Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Performing Art

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Performing Art

Article excerpt

Byline: Patrick James

THE world of the big executive saloon is inhabited with some pretty special cars and, in years gone by, the yardstick for many executives was, obviously, the luxury, but also the performance.

The performance came at a bit of a price but, in recent years, that price has been creeping up, particularly in terms of benefitin-kind taxation, where high CO2 emissions result in an equally high tax bill.

Well-heeled private buyers, too, have been feeling the pinch with the inexorable rise in the cost of fuel and road tax.

The makers of these big chariots have responded to this, and to EU legislation demanding cuts in emissions by providing a new breed of cars that still keep high-rollers in the luxury they have become accustomed to, but saving them cash as well.

Audi's EUR2bn a year R&D budget kept it at the forefront of this technological development throughout their extensive range of models, but the bigger cars are, perhaps, benefiting the most.

The two-litre diesel "e" is a good example. It looks the same as other A6s with its sporty but elegant lines, distinctive grill, integrated daytime running lights and LED turn signals in the exterior mirrors, but it offers big savings on running costs.

The interior, or the Comfort lounge, as the firm like to call it, is just as impressive.

High-level craftsmanship is interwoven with top-end materials, including softer upholstery, while dashboard and centre console - which houses the MMI, or multimedia interface - are both classy and easy to use. The MMI is the heart of the car, and controls functions such as climate control, Bluetooth telephone, satellite navigation and the sound system, in this case the optional Bose sound system that, played on stage, could probably be heard at the back of the Albert Hall - but it will set you back a cool pounds 575. …

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