Okay, so I've had the car five days now, and have done about 300 miles of all different types of driving. First impressions?
It's a huge improvement over my old car in almost every way. I guess I hadn't realised how old the 2.8Q was starting to feel until I had something else to compare it with. The B6 is roomier, better made from nicer materials, and has lots of thoughtful design touches.
All noise levels are substantially lower than the 2.8Q, and the 2.4 engine is itself much smoother and silkier than the 2.8. Although the non-sports suspension means the car is not as taut, the more absorbent ride is very welcome. It better suits the character of this particular A4 version. The 2.4SE is not intended to be a sporty model.
That doesn't mean it's a slug though. The real revalation, though, is the Multitronic transmission. In fully automatic mode, it truly is a seamless gearbox. You hear the ratios changing to suit the commands you have given it with the throttle, you see the revs on the dial, and you feel the acceleration but you don't feel a step change.
Whether in auto or tiptronic modes, the response time is far quicker than in the old car. The communication between engine, gearbox and cruise control is impressive too. With the CC is engaged, hold the lever in the "increase speed" position, you get instantaneous maximum acceleration that is a match for full-throttle kickdown using the pedal. What this means is that in real-world, every-day driving, the 2.4SE is effectively as quick as the 2.8Q was, but uses about 25% less petrol in the process.
The Multitronic does have one small quirk, or at least one that I've detected so far. If you mash the pedal from a standstill, it takes what seems like an age (but is probably only about one second in reality) for the system to find the lowest ratio and go. Once you're used to it, you only have to adapt your driving style a little bit, but it's a bit un-nerving the first time you try to balst away from the lights. Of course, because it's front-wheel drive rather than quattro, I can't simply floor the throttle & rocket forward regardless of conditions anyway. I'm re-learning the art of getting just enough power down before the wheels start to spin.
As far as the rest of the car is concerned, I've come to realise that not only was it a one-owner car, the owner was the only person who ever used it. The front passenger and both rear doors feel like they've never been opened, the seats like they've never been sat in. Fontain prepped it beautifully, and I got a very nice surprise when I inspected it. Instead of the 6-months' tax I'd been promised FOC by Fontain, I found they' received the existing tax disc from the previous owner, and it was valid until the end of Jan 07!
Here's pic, will post better ones when I get a chance to take some more: