I'd just passed Noyelles-sur-Mer, cruising on the A16 at 80mph en route to Le Mans, when I finally decided it was time for a break.

After all, by that point I'd been behind the wheel of our new long-term Audi A3 saloon for almost four hours, including the trip under the Channel Tunnel.

What bemused me slightly, however, was that I felt like I could quite happily driving along indefinitely in the A3 – which was no mean feat.

Its 1.4-litre TFSI petrol engine is refined at cruising speeds and capable of delivering decent acceleration, even from 60mph upwards, while the seven-speed dual-clutch transmission rifles through the available ratios quickly and smoothly.

With the sports suspension deleted and a decent amount of sidewall, it rides in a pliant and comfortable fashion too. This, coupled with supportive seats and myriad workload-reducing features like cruise control, meant that it is an effortless car to drive.

For a smaller car to prove so unobtrusive on what was a 380-mile high-speed motorway trip was an impressive achievement. Even in heavy traffic, as I passed through Rouen, its comparatively small footprint and automatic transmission kept stress to a minimum.