If you're looking for an executive load lugger, James Baggott reports you could do far worse than take a look at Audi's A6 Avant
As time with 'my' Audi A6 Avant draws to a close I'm beginning to wonder just what life will be like without it.
You see, I've got a little too used to the massive boot swallowing everything from my ashamed-to-admit-it huge load for the bottle bank, to a weekend's worth of luggage, food and accessories for a family trip to Wales.
But it's not just its ability to consume all that I throw inside it that I'll miss. Above all else what will really be noticeable by its absence is the peace and quiet that journeys inside it bring. I've really noticed it particularly lately – the calm and tranquillity that comes with a trip in the mighty Audi.
It's not only helped by some fantastic sound deadening, but also the fact one of my colleagues nabbed the whistling roof bars for a jaunt in an RS6 and didn't refit them. Couple those with the wonderfully plush air suspension and it means time spent inside the A6 is often time spent relaxing.
I find myself driving slower, settling back to some Radio 4 debate and then wafting along in lane one rather than hustling to my destinations in the fast lane. It's rare for a car to have that effect on me, but the more I drive it, the more I notice it.
My passengers seem more relaxed too. The optional sports seats in the front are superbly supportive and never numb limbs like others can.
Sadly, the white leather has been tarnished by jeans rubbing on the bolsters, but it's nothing a bit of leather cleaner and some elbow grease won't fix. Talking of passengers, they seem to love the A6 just as much as I do.
One of our recently hired apprentices grabbed a lift in it recently and was shocked at just how brisk the 3.0-litre diesel is. With 272bhp it certainly punts along at pace when needs be, especially when you put the excellent S tronic gearbox into 'sport' mode.
In fact, I think that gearbox really is the making of this car, quick to shift and incredibly smooth, it matches the powerplant perfectly.
The Avant still gets plenty of admiring glances at petrol stations and car parks too. The Gotland Green paintwork was a classic choice, I'll give my colleague who picked it his dues there, because it looks simply stunning on the sleek lines of the Avant.
Matched to the sharp grey alloys it looks just as handsome as the RS6 that was driving away with my roofbars on top a week or so ago.
But back to that load lugging capability. A family weekend break to Wales with my six-year-old daughter meant the Audi's load bay was seriously put to the test.
Not only was the standard BBQ, food and beer packed in, but the little one insisted on taking most of her toys, including a scooter, many bears, some horses (naturally) and a clothes bag she'd packed herself.
Thankfully the Audi passed the test with flying colours. I mean if Bertie the Bear and his 45 cousins hadn't been able to squeeze in for the ride all hell would have broken loose.
Thankfully the sat nav worked brilliantly on the way. I love the detail on the screen and the fact it counts down to the next services with icons that let you know what sort of fuel station you'll find and some information on the amenities. Vital stats when planning comfort breaks for a six-year-old and, er, dad.
I did make the mistake at one point, however, of explaining the little 87 in the corner of the screen was the number of miles left to travel. This did mean I avoided the 'are we nearly there yets' but instead was subjected to shouts of 'We've got ONLY 86 miles to go' and so on for every mile until we got to our destination.
Remember what I was saying about relaxation? Despite the three-and-a-half-hour journey to Pembrokeshire taking seven long hours, I arrived for the break relatively stress free.
Ok, that's a small white lie, I may have got a little bit aggravated while queuing for the Severn Crossing, but who doesn't? The sooner that becomes toll free, the better.
Audi have informed me the trusty A6 will be heading back home soon – in fact, I think we have mere weeks left together. In that time, though, I'll certainly be making sure I get as many stress free trips in as possible – because all too soon I'll be back to reality.
Model: Audi A6 Avant Black Edition S tronic
Price: £63,045 (with options)
Engine: 3.0-litre, TDI
Max speed: 155mph
0-60mph: 5.5 seconds