WITH its low tax rating, high economy and generous load capability, the Audi A4 Avant Ultra is the perfect company car.
The premium badge is an added bonus in the executive car park.
But Audi's most frugal mid-sized estate is also a magnet to private family buyers who demand low running costs together with strong residual values.
It might be the slowest A4, but the 2.0-litre TDI with a tidy 148bhp under its belt still manages to polish off 62mph in little more than nine seconds...and that's while sipping fuel at a rate of 70.6mpg according to the official combined figure.
This car was fitted with S tronic seven-speed automatic gearbox which matches the high torque diesel engine well and takes much of the strain out of town driving. Changes are smooth and almost unnoticeable and the system has no adverse effect on either acceleration times or fuel consumption.
My travels took me up and down the east coast of Britain where I averaged just over the 50mpg mark with a best of 59mpg cruising along the A1 at around the legal limit.
Low resistance tyres and lower ride height together with a tweaked engine management system help the Avant merit the Ultra badge.
Unlike other versions in the range, it is not available with quattro four-wheel-drive because the added weight would harm its green credentials.
The lower ground clearance actually adds to the model's driving enjoyment since it has a reduced centre of gravity and less roll through bends improving body control.
Steering is light with little sign of steering-tug under full acceleration. There's not a lot of road-feel, but this is an Audi trait throughout most models. It sticks to the road well with good handling characteristics and better than average adhesion.
The well established four cylinder turbo diesel is pleasantly muted and pulls strongly from just over 2,000rpm. It starts to sound a bit gruff as revs mount but slacken off the throttle and the automatic gearbox slides into a higher ratio cutting the mechanical mutterings to a distant murmur.
The cabin is a pleasant and stylish environment with a contoured and well-thought out facia which uses high grade materials. T
his A4 Avant was fitted with virtual cockpit at £450 which allows the sat-nav to form the backlcloth of the binnacle in front of the driver.
The current A4 Avant is roomier than models gone-by and measures up favourably to rivals 3 Series BMW and Mercedes C-Class in terms of rear passenger space and luggage room. An electronic tailgate lift is standard.
The rear boot can swallow up 505 litres of cargo with the second row of seats in place and up to three times that amount when they are folded down. Only the larger Skoda Super and VW Passat can beat that.