to spread their legs. They’ll be doing so off of crisp leather seats, of course, while surrounding them are metallic finishes that succeed in adding to the desired executive feel. 

There’s no surprises to be found on the dashboard. Audi has essentially maintained the same setup in all of its higher-end cars: a quality infotainment screen hovering above a separate display on which you can adjust the climate settings, pull up a full keyboard and perform other odds and ends. Something a little different in this one is the exceptional placement of coloured lighting along the centre console and doors; it feels as if you’re booting up a spaceship when you climb in at night and click the start engine button. 

Despite all the show, the A6 doesn’t ever consider sacrificing its comfort for any nuttiness. There’s pace here, but it’s more of the smooth, steady variety. One can upgrade from the standard 2.0-litre turbo diesel engine (starting at R913 842) to the 3.0-litre version, but there’s no real reason to do that — if speed is a priority you should probably begin your search elsewhere. There’s also everything you would need here: when the car does get to high speeds it cruises comfortably and with little fuss.

Which brings us to our original dilemma: how will the A6 succeed in an era that is finding less use for a luxury sedan? The answer, simply, is to beat out the competition — even that of your own stable. Take the  A7, a far more expensive behemoth.

Unless you are inexplicably determined to own a saloon vehicle, there is no legitimate reason why you might take that over this option. Its direct rivals — the BMW 5-series and Mercedes-Benz E-class — may similarly have met their match here. The A6 knows what it is and does it perfectly. It’s playground may be getting smaller, but it will reign there as the bully for a while yet.

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Luke Feltham
Luke Feltham is a features writer at the Mail & Guardian

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