So what sort of performance car is this new oil-burning S4? Previous incarnations haven’t always stood out as being the most involving driver’s cars but the shift that’s occurred here - which makes the S4 more of a devastatingly quick, refined and technologically advanced long-distance cruise missile than ever – seems well calculated.

Used thoughtfully, it’s a highly credible machine indeed. The S4’s cabin is easily up with the best in class for fit and finish; the diesel V6 is immensely potent and impressively refined and it can be remarkably frugal; and the car’s handling remains supremely secure, regardless of the conditions underfoot.

Diesel power sparks an appealing new identity for this fast Audi

That the S4 is still not the most expressive or engaging driver’s car will shock no one. But the repositioning that the introduction of diesel power has brought about seems to make this less of an issue than before. In fact, it shines a light on what looks to be a compelling new niche for the model. Some will lament the petrol S4’s European demise, but this new diesel model could well mark the start of an interesting new chapter for the compact, everyday-use, S express Audi.

What Car? New car buyer marketplace - Audi A4 saloon