Home / Features / Audi A6 Road Trip to Mahabaleshwar – Absolutely Liberating

 

With an extended weekend in sight and the key of the Audi A6 in hand, I decided to set out on a road trip to clear my head and have some fun on a long drive.
post Lockdown road trip in Audi A6

Story: Sarmad Kadiri
Photography: Sanjay Raikar

With the unlocking phase on, most of us are keen to take that much-needed break after being confined indoors for almost seven months. However, I’m still not comfortable with flights and find road trips more alluring. Driving down to breathtaking locations in the comfort and safety of a car is more my kinda game.

The plan was to chill in the beautiful scenic location of Mahabaleshwar for a couple of days, away from the urban chaos. It’s the proximity that makes this hill station such an ideal getaway. The other attraction for me is the well paved highways and the entertaining ghat section where I could put the Audi A6’s prowess to test.

The luxury segment is not an easy space to jostle in, but Audi have managed to surprise and impress car-buyers year after year. The A6 has wowed luxury car buyers and critics — winning hoards of awards, including Car India’s “Luxury Sedan of the Year 2020”. Parked in my driveway, it did stand out and look tempting. I don’t remember seeing an A6 with such a sharp design. It’s longer, wider, and taller than before and definitely looks more aggressive than the older models. The right use of chrome beautifully highlights the premium credentials. And then there’s the new design Matrix LED headlights and LED tail-light clusters with stylish dynamic flowing turn-indicators that look so mesmerising. These distinctly Audi lines wrap around the boot, giving the new A6 a very chiselled look.

Before our drive, we ensured we did our regular checks. Tanked up the car and ran a routine check. Car documents? Check. Tyre air pressure? Check. Spare tyre? Check. Lights and indicators? All good. Phone playlist? Yup. Masks and sanitisers? Double check. Next morning, we set out from Pune in the wee hours via the National Highway 65. The advantage is that the road and toll booths are usually free, so one can cover a lot more ground.

Once we were settled, I could focus on the interior of the car. The cabin looked mesmerising in the pre-dawn darkness, thanks to the mood lighting and excellent detailing. The generous space in this luxury saloon seems good enough to maintain social distancing. The rear seats are where you can truly savour the space. What complements the classic Audi materials are modern bits like two large touchscreens and a bunch of touch controls. In no time I got familiar with the MMI systems and tapped on the a-c’s touch controls to make the cabin even more comfortable. One of my favourite features on the A6 is the new Virtual Cockpit that showcases the map, media, and digital dials. As my friend keyed in the destination on the sat nav, I focused on getting out of the city before the commuters woke up.

With my phone synced via the Apple CarPlay, I stowed it away on the wireless charging dock under the central arm-rest, while the brilliant Bang & Olufsen infotainment played my tunes and set the mood just right. My fingers tapping on the multifunction steering wheels, we had already crossed Katraj Ghat and were closing in on the Shivapur toll. The “45 TFSI” badge means that there’s a potent 2.0-litre turbo-petrol four-cylinder engine under that bonnet. One that also benefits from a 12-volt mild-hybrid system which recuperates energy and stores it in a compact lithium-ion battery. So, whenever I demanded more performance, it assisted the engine with instantaneous torque. The refinement of this petrol engine and the quality of the cabin insulation is surreal. At speeds like this, the only thing you can hear in the cabin is the gentle beep of the speed warning.

As the sun gradually raised its head from behind the clouds and the golden light brilliantly lit up the bold lines and creases of this luxury saloon. We continued marching on NH 48, devouring the sandwiches we had packed and sipping some home-made coffee. My senses sharpened further after the shot of caffeine and I made most of the open roads ahead. The Audi A6 does a great job of munching miles. It gets up to highway speeds quickly and stays there since most of the 370 Nm of torque is available from 1,600 rpm, while the 245 hp kicks in from 5,000 rpm. And the S tronic seven-speed dual-clutch ’box maintains optimal revs, making quick overtaking a breeze. For a large and spacious luxury sedan it’s rather light on its feet and comfortably maintains three-digit speeds.

Bidding adieu to the wide, well-paved roads of NH 48, we turned towards the narrow Wai-Panchgani road. Driving cautiously on this busy section with several patches of villages, we were soon climbing up the hilly road overlooking the pretty-as-a-picture Sahyadri range. No wonder during the British Raj, the region was their summer home and some even retired in this remarkable hill station. I opened the sunroof for a bit to let in the cool breeze, some soft sunlight and it acted like therapy. Driving through tighter bends is where the five-link suspension of the Audi A6 shines. The ride quality is excellent and when the situation arises, it’s nimble and agile. The light steering is responsive and alive and, like a small car, the Audi darts from corner to corner. It’s simply too much fun!

Our first stop was at Harrison’s Folly, a table-land where you can park your car and get a great view of the Western Ghats. The road here isn’t in best shape, but all I needed to do was switch to “Comfort” mode and the Audi sailed through it all. With Panchgani on one side and Wai on the other and the River Krishna flowing in between, this is as picturesque as it can get. I walked around and soaked it all in as my friends finished their quota of selfies and Insta posing.

We decided to leave our luggage and freshened up at the Dina Hotel in Mahabaleshwar before heading out again. On the way, we spotted dozens of viewpoints and spots with surprisingly a large number of tourists. Good to see people taking precautions like wearing masks and using sanitisers.

The Venna Lake is one of the most popular spots where some enjoy meandering in boats, while kids get an exhilarating experience of riding horses. We needed none of that because our luxury saloon sailed like a ship and had no less than 245 horses under that bonnet. However, relishing some fresh fruit with cream at the nearby Bagicha restaurant was more up our alley. Sadly, the extended monsoon meant that there were no good strawberries in sight. Having had our share of sugar rush, we drove around the hill station, checking out other equally exotic locations. Though some of the touristy spots were locked out, keeping in mind the current scenario, we did drive through places like Sydney Point, Kate’s Point, Elephant’s Head and made the customary stop at the Mapro Gardens.

Late in the evening, we parked the car at our hotel and walked to the local market. Soaking in the atmosphere and breathing the fresh air practically recharged my body and soul. A quick getaway was what I needed to clear my head, especially after the lockdown. And I was so impressed by the A6 — its elegance, comfort, and the essential modern-day features it offers. A car for people who like to be driven and those who love to drive. It can perfectly balance your work travel and the weekend getaway. I think I’ll be making a call to the Audi India guys because I need to do this more often. l’m geared up for work and life!

 

About the author: Sarmad Kadiri

 

 

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