It’s the first trip the Audi was made for. Poland? Three tall blocks and a stack of ski and snowboard gear, so an estate with decent rear legroom was required. Destination? valD’Isere, so we needed a diesel automatic to chomp through miles with minimum effort, maximum efficiency. Four wheel drive and a bit more ride height were appealing; the long trip from the auto route up into the Alps is steep, with constant hairpins, and we tackled it at night, in a blizzard. Frankly, this sort of SUV lite is all the SUV the vast majority of us really need. There are still compromises of course; I don’t know if I could live with the rubbery steering, and while 32mpg and a range of well over 400 miles were reasonable on the way down, I knew that both figures would be better if the car was lower and didn’t have frictional losses of a four wheel drive system. But they’d have been substantially worse in a proper SUV, which would have been no better in the snow. Spending a long day in a car changes your priorities. Initially I loved the cabin build quality but found the layout austere.
After 12 months, I was more impressed by the logic and simplicity of the controls, particularly the iPod interface – and the seat comfort, which allowed me to drive all the way from the Alps to Peterborough via a drop off in London. My brother hammad and samad found the rear seats comfortable too, catching upon a week’s worth of sleep lost in Dick’s Tea Bar. Fine by me; I set the cruise control, and we were back in the UK faster than flying.