The contrast to my life today is clearly stark. I’m back working in an office, in a job that’s on familiar territory and doesn’t test my sanity (well, not often). I am commuting again – an 80-mile daily round trip – but at least I’m doing so in this Audi A6 Avant. Compared to the Aygo, it has four wheels, it’s the same colour – and that’s about it.
But as I hit the static M25 the other morning, I found myself considering this contrast in fundamental terms: just what has such a car added to my life, and now the novelty has worn off, is such luxury worth it?
When I get home at night, having spent in total about three hours behind the wheel, I’m still knackered. But the difference is I’d be completely spent if I was doing it in the Aygo.
Small cars are hard work over distance, especially on motorways. The A6 is a cocoon, the minimal road noise and Audi’s renowned interior finesse creating a calming ambience that soothes away stress, even on the stickiest of journeys. In truth, that novelty hasn’t worn off, and the same can be said for the ride. B-roads were a back-battering chore in the Aygo, but the A6 – even on conventional springs – smooths over all but the worst craters.
On motorways, I always felt vulnerable in the Aygo, a minnow among hulking trucks. It’s noticeable how little respect other drivers are willing to give you in a small car, and that is perhaps the biggest daily difference. ‘Survival of the fittest’ is the worst aspect of UK driving when you are bottom of the food chain.
Now, Audi drivers have their own reputation and one is well aware what others might be thinking as you waft along in a squat, big-grilled, sore-thumb white A6. My tendency to overcompensate by driving with a courtesy that might invoke genuine surprise in fellow road users keeps me amused. But I’m also shallow enough to revel in my new-found higher status… and with 295lb ft under my foot, the ease with which I can extricate myself from clumps of traffic has on occasion provoked smugness. Unattractive, I know, but there you go. I’m clearly reverting to Audi type.
As touched on in the last report, economy is a marvel, with more than 670 miles eked out of a tank of diesel. Then again, the Aygo was frugal, too – which is entirely its point. No, it’s the torque, comfort and ride that count most. I can’t deny, the A6 just makes life easier to negotiate. So would I go back to the humble life of a road minnow? Actually, yes. Then again, I’ve always revelled in playing the underdog.
But I’m in no hurry when the view from here is so beguiling. It’s human nature to adapt to your surroundings and now ‘premium’ is the new normal I’m intrigued to see how much I start to pick holes in the finer life. That’s human nature, too.