Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Audi - the tailgater's wheels of choice these days

Did you hear about the new species scientists discovered the other day? Apparently, there’s a new type of shark, which has emerged in a remote spot of sea just off Indonesia, which ‘walks’ along the ocean floor.

In the interests of science, I’d like to put it to the boffins at the Natural History Museum that I’ve found its motoring equivalent, right here in the UK. The Greater Spotted Tailgater, or Secuutus Major to give it its scientific Latin name, has existed for decades in the warm, inviting habitat of motorway outside lanes for generations, but it’s only in the past few years that a new variation of this most annoying of motoring breeds has evolved.

Specifically, the Greated Spotted Tailgaters who drive Audis, meaning the above image is now plastered across rear view mirrors right across Britain.

Not that long ago, history will recall, Audis were driven by nice people who wanted something a tiny bit tidier than the equivalent Volkswagen. My late granddad had a 100 Avant and it really was the epitome of respectable middle classness, a useful, family-friendly estate without the antique dealer connotations of its Volvo and Mercedes contemporaries. At that time, the Greater Spotted Tailgater’s wheels of choice were 3 Series and 5 Series BMWs, and you knew when you saw the Munich motors’ quad headlights flashing at you from behind that you were incurring their wrath.

Things, however, have changed, and I blame the Audi TT. Ever since the gorgeously swoopy coupe started gracing the showrooms 15 years ago, the rest of the range has basked in the glow from its chrome detailing and become a bit cooler as a result, bit by bit attracting the sort of people who used to buy BMWs. The figures speak for themselves; in the past year alone, Audi sales are up by almost 10%.

The sales rises, combined with ever sharper and more aggressive styling updates, means something that’s struck me every time I’ve every time I’ve ventured out onto a motorway’s outside lane in the past two years – almost immediately you are swamped by tailgaters in cars with four rings on their radiator grilles. Don’t get me wrong; there are still lots of nice people happily trundling to the shops and back in their Audis, in the same way it was wrong to label every BMW owner as a lane-hogging loon ten years ago.

Yet the tailgating brigade have, by and large, taken up Audis as their wheels of choice, and the range is a bit less on my motoring radar as a result. The only truly cool Audi you can buy now, I’d contend, is the A7 because it’s not a big seller. Which means Mr and Mrs Tailgater don’t tend to wind people up with them.

If I had a pound for every time an Audi-driving middle management type has sat two feet off my back bumper, I’d have roughly £13,790 by now. Which, incidentally, is the entry level price for an A1.

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