AUDI has established itself as the undisputed experts when it comes to automotive evolution.
Every so often they might throw a bit of a wild card into the mix but most models seem to have the knack of evolving seamlessly - changing and moving forward at a measured and gradual pace rather than doing anything radical.
If you were to line-up a 15-year-old A4 Avant next to the current version it would be easy to see just how much ‘evolution' has gone on in terms of its development - evidence that despite that slow and gradual approach Audi certainly doesn't stand still when it comes to design.
The A4 Avant is a great example of how estate cars can still look dynamic and stylish - in truth I'd opt for it over a more sedate saloon and it also comes with added practicality via its 505-litre boot, which trumps its premium rivals.
Fold the rear seats down and you'll get 1,510 litres of space, which is exactly on a par with a Mercedes C-Class Estate.
Looks-wise it has quite a solid style with a distinctive rear end that combines a purposeful chunkiness with sweeping lines - very cleverly done.
It used to be the case that if you wanted an estate that boasted good looks you needed to compromise on boot space but that certainly isn't the case with the current A4 Avant.
It also has all those Audi trademarks that have seen the brand win friends a-plenty - exemplary build quality and the kind of interior finishing to which pretty much everyone must aspire to.
The cabin is characterised by a wraparound design that's difficult to fault and pretty much every fixture and fitting has the hallmark of premium quality.
It also scores highly space-wise offering an exceptionally roomy and family-friendly car.
Audi has one advantage over its main premium rivals BMW and Mercedes, due to being front-wheel drive. It means there's none of the rear-wheel drive mechanicals going down the centre of the car thus maximising space - particularly for the middle rear seat passenger.
As far as UK buyers go, most will no doubt opt for one of the diesel engines on offer. There are 148bhp and 187bhp versions of Volkswagen Group's 2.0-litre unit or a more potent 3.0-litre.
This was the lower powered of the 2.0-litre units and it felt capable and powerful enough for most needs.
In ‘Ultra' guise, as this was, it also offers CO2 emissions of just 104g/km.
Despite the ongoing issue over emissions this widely used 2.0-litre unit continues to be one of the best real world four-cylinder performers, being smooth and refined and in many ways a step ahead of competitors in that regard.
If you're going to be loading it fully on a regular basis there might be times you would want the potency of the more powerful 2.0-litre diesel but I certainly didn't find it lacking in terms of performance.
Dynamically it's a good car to drive too and while its BMW rival might have the edge in this regard it is in no way lacking.
Ride quality is also impressive and for the duration of my time at the wheel I found it an exceptionally comfortable car to travel in on all kinds of roads.
I also found the slick-shifting manual gearbox very easy to live with too. These days it's tempting to plump for the ease of an automatic but a good and smooth manual makes it seem like a luxury rather than an essential.
In terms of trim levels there's SE, Sport and S line to choose from with S4 and RS4 models set to join the range at a later date.