The Royal Treatment
To celebrate the sale of 6000 A6 cars in the last six years in India, Audi invited us to Jaipur, Rajasthan for a drive of the new A6 Special Edition. Additionally it was a celebration of the company’s newly achieved pole position for sales in the Indian market.
On the morning of the 10th of May, the parking lot of the Trident hotel was adorned with the new ‘four ringed chariots’, awaiting their drivers. After a short briefing it was time to drive. Externally it looks the same. The same award-winning A6 that is Audi’s largest selling luxury sedan. Where the difference is seen, is on the inside.
Brimming with loads of new features the Special Edition of the car is targeted directly at customers looking for the added luxury in the same segment. Some of the features are conspicuous and distinct while others are subtle and noticed later.
The “Comfort Key” is something that one notices first on this car. It’s always great to have a car where you can push a button and it starts right up instead of having to turn a key.
Keep the key in your pocket, push the start button and the engine comes alive. A feature added to the comfort key is driver setting memory.
Audi says that it will provide 2 electronic comfort keys with the car, the car will sense which key is close to the car and upon opening the door the settings on the driver’s seat will changed based on the memory set to the respective key.
Ergonomically the Push Start button is placed closer to the co-driver’s side on the centre console than it is to the driver but that’s a tiny kink in Audi’s long chain. Another feature that they could have added is, electronically adjustable steering. The Special Edition A6 gets a manually adjustable steering wheel.
On pushing the start button, the dash lights up, white and red, the rings show up on the screen and elegantly the new Audi MMI system slides out of a groove just above the A/C vents and positions itself, upright, at the tip of the centre console. The MMI system is easy to use and very responsive.
Upon connecting my iPhone via Bluetooth, it was time to crank up the tunes and take of along with the convoy. The newly added Bose Surround Sound System gives the driver and the passengers a whole and complete listening experience. A perfect balance of crisp vocals and heart thumping bass can be felt with the volume turned up. Your very own party car!
The convoy leaves the Trident, snaking it’s way along Amer Road, with pretty scenery on either side. The regal Amer Fort on the left and a gorge on the right, it is a sight worth experiencing.
I was driving a car with the 3.0-litre V6 TDI spec engine. Audi has made the Special Edition available with the 2.0-litre in-line 4-cylinder engine as well. The 3.0ltr car comes with Audi’s trademark Quattro set up where as the 2.0-litre comes with front wheel drive.
The road to Agra from Jaipur is pretty straightforward. The highway that connects the two cities is built very well. What one has to worry about more than road conditions is the driving style of the locals there, but when there is a convoy of Audis plugging through the area people do give way. The A6 is a real head turner. The brand distinctive LED headlights and Daytime running lights underscore the appearance on the exterior. They are similar to the LED lights present on the current A8.
After about a 45km driver the convoy arrived at Umaid Lake palace on the outskirts of Jaipur, where we stopped for a quick snack and a driver switch. This gave us the opportunity to really experience the MMI features and the rear space and features available in the car.
Brought down to the customers from the Chinese A6L and the current A8, the Special Edition A6 now gives passengers the ability to adjust the co-driver’s seat from the rear. CEO, Michael Perschke said that since India is a pro-chauffer country, this feature allows customers to enjoy more than adequate legroom at the touch of a button.
The armrest on the rear seat pops open, revealing a remote in a central section, responsible for controlling the MMI system. The driver has an option to set up his Audi with 4 suspension options, as seen in the other Audis, namely, Comfort, Dynamic, Auto and Individual, to suit his style of driving. The air conditioning is adjustable in 4 zones of the car, 2 in the front and 2 in the rear. Each individual can set the climate control as per his or her personal requirement.
On the return journey I realized that the Special Edition is just as good to be driven around in, as it is to drive. It rides very smoothly and the comfort levels are high, allowing for very relaxed seating.
On returning to the hotel we left the cars for an opportunity to explore the wonderful City Palace. Filled with history, the palace is half a museum and the residence of the Jaipuri royal family. Lunch was a grand buffet at a local palace converted into a hotel, called the Raj Mahal Palace.
The evening was filled with Audi festivities. Michael Perschke flew down from Delhi to address us and to enjoy an informal gathering. He spoke about Audi’s achievements and future goals and it’s aim for holding its currently achieved pole position in the Indian market for a long period of time.With an indie jazz-rock band playing in the background, we relaxed after a long day in the pink city.
In short the Special Edition A6 is a regular A6 with additional luxurious add-ons making it more desierable than ever. It has adaptive air suspension with Audi’s drive-select option, 4-zone climate control, rear side airbags, Bose surround system, MMI touch, Comfort key, MMI remote, Front co-driver seat adjustment from the rear and LED headlights. All these features demonstrate Audi’s successful interplay of design and technology.
The Audi A6 has heritage and a proud lineage, globally as well as in India. Ravi Shastri was gifted a 1983 Audi 100 after winning the cricket world cup. He says. “This car is not just mine, it’s a part of India. It’s the country’s car.” That itself puts a huge smile on my face, as I have owned a 1991 Audi 200 quattro myself.
I know how the car moves, feels on the road, the whine of the turbo as it spools up and the explosion the waste-gate makes when the excess air is let out as you let go of the throttle. Audi has grown as a brand from then and now has finally reached pole position in the Indian market.
Lets see if it’s projected efforts will keep it as the hunted in front of its competing hunters. The Special Edition is available at an introductory price of Rs. 46,33,000 lakhs for the 2.0-litre TDI (ex-showroom Delhi) for a limited time.