There’s real class here, beyond even what we now take for granted from Audi. For some reason, perhaps the way the cabin seems to wrap around the driver, you feel cocooned inside a structure so strong you could roll it down a mountainside and emerge needing no more attention than a comb through your hair.

You’ll not be bothered by the displaced pedals and odd driving position that affects lesser A4s either, because there are only two pedals fighting for space in the footwell. The steering wheel, with its squared-off bottom, can be pulled tight into your chest, and while its rim is thick, it’s not made from that soft and squidgy material BMW insists on using in its performance cars.

Nic Cackett

Nic Cackett

Road tester
Standard kit for the S4 includes climate control, cruise control and automatic lights and wipers

But there’s no denying the cabin is ageing. You only have to look at the architecture of more modern Audis such as the A6 to see how much the brand’s interior design has progressed since the S4 was introduced back in 2008. Perceived quality is no problem: the leather is excellent with contrast stitching and all the controls and vents have silver surrounds. But the last generation MMI switchgear is starting to feel its age, as are the pale grey dials. You can see it, too, in the modestly proportioned sat-nav screen.

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You should also be aware that just because your children will fit in the back of a standard A4, it does not mean they’ll be happy in the S4. The car is fitted with vast, heavily bolstered front seats that are almost as good at removing rear leg room as they are at holding you in place under the impressive lateral forces the car is able to generate in corners.

As for the boot, there’s not much space for luggage even in the Avant, let alone the saloon. There’s enough for a family’s everyday clobber but holiday packing will need to be done carefully. No wonder Audi goes to such lengths to keep the word ‘estate’ at its distance from this car.

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