If you require a long introduction to the A4, please return this magazine to the dentist’s pile and pick another to while away the wait. Something about golf, perhaps – if you’re partial to 18 holes, you’ll probably be familiar with Audi’s best-selling product.

The A4 saloon, the estate-shaped Avant and the rebadged A5 coupé are virtually omnipresent in the car parks of the nation’s clubhouses.

The model, specifically the saloon, has not only been the firm’s mainstay for more than four decades but is also one of the primary reasons why Audi has managed to force its way into a buyer reckoning that previously included only BMW and Mercedes-Benz.

Its family name has changed since then. It was originally the Audi 80, a car that moved through four generations (each of them a showcase for the innovations that would later become common traits of the four rings) before it was superseded by the A4 in the mid-1990s. The brand didn’t need all of the second two decades to shift five million examples.

Its huge success and instant familiarity have meant that Audi doesn’t strain itself in straying far from the script.

As you’ll have probably noticed, the new, fifth-generation model pictured is a dead ringer for its predecessor, and the claims made for it – an increase in size, dynamism, efficiency, luxuriousness and technology – were all trumpeted the previous time around, too.

However, that does not make them insignificant. Much like Volkwagen’s approach to the Golf (software code notwithstanding), Audi tends to be incredibly diligent with its endless strategy of improvement – and, as we are about to find out, there is a tremendous amount going on beneath the skin, not least the kind of weight loss that might just make good the engineers’ long-standing promise to make the A4 more compelling to drive.

Either way, the car will sell big.

Top 5 Compact saloons

  • The Jaguar XE - the big cat's new compact exec
    Jaguar's new four cylinder 2.0-litre Ingenium diesel engine comes with either 161bhp or 178bhp outputs

    Jaguar XE

    1
  • BMW 3 Series saloon
    BMW 3 Series is priced from £24,975

    BMW 3 Series

    2
  • Ford Mondeo Titanium 180PS

    Ford Mondeo

    3
  • The 2015 Audi A4

    Audi A4

    4
  • Mercedes-Benz C-Class
    The C-Class shares a lot of its looks with the new S-Class, furthering its desirability

    Mercedes-Benz C-Class

    5

First drives

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • Seat Leon 1.4 EcoTSI FR Titanium
    First Drive
    27 May 2016
    High-spec new Titanium FR trim is temptingly good value, particularly on the semi-enthusiastic 1.4 EcoTSI petrol
  • Kia Niro
    First Drive
    27 May 2016
    The Kia Niro will be one of the greenest cars in the compact crossover class when it goes on sale later this year. We drive it to see what else it has to offer
  • Car review
    27 May 2016
    Can the turbocharged successor to the 458 raise the bar again?
  • Car review
    27 May 2016
    The big-in-every-way Bentley SUV lands. We assess the impact
  • Volkswagen Touran 2.0 TDI R-Line
    First Drive
    27 May 2016
    The Volkswagen Touran R-Line offers a sporty twist on the ever-sensible MPV formula. We’ve sampled the punchy 2.0-litre diesel