A Fond Farewell To Alpha Foxtrot

Audi A4 Avant
Today I learned I will never drive my Audi again. My beautiful Audi that I cared for, adored and admired for just over three years of its life. Alpha Foxtrot brought me much joy and happiness as I cruised up and down motorways and darted around city centres. It was responsive, agile, practical and homely.

I feel a little sad knowing that my last drive was to the dealership so it could get serviced, and even then I didn’t know there was anything wrong. Despite covering 120k miles in six years (half of which were covered in the three years I drove it), it still handled well, gripped reliably around corners and deployed its power with a consistency that would make a clock blush.

Alas, there was something wrong with Alpha Foxtrot, and in all honesty, it came close to being called a right-off. What was supposed to be an in-and-out job turned into something more severe, and now the car is going to be auctioned off – a cruel end to an era of my life filled with driving joy.

On Monday I was informed the car had the beginnings of a transmission problem, but the engineers weren’t sure exactly what it was. There seemed to be some kind of leakage from the system, and the crew at Audi needed to take the transmission out to assess and diagnose the problem. Taking out the transmission would cost £300 alone.

Today, the diagnosis was complete. I’m not a mechanic, so I don’t really know exactly what is wrong, but something has failed within the transmission and punctured a hole in the casing. While I was driving it around prior to the service, I wouldn’t have noticed it as the part was holding itself together, but as soon as the engineers took it out, everything simply fell apart.

I have been told that the part hasn’t failed due to any kind of reckless driving or mis-handling of the car, and that one part within the transmission system simply let go, and that caused further stresses on other parts. While it’s a relief to know I have looked after it, it is still annoying to know that the car is falling apart. A little part of me wishes I hadn’t taking it in to be serviced – it probably would have lasted a little longer while it was holding itself together, refusing to give up, so to speak.

To complete the necessary fix, Audi have told me it will cost somewhere in the region of £4000. Alpha Foxtrot is only worth around £6000. Instead of shelling out all that money, the car will be bodged together so that it will last long enough to be driven from the dealership to the auction house.

This means I have to continue driving the Mercedes-Benz A-Class for a little while, a car I am getting used to, but is no match to the Audi. In the mean time, my boss (Alpha Foxtrot is a company car, by the way) is weighing up a new car for himself and once that decision has been made, I will receive his Audi. While very similar to Alpha Foxtrot, New Audi won’t be the same – the primary difference being that mine was a B6 spec, the new Audi is a B8 spec.

New Audi is still an A4 Avant 2.0 TDI S-Line that sports an ’09 plate, which is simply an updated version of the dying A4 Avant 1.9 TDI SE, but the crucial and most notable difference is that my runaround for the past three years has been a manual gearbox. New Audi is automatic, albeit with paddle shift and sequential shift should the driver desire such pointless toys.

I will never forget Alpha Foxtrot. It was my first grown-up car and reignited the joy of driving for me. It really was a wonderful vehicle to drive, so responsive and even though it was an estate, it really was very agile; more so than any other regular car I have driven. The New Audi is sumptuous, decked out in leather and more gubbings on the dashboard than I care to even think about. I’m sure I will have many years of motoring joy with New Audi, but I will never forget Alpha Foxtrot.

When I collect my belongings from it on Friday, I think I may insist on driving it back to work, just one last time behind the wheel.

As a side note, I have never named the cars I have driven. But upon hearing the news today, I decided to give the Audi a name – I think it deserved one. Being the kind of person I am, I named it after the first two letters of the registration code, AF.