Perceived quality is an area in which Audi’s rivals – in whatever class of vehicle you care to mention – have struggled to keep up of late. Certainly, the RS4 Avant’s chief rival, Mercedes-AMG’s C63 Estate, feels a level or two short of what has been achieved here in terms of materials quality and fit, even if it can claim to offer occupants the marginally warmer, more visually interesting environment.

The RS4 counters with a smart blend of leather and Alcantara – most noticeable on the door cards, although the steering wheel can also be so trimmed – and the kind of ergonomics whereby it takes only a second or two to find a particular button or switch for the first time.

Carbonfibre inlays have been a fast-Audi staple since the days of the RS2 and look slick. They're a £950 option here, mind

The fast-Audi hallmarks are here in abundance too: a flat-bottomed steering wheel, perforated leather, honeycomb stitching and plenty of RS logos. The standard seats, branded ‘super sports’, aren’t quite as supportive as they appear to be as you drop down towards them, although they do have a massage function – a combination of priorities perhaps indicative of the type of buyers Audi envisages for its hottest A4 Avant. 

And, let’s not forget, this car is fundamentally an A4 wagon. It means that despite the supercar-baiting performance, you still get 505 litres of boot space, which is more than anything from the BMW 3 Series and Mercedes C-Class ranges, and rear head room is generous too. Usefully, the rear bench also splits 40/20/40.  

One last thing: before you decide whether to have optional carbonfibre or knurled aluminium inlays, if you want the panoramic roof or head-up display, or whether to tape over the under-door lights that project ‘Audi Sport’ onto the pavement, know that the tremendously suave Lunar Leather Nappa upholstery is a veritable magnet for dark smudges from your indigo jeans. 

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Given Audi’s MMI Navigation Plus 8.3in infotainment system and its 12.3in digital instrument set-up come as standard here, it’s very difficult indeed to find fault with the RS4 Avant’s provision of onboard information-technology.

You will have to pay extra for a reversing camera (£450), a head-up display system (£900) and wireless smartphone charging (£325), but you’d probably expect to do so for all three of those, even on a £60,000 car.  

The car’s infotainment system includes DAB radio, DVD playback, 10GB of onboard storage and online traffic information as standard. It looks great, responds quickly and is easy to use, and allows you to split mapping, entertainment and trip computer information between the central display and instrument binnacle almost entirely as you prefer.

We still think it’s a shame not to be able to retract and stow the car’s central display at times, when you want the dash to look cleaner or at night, to reduce technoglare. But it’s a minor demerit on an otherwise fine showing.