20 February 1998

GERMANS PROMISE YOU CAN HAVE

YOUR CAKE AND EAT IT

CANT have your cake and eat it? Yes you can, provided you opt for the 1.9-litre tdi version of Audis latest A6.

Far from being a lethargic oil-burner, the A6s 110-horse turbo-diesel propels the generously-proportioned saloon from rest to 62mph in about 12sec. And given enough road and time, it will max out at a licence-losing 121mph. But despite all this spritely performance, it will still return up to 70.6mpg (if you can restrain yourself to a steady 56mph).

But the A6 is more fruit cake than fresh cream slice. Noise from the direct injection diesel engine reminds you what youre driving and the strict Germanic interior is more practical than opulent.

At night, youll never struggle to find a control – even the fresh air vents have soft red night illumination. In fact everything glows red, which can make operating the heater control panel a little confusing.

Theres no creaking and groaning from interior trims and theres no shortage of space internally – it does have that "big car" feel. And theres a seriously deep boot, albeit accessed through a narrow opening, which could muddy your trousers if youve got to reach right into the boot space.

Body styling is unmatched by anything else on the market. Its almost a hatchback style in a saloon car package, which gives the A6 its quirky-looking rear end. I cant help thinking some additional styling is needed to lift the flatness of the cars doors and wings when viewed from the side, though.

The verdict: Sloppy gear change is a let-down on a car of this calibre, but the engine will continue to amaze long after youve forgotten about the transmission.

Yes, but will it shift muck? Pristine Audi A6 diesel looks quirky from rear.

AUDI DATA

&#8226 Model: A6 TDi.

&#8226 List price: £21,950.

&#8226 Engine: 110hp, 1.9-litre 4-cyl turbodiesel.

&#8226 Top speed: 121mph.

&#8226 0-62mph: 12.3sec.

&#8226 Test fuel consumption: 42.3mpg.

&#8226 Insurance group: na.