Stunning Portugal scenery in the new Audi A6

Screen Shot 2018-05-25 at 11.34.38

Just got back from a great trip with Audi taking their latest A6 for a spin around the mountain roads of the Douro Valley near Porto.

I’m going to write a full review next week, but suffice to say for now it’s a great car – although probably one for the corporate executive who is more likely to be at home on the motorway than on mountainous country roads!

For a start it’s quite a big beast of a motor, plenty of room inside and quite wide. However, it handles very well and comes with plenty of power (3 litre engine as standard though a smaller 2 litre is available).

I liked it primarily because of the onboard tech which is getting more and more advanced. There’s touch screen control with haptic response of course (so you can feel the movement of the buttons) as well as voice control.

Press the talk button on the steering wheel and ask for a pizza restaurant and it will tell you where the nearest one is. Say you are feeling cold and it will even turn the heating up automatically for you in the cabin.

There are also a whole host of great assist features for driving including 360 degree cameras which really help with parking and assisted cruise control which will keep you a safe distance from the vehicle in front.

It really is quite a clever car although all of this intelligence doesn’t come cheap so you better get saving!

You can read the full review on Shiny Shiny here.

sdr

Fellow journalists hard at work

Wired Audi Innovation Awards – it’s Child’s Play

WiredAudi Innovation.jpg

Last night I went to the Wired Audi Innovation Awards at Victoria House in London’s Bloomsbury Square. It was a great night with some amazingly interesting technology showcased. I particularly liked some of the educational uses of technology, particularly Kaspar the robot (pictured below).

Although he may look a bit like Chucky from the terrifying Child’s Play films, his look is deliberate. Developed at the University of Hertfordshire, Kaspar was found to be the ideal design for children with autism who are learning to interact with people.

Before developers created the robot, they even recruited a mime artist from London’s Covent Garden to model various guises to see how the children reacted. Apparently they found that a ‘simplified’ human look was the most appealing to children with autism.

kaspar

Meet Kaspar, the simplified human robot who is helping children with autism

Another interesting technology project for children came from Little Inventors. Simply put, it’s a project that turns the amazingly creative ideas of children into reality. At the Wired Audi Innovation Awards last night there were several ideas from Sunderland school children as young as 6.

I particularly liked the high five machine (see the original drawing below)  which at the press of a button gives you a High Five. It’s been designed using a mould of the child’s actual hand (Oliver, aged 6) and is for times when there isn’t anyone around to give you a high five if you achieve something really good. Isn’t that sweet?

highfive

Another idea from one of the children was the War Avoider which lifts your house up into the air on big metal stilts in the event of a war or possibly even a flood! It also comes with a big invisibility blanket so your house can’t be seen by people wanting to do you harm.

You can see my interview with Little Inventors’ Chief Educator Katherine Mengardon in the YouTube video below (apologies for the sound, it was very noisy).
 

Driving the Audi Q2 around Suffolk on a perfect Autumn day

img_4132

Life’s not bad sometimes. Yesterday was a great day, one of those crisp but cold autumnal days, a perfect driving day. What made it even better was that I spent it in Suffolk – a part of England I know well and love – test driving the new Audi Q2.

I’m going to write a much longer piece on the Q2 on Tech Digest and Shiny Shiny on Monday but suffice to say for now it’s an interesting compact SUV, Audi’s first model in this new sector, designed to compete with models like the new Mercedes GLA series of cars and the Nissan Juke.

Not only did I get to drive around my old Suffolk stomping ground (pictured above is the Q2 in Southwold next to some splendid beach huts), but I also stayed in the amazing Wilderness Reserve at Sibton Park, close to Yoxford. Set in a 5,000 acre estate (yes 5,000 you did read that correctly), it’s an amazingly remote location where you have to get a golf buggy from the country house entrance to your cottage – that’s after you’ve driven half a mile down the driveway!

img_4128

The scallop on Aldeburgh beach, a tribute to the composer Benjamin Britten who walked along this beach in the afternoons

I also checked out the outdoor pool (see below) on the estate during my stay, leaving my luxurious room in the splendid old walled garden at 6.30 am to wander across moor land to plunge into water that was around 20 degrees (I was told it was heated to 26 degrees which was a lie!), surrounded by sheep and pheasants.

What an invigorating experience that was! And don’t be fooled by the steam in the picture below. With air temperature only around 5 degrees it was cold – honest.

Anyway thanks to Audi for the trip. And great to make new friends including Dad blogger John Adams and fashion influencer/Instagrammer Rahul Patel. See you at the next one guys!

You can see a video on YouTube that I made about all the tech on board the Audi Q2. 

You can read my review of the Audi Q2 here

IMG_4138.JPG

The outdoor pool at the Wilderness Reserve in Sibton, near Yoxford, Suffolk. Not massive but it’s not often you swim next to sheep and pheasants!

 

 

The new Audi A4 – is the most tech driven car ever?

2015-10-08 08.44.04

The last couple of days I’ve been with Audi in Newbury, driving round the edge of the Cotswolds in a swanky new A4. As a driving experience there’s not that much you can say about it – it handles well and is powerful. Put it this way you need to keep looking at the speed dial on the motorway to keep to the speed limits which of course I did!

But as a piece of technology this is like no car I’ve ever driven before. It’s quite simply breathtaking and a little bit overwhelming. As well as all the bleeping safety features these new cars are stuffed with (most of them I turn off because ironically they are too distracting when driving), there’s also a really impressive entertainment system.

As well as onboard ‘Jukebox’ (digital media player) there’s also the option of hooking up two smart phones so you get Google Maps, Spotify etc through the large LCD display (there’s even an inductive charging base for Android phones so you don’t need to use the USB charging ports).

I’m going to write a full report on the Audi A4 for Tech Digest over the weekend but in the meantime here’s a taster via a YouTube video I shot with the A4 Product and Marketing Manager, Katie Purcell, in which she talks about just some of the onboard tech features.

Unfortunately there’s not time for her to talk about all of them such as the head up display which projects the speed you are travelling directly in front of you so you don’t need to look down at the cockpit display while driving. It’s all clever stuff, you know.