Like the A4 TDIe before it (which is still available in the UK, in 134bhp form) the extra economy is gained partly by taller gearing that reduces engine revs at cruising speeds.
Other contributors are a fast and discrete start-stop system, and sports suspension that lowers the ride height to reduce aerodynamic drag.
The A4 Ultra may have been conceived as an eco warrior but owning one doesn’t mean you trade performance for economy. The engine revs freely to over 5,000rpm and is predictably strong at lower rpm.
Neither do the economy measures add combustion noise. The A4 purrs along, the rev counter sitting on a relaxed 2000rpm in 6th gear at 70mph.
Audi steering isn’t generally noted for being surprising and delighting. It's linear and a little dull as the wheel moves off centre but it's precise and weights up well enough when cornering briskly.
However, the 6-speed manual gearbox is light and satisfying to use. The A4's brakes have a good feel too and are not over-servoed like some.
The lowered suspension might imply a choppy ride, but that wasn’t the case on a test route that was admittedly fairly smooth. Standard 17-inch wheels are the only option as anything larger would interfere with ride height.
As a result, 225/50 17s tyres with their relatively generous profile help soak up rougher surfaces. The handling is certainly composed too, with little roll even when pressing on through corners.
Set to ‘Efficient,’ The Audi Drive Select system adopts a stodgy throttle response to damp out any efficiency-busting exuberance on behalf of the driver. In the absence of active dampers there’s little other change but in Dynamic mode the throttle response makes an about turn with much crisper response.
Otherwise, little else has changed from the standard model apart from an Ultra badge at the rear. On the inside, Audi’s trademark immaculate fit and finish still mark the A4 out as having one of the classiest interiors in the business and comfortable with it.
Choosing the Ultra model doesn’t affect trim and equipment choice in this area and buyers can still choose virtually any combination they like, for a price.