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First Impressions: Audi A6 2.0 TDI 190hp Ultra

The A6 is getting on a bit now and you can really see that when you hop in to the cabin. Compared to the pared-back interior of the new Audi TT, the A6 cabin seems a little aged and last-gen. That said, there's still an awful lot of good stuff going on here - it's incredibly comfy, knocking off repeated round-trips between Dublin and CompleteCar's Belfast office (L'Officine Du CompleteCar Nord - or my front room as it's better known) without any apparent effort.

Without any apparent fuel burn either - you see this is an A6 Ultra, which means that it has a greater content of high-strength (but lighter) steel and aluminium than standard. This is Audi's attempt to draw a thick, black line between its all-conquering (and ruddy marvellous) Le Mans 24hrs success and its workaday motor cars. So lightened, and fitted with the latest 190hp version of the venerable 2.0-litre TDI engine, this big, spacious, luxurious, comfy saloon romped along getting an easy 60mpg even on a motorway cruise. It did drop a bit in sluggish town driving, but only to about 45mpg; impressive stuff for something this big.

While Audi has also had a crack at the suspension, the A6 still feels a little adrift of its competition in driving terms. Really, to get an A6 that is truly enjoyable and engaging to drive, you need to upgrade to the 3.0-litre V6 TDI with quattro. This front-driver is lovely and relaxing behind the wheel, but a touch unrewarding when the roads get twisty, at least compared to a BMW 5 Series or Jaguar XF. The steering, even in Dynamic mode, is just too light and finger-tip-y - comforting when you're not being enthusiastic, but alienating when you want to have some fun.

The fact that it came with a manual gearbox was also slightly odd - you just expect a car of this size and type to come with a zero-effort slusher, don't you? Not that it was a particular hardship - the shift quality is light, accurate and easy - but, it's just, I kept stalling it as I came to a halt, forgetting that there actually was a third pedal down there. Ahem.

Still, sit back and feel the quality, eh?

Key tech specs:
- Pricing: €47.250 for this one
- Engine options: This was the new 190hp 2.0-litre TDI and it's a belter - refined and super-economical
- Emissions: 114g/km for this manual Ultra model - you needed a Prius to get those kind of emissions when I were a lad...

Rolls-Royce bows to the inevitable

Well, it was the worst kept secret in the motoring world really, wasn't it? That Rolls-Royce would eventually produce its own-brand SUV. It has a ring of utter inevitability about it, especially since once-time stablemate and now rival Bentley is well on the way to launching its own such car. While the EXP-9 Falcon prototype (which will be unveiled as the Bentyaga production model soon) was pilloried for its sheer ugliness, that didn't stop it picking up a barrel-full of lucrative orders from the Middle-and-Far-East. Rolls clearly took note.

In Defence of...

A hush settles over the courtroom as the presiding judge gives an almost imperceptible nod to the counsel for the defence. The venerable barrister stands and adjusts his robes. Beneath them, a once youthful body is turning slowly to corpulence - a result of too strong a taste for good food and better wine - but here, on the floor of the court, he feels young and virile again and up for the fight. This defendant is not so defenceless...

"M'lud, ladies and gentlemen of the jury and assembled members of the public. You have heard the case laid out…

Revisited: Range Rover Evoque

And all because the boat ran aground. Yup, the Hoegh Osaka, a massive car-carrying roll-on-roll-off ship stuck its 51,000 displaced tonnes onto a sandbank off the south coast of England and apparently 1.7 tonnes or so of that was the Land Rover Discovery Sport that I was supposed to be testing this week. Whoops.

Ah well, the Land Rover people very kindly threw me into a Range Rover Evoque for the week. Therefore, in lieu of a full road test of the Evoque, which we did when the car was updated last year, here…