THE Audi A4 has been a pioneer in lightweight vehicle technology since its appearance in the mid-1990s.
And it has certainly gone from strength to strength in the hotly contested premium saloon arena since those early days.
Competing in the marketplace against such formidable wheels as the Mercedes-Benz C-Class and BMW 3 Series, the A4, successor to the much loved Audi 80, just can't stop picking up awards.
Car of the Year honours just seem to come naturally to it, basically because Audi pitch the car at the right price and with the right mix of features and quality that make it a magnet to premium saloon buyers.
Up to 120kg lighter than outgoing models, the latest A4 is more powerful, more efficient and more intelligent.
Its hallmark is elegant design blending in with innovative control concepts. Here lightweight construction meets new, efficient drivetrain solutions.
The A4 saloon, in addition to its light weight has the best drag coefficient in its class at 0.23.
I drove one of the most popular choices, the 2.0 TDI 190ps S line which is an agile performer with 147mph on tap and a 0-62mph zoom factor of 7.7 seconds.
Its low weight and slippery contours help to make this all-singing, all-dancing upmarket choice achieve a combined mpg figure of 67.3mpg which is impressive for such a performer. And CO2 emissions are surprisingly low at 111g/km.
But one of this car's major features is an interior you just don't want to get out of.
Painstakingly crafted materials, supremely comfortable seats and quality everywhere sets the scene. The front of the dashboard features a broad band of air outlets and a large decorative surface. At night, optional discreet contour lighting illuminates the doors and the central console.
Worthy of note is the seven-speed S tronic transmission which is ideally suited to the 2.0 diesel to make for an utterly smooth power flow.
In formulating the new A4, Audi heeded customer feedback and made the car stiffer and more comfortable.
The suspension and steering filter out disturbances such as an uneven road surface, but communicate to the driver important information such as increases in lateral forces and tracking.
This performance is based on the redeveloped five-link axles and the electromechanical power steering. They lay the foundation for dynamic handling and first-class ride comfort while also reducing fuel consumption.