Parkers overall rating: 4 out of 5 4.0

For power, pace and performance the S4 ticks all the boxes. There’s only one engine available – a 333bhp 3.0-litre TFSI petrol - and it propels the S4 saloon from 0-62mph in just 5.1 seconds (5.3 seconds with the automatic). It may not have the deep rumble of the V8 in the Audi S5, but it's incredibly punchy and offers effortless acceleration which almost never ends.

It's great out of slow corners too with instant response. The S4 Avant is only 0.1 seconds slower from 0-62mph and so feels just as rapid. Buyers opting for the convenience of the S tronic automatic gearbox benefit from its super-quick gearchanges. It has two clutches working at the same time to deliver rapid, yet seamless, power from bottom through to the top gear.

Unusually, automatic S4 models are actually more economical than the manuals.

The S4 comes with permanent all-wheel drive, to aid stability, along with a system that cleverly sends power to each rear wheel individually when cornering for greater agility. This means that tight twists can be taken safe in the knowledge that the latest handling technology is in the driver’s corner. But it does take something away from the experience and at times it feels like the S4 is steering itself – reassuring yet somewhat removed from the action.

Drivers can customise the suspension setup of the car using three presets: automatic, which the majority of drivers will use most of the time; comfort, for a more forgiving ride; and dynamic, which stiffens the suspension for sportier driving. Audi calls this optional system Drive Select and it’s also available on standard A4 models.