If we had our pick of the new A4 range, we'd choose this version. The 3.0-litre TDI is effortlessly fast and despite not matching its rivals on pure power, makes up for this with grunt. All 442lb ft of torque is available from just 1500rpm, resulting in fierce acceleration from low revs.
Power is managed brilliantly by Audi's 8-speed automatic transmission, which provides smooth and fast changes. It's so good, in fact, that you'd rarely be tempted to take manual control with the steering wheel-mounted paddles but be assured that if you do, the experience is suitably engaging.
What's equally impressive is the A4's interior. As we've found with other models in the range, Audi has worked wonders in lifting the fit, finish and perceived quality of its mass-market saloon.
A particular highlight is the redesigned gearlever which now takes on a chunkier, more tactile form. Also worthy of a special mention is the virtual cockpit - a £450 option - which already features in the TT and Q7.
Indeed it works as well here as it does in those models, bringing a variety of infotainment and navigation data to the driver's field of vision in an easy-to-use format. Coupled with the larger central infotainment screen and features such as adaptive cruise control and Audi's traffic jam assist system, the A4 is a technical tour de force.
There is a downside to the car, and that's its steering. As with all A4s, the 3.0 TDI comes with Audi's drive select system. It offers five damper, throttle response and steering weight modes.
While there's some difference to be found between them - the most noticeable being Dynamic - the steering still feels wooden and devoid of feeling. The Jaguar XE has the upper hand, here, since it feels more engaging and dynamically capable. We did make use of Audi's quattro all-wheel drive system, too, which aids acceleration and adds security when conditions are less than ideal.
Despite its lowered ride height, this A4 still feels comfortable. Make no mistake, the low-speed ride is on the firm side but in corners there is little or no body roll. Meanwhile, on the motorway, the A4 is composed and absorbs imperfections well. Our car's £450 optional acoustic front window glazing also makes sure that virtually no wind or road noise makes its way to the cabin.
The sports seats are very comfortable, while the extra 23mm of rear leg room in this latest A4 is really noticeable. Three adults will feel a little cramped on the back seat but two six-footers will be perfectly comfortable.