I recently did something I’ve not done in quite a while. Let me set the scene. It was a Friday afternoon, the sun was shining and I had one of my favourite albums on whilst driving home from work, looking forward to a rare night out. A feeling of euphoria swept over me as I whacked up the volume, turned off the air-con and wound down all the windows to let the summer breeze blow in. It was fantastic. Driving enthusiastically shall we say, down a country lane, I was reminded of care free days when my car was really my only passion in life and as long as I had enough cash for petrol, beer and fags, I’d be alright. Inevitably this all came to a grinding halt as I joined a line of near stationary traffic and life’s tedium started to resurface. Now, my car stereo is unfeasibly loud and at this point, passers by were drawn to whatever was broadcasting INXS to half of Cheshire. This got slightly embarrassing as I noticed more and more confused faces realise that it really was the family estate, complete with baby seats, doing a good impression of the main stage at Glastonbury, a position usually reserved for Chavvy Saxos driven by gormless mouth breathers. I persevered however, telling myself that I wouldn’t have cared in the past, so I’m not going to now. My carefree attitude was returning and I was even starting to lap up the attention, that is until I heard a noise that burst my proverbial bubble completely. I’ve already stated that the stereo in my Audi is loud, almost deafeningly so, and yet over the tunes I could still hear a vile, yet familiar noise – the clatter of a diesel engine, no, worse, the clatter of my diesel engine.
I actually felt ashamed. I don’t care what anyone says or what new technology comes out, diesels will always sound dreadful. The reason I’d never really noticed my own car’s tone before is because there’s so much insulation surrounding the engine it may actually be unsinkable. I feel so strongly about this that I’ve come to one conclusion – the Audi’s got to go. Initially this might sound like an over-hasty knee-jerk reaction but I’ve given it a lot of thought and it’s time to move on.
Without wanting to contradict myself, my Audi A6 is fantastic, possibly the most complete all round car I’ve owned. For nearly two years now it has served my purposes ideally. Firstly there’s the size. The interior and boot space are cavernous which when your family grows from a couple to a quartet is invaluable. Secondly there are the running costs. It’s averaged over 40mpg, this combined with cheap tax, two year service intervals and unparalleled build quality has been very handy whilst Mrs H has been on maternity leave. Then there’s the little things. The aforementioned stereo has allowed me to still play music at the correct volume without waking aforementioned family up. Even the multitronic (auto) gearbox has proved a godsend when the morning drive to work after very little sleep seems a nigh-on impossible task without a constant supply of coffee.
Yet, all these positives could not persuade me to keep it. I love cars, that’s obvious, and one of the main attractions to cars for me is how they sound, be it a howling V8 or an air-cooled flat six, that sound says passion and power to me. All a diesel engine says to me is that the driver is more passionate about saving money than enjoying driving. It’s not just the sound though; it’s the whole driving experience. I know things have improved recently but when you want to accelerate quickly from standstill in my car, you press the loud pedal and it’s as though you’ve sent your request by mail with your answer eventually arriving the next day. Instant response is what you need when driving and not getting it quickly becomes very boring.
If anyone disagrees with me and feels they know of a car where the diesel model not only performs better but also sounds more appealing, I’d be delighted to hear from them and put them right. In the meantime, Mrs H goes back to work next month and I’m looking forward to becoming a true petrol-head again.
By Ben Harrington
- Petrol-only Vauxhall Adam heralds eve of new age of motoring (mirror.co.uk)
- Is Porsche Going Diesel? (theredlinereport.com)
- Petrol vs diesel: which is cheaper? (confused.com)