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Be grateful for your Audi

   Just back from a two-week honeymoon in Southern Spain. Descriptions of the 
   Alhambra at night, or the high passes of the Sierra Nevada probably belong

   There is a tenuous connection, though, between the car we hired and Audis.
   We got an Ibiza 1.2 litre hatch-back, made by SEAT. SEAT is the main (only?)
   Spanish car manufacturer, and is now owned by VAG. The door handles
   were from the VW parts bin, and when you lift the bonnet, the engine 
   says "System Porsche" on the top of the valve cover.

   All relation to Audis ends there, though. (And I never did discover anything
   even remotely Porsche-like while I was driving the thing.)

   The car was a SLUG. You might have thought that an engine 2/3rds the size 
   of my Audi, in a car that's a lot smaller, would still give you a bit of 
   performance, would still do *something* when you press the accelerator.

   Nope. You floor the pedal, and the thing does nothing. For a moment you
   wonder if you pressed the brake or the clutch instead. Then the speedo
   gives a slight quiver, and if you stare at it intently, the way you might 
   stare at the minute hand of a watch, you can see that, yes, it is just
   moving. Merging into a dual-carriage way is done in third gear, with one
   eye watching the revs to make sure that nothing blows up, and the other
   eye scanning the horizon for distant traffic, which may be a few miles away 
   when you start the merge, but which you feel sure will catch up with you
   before you reach cruising speeds.

   Inside space, needless to say, was lacking. Two of us, and our luggage,
   fit fine, but I wouldn't like to add much more than that. The one saving 
   grace that you might expect from that sort of car - fuel economy - wasn't
   particularly impressive, either. In the Audi I usually get 33 mpg (using
   Her Majesty's Imperial Gallons) while the SEAT got about 36. (Maybe because
   I was revving the thing so hard - see above comments on how to merge into

   Why does anyone buy one of these things? If you're buying second-hand, then
   for the price of, say, a four year-old Ibiza you could pick up a six-year
   old Audi, and I'd expect the Audi to outlast the Seat.

   So the next time your Audi demands some new parts, or gets into a sulk and 
   demands to see a dealer, just remember that things could be a lot worse.

Alasdair Mackintosh                                 Shape Data, EDS Unigraphics
mackintosh@ug.eds.com                                 Parker's House, Regent St
+44 223 371608                                         Cambridge, CB2 1DP, U.K.