If you’ve ever been to Japan (or even if you haven’t) you might’ve noticed that the Japanese people are extremely hard workers. Having recently returned from a Christmas/New Year break spent in Tokyo, it’s immediately obvious.
Putting in extended office hours through the week and often well into the weekend is not only commonplace, but it’s also expected. Free time is a precious commodity that’s all-too-finite.
As such, when free time does come around, they certainly know how to make it count. Pass through any late-night district and you’ll find drunken businessmen still wearing suits spilling out into the street, or groups of friends singing along the street still in karaoke spirit.
Even in the modified car scene, there are salarymen sneaking out late at night in their heavily modified Lamborghinis just to hang out and escape the monotony of work life.
It’s this work-hard, play-hard philosophy that got me thinking about the Audi A6. It’s ostensibly a large business sedan found far more frequently among the city streets that touring the road less travelled.
Considering this, I wondered whether such a well-accomplished daily driver could get down and boogie on a drive down to the Mornington Peninsula.
With the big three German sedans, I could argue that BMW has always had the dynamic edge, Mercedes-Benz possesses the opulent option and Audi has always excelled in technology and interior design space. Those generalisations aren’t as apparent now, but just how far has Audi come?
With that in mind, I’ve opted to take Audi’s range-topping A6 55 TFSI away from its familiar city surroundings for a brief jaunt down the coast to see how much fun we can pack into one day.
Even before I set off for a drive, it’s clear that the A6 is a joy to hustle about town. The interior, while quite minimalist in design, is comfortable and ergonomic in practice, the $2000 optional air suspension wafts over around-town imperfections imperceptibly and the latest Audi MMI multimedia system is very easy to use.
But the focus was on the extended drive down the coast, so without further mucking around I made a bee-line to the Peninsula link freeway and motored on down at 100km/h.
The freeway is one of the A6’s strong suits, with remarkably quiet wind noise and road noise only perking up slightly once hitting coarse chip bitumen.
Even still, the quiet cabin makes for an awesome sound stage thanks to the Bang and Olufsen 3D sound system which is put to good use for the quick jaunt down the coast.
Despite a number of businesses going back to work, it quickly becomes apparent that school holidays are definitely not over as traffic started to bank up. Every A6 is fitted with an adaptive cruise control system that can queue up in traffic, though, so at least it is easy to endure.
Our A6 55 TFSI comes with the Premium Plus package ($9800) which adds a few goodies like the aforementioned sound system, LED headlights, a sunroof, interior ambient lighting, an S line focused interior and massive 21-inch wheels which look suitably boss (and suspiciously like those on an R8).
Along with a few other items like $2200 Firmament blue metallic paint, $2000 air suspension and a $2500 rear seat comfort package, our car’s $116,000 base price quickly blew out to $132,500 before on-road costs.
Large six-cylinder engines are getting harder and harder to find which – forget the emissions argument for a minute – is a shame. The 3.0-litre turbo petrol V6 under the bonnet produces 250kW and 500Nm with the on-road result being oodles of power for any situation.
It's especially evident upon overtaking on the freeway, but it also shines on B roads for the simple fact that it has enough torque to get all that weight moving –and moving quickly too.
Before too long it's time to veer off and get down to business – or leisure, rather. First port of call is a climb to Arthur’s Seat which is busy the whole way up.
Nonetheless, there are chances to experience Dynamic mode which sharpens up the drive experience by firming up the dampening and steering feel. What was a floaty cumbersome drive perks up into a more dialled-in experience that makes the best of a heavy luxurious sedan.
The driving position is bang-on, the steering is well-weighted, albeit not too lively through the bends and there’s assuring traction from the Quattro all-wheel drive system.
Bypassing the full carpark at the top, I stop for a quick photo-op at a lesser-known park behind Arthur’s Seat. One thing that did annoy me was the bizarre door handles that, if you pull as if you’re in a hurry, don’t actually open the door.
They require a much softer relaxed touch to pop the door open and then push to exit, at least from the inside getting out.
Aside from finicky door handles, the rest of the A6 interior is a lovely place to be. Despite a drab dentist chair grey that our car was upholstered in, the cabin looks modern and is intuitive to use.
Ordinarily, I’d like to see a few more physical buttons to shortcut between menu systems but the central infotainment is quite simple to switch between audio and navigation using big icons for example, and the fully digital instrument cluster is informative for anything from maps to phone functionality.
Sedans usually feature commodious space in the second row and this A6 is no different with ample legroom and headroom, and the space itself is accentuated with the rear seat comfort package, which brings climate control and extended upholstery for the door cards and centre armrest.
The boot is massive, too, and its 530-litre capacity could easily swallow multiple overnight bags, the weekly shopping or even a pair of full-size suitcases.
Annoyingly there are few storage options for front-seat passengers, save for a pair of cup holders next to the shifter and a shallow centre console fitted with a wireless phone charger. The door cards aren’t overly useful, either.
Photos done, I venture further inland in search of lunch. The beach gets all the glamour down on the Peninsula, but there’s a whole other landscape hiding behind Arthur’s Seat that’s equally impressive.
Especially in autumn, there are scenic pine trees and greenery overload as you pass by bush and scrub. It’s often much quieter than the front beach and there are wineries galore if you’re so inclined.
After stopping briefly at the Red Hill General Store – it serves up a tasty chicken schnitzel sandwich, by the way – it's time to turn back to the city.
Coming back down to sea level along a downhill gradient illustrates how the new mild-hybrid system works in practice. Stepping off the throttle results in the engine shutting off and switching to the 48-volt system which ensures the car continues to glide along.
We’ve no idea how much it may aid its combined 9.8L/100km fuel consumption figure but the system itself is entirely unobtrusive.
Instead of back-tracking along the freeway, I opt for the scenic route which straddles the beach and provides a nicer view.
Arriving back in Melbourne the A6 immediately settles back into its comfort zone but as for the past that paints the Audi as a bit of a drab offering when compared against rivals from Mercedes and BMW, there’s no reason not to judge the A6 competitively now.
It nails the work-hard, play-hard ethos as well as any of its competitors, all the while excelling in its primary role as an everyday business sedan.
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