Its a wonderful thing when you experience something new. Something that feels so natural and intuitive that you wonder how on Earth you’ve ever lived without it. I am of course talking about the Lakes, but also, mainly, enthusing about the Audi Q7, our ride for the weekend.
I normally have a little grumble about driving from Bristol to the southern tip of Cornwall for a weekend, but driving up north to The Lakes takes almost twice as long. Its fair to say I was having a great time behind the wheel of the Audi Q7 – and there weren’t many complaints from the passengers.
I have this dream of being able to sit in the driver’s seat of a car, while safely chatting and eating and generally not having to pay any attention to the road. I’d be making the absolute most of my time with the family as we travel. Either that, or sleeping. My dream can’t be that far from reality, surely? But sadly, probably far enough away in the future for the boys to have grown up and left home.
Somewhere on the road to The Lakes I caught a glimpse of my dream, when the Audi took over the driving in a traffic jam. Big deal – that’s only a little thing, so what? Well, actually – stopping and starting while crawling along the M6 for 90 minutes is really boring and really tiresome. The car also took over a bit of the steering, too, making sure that we never strayed out of lane.
Audi let us loose on their accessories pack. Bike racks were strapped to the roof, ready for us to use. Sadly the weather on Sunday morning was biblical, and no matter how much persuading and coaxing, the kids were having none of it. So cycling was off of our itinerary.
Also included was an inflatable tent – yes you did read that right. A tent that is easily erected by a pump, sleeps a family and is stowed in the boot. Again, this was saved for our Sunday night adventures – but rain stopped play. It was the Lakes after all – rain and beautiful mountains go hand in hand.
One gadget that I could easily have taken home with me, was the Mobile Espresso machine. On our travels we have spent countless hours searching for ‘acceptable’ takeaway coffee to get us going in the morning. I often boil water on a mini camping gas hob and then make coffee with an Aeropress. The Mobile Espresso machine takes 44mm ESE paper coffee pods. It plugs in to the lighter socket and heats and compresses water to 16bar and produces an excellent espresso shot, all in under 2 minutes. More amazing-ness.
I didn’t read much about the Q7 before we left for the trip, and I’m glad I didn’t. I really enjoyed the surprise each time a new feature of the car was revealed. Driving back from Keswick to our Shepherd’s hut on Friday night, we were all stunned by the LED headlights. They not only automatically dip for oncoming traffic, but they can do it while simultaneously continuing to highlight everything else on the road.
Inside the car, the family settled in. The fold down arm rest on the back seat had cup holders, which the boys thought was a revelation. Rufus had his tablet linked to the in-car wifi, and he streamed Danger Mouse through iPlayer. When I was a kid, motorway entertainments included counting caravans and travel connect 4. My phone sat on the wireless charger, while streaming Spotify over bluetooth to the stereo. We found ourselves winding through some beautiful valley roads, while I sang along to a playlist that just happened to feature some 70s prog rock. With a sideways look, Lou pointed out that I had become a cliche.
The Audi’s software uses the SatNav and vehicle speed to predict exactly when you can lift off the accelerator and still carry enough momentum to reach, say, the 30mph zone without needing to brake. A handy fuel saving device. I loved the Head Up Display. Route directions, speed and traffic warnings were projected on to a patch of windscreen in front of me. I didn’t have to take my eyes off the road to look at the dash or the map screen. If, however, your attention was to leave the road, and if you happened to be oblivious to an unavoidable collision, the car would apply the brakes.
If I could choose a car, if someone was to grant wishes – it would be this, with all the extras. It truly is a great car to drive, it felt like it was looking after the family.
I’d like an Audi Q7 now, please. It’s my birthday and Christmas soon, after all!
Collaboration Note: This post was written in collaboration with Audi. All words and opinions by Dan Taylor, photography by Lou Archell. Thank you for supporting the brands that make this blog possible.