IT may no longer be the cutting edge of fashion - that dubious honour almost certainly goes to high-riding SUVs - but the estate car still finds a place in the hearts (and driveways) of many families.
And the sportier the styling, the more appealing the concept. Which is where the Audi A4 Avant comes in...
Audi was among the first to cast off the estate car tag in favour of a fresh name which represented a more rakish, multi-purpose image without losing the obvious practicality of a load carrying estate.
And the A4 has sold well in Avant form ever since. Its rounded lines and raked tailgate may sacrifice a few litres in terms of space but it gains bucket-loads of attention when it comes to kerb appeal and style.
Here we drive the 40 TFSI version which is probably the best blend of punchy performance alongside wallet-sparing economy.
Its 2.0, 201bhp four cylinder engine means a sub-eight second sprint to 62mph while allowing E10 to be consumed at around the 40mpg mark.
As standard you get a seven speed automatic gearbox with steering wheel, paddles. The mild hybrid system boosts economy and also allows an immediacy of power that improves the driving experience.
The essence of the A4 Avant in this guise is ease of passage and refinement rather than performance. It's pleasingly quiet, even when hurried and the seats, particularly those n the front are well shaped and hugely comfortable. There's the fire-breathing RS 4 if you're looking for thumping power.
Cabin design is typical Audi with top quality materials and tightly fitting panels. There's the usual vertical touchscreen in the centre of the fascia and the steering wheel has a number of scroll wheels that allow you to switch between audio and phone settings.
However, the heating is controlled by traditional, old-school knobs and buttons. A welcome sight for most of us.
Impressive though the interior is, it has now been copied and tweaked by so many manufacturers that it no longer stands head and shoulders above the rivals.
Rear seat legroom is a bit limited if the front seat fold choose to maximise their legroom. Head and shoulder room in the back is quite acceptable despite the sloping tailgate.
Rear boot space at 495 litres is somewhat less than some competitors but sufficient for most family breaks. The seats split and fold in the usual fashion.
In two-wheel drive form, the Avant may lack the ultimate traction of its dearer 4WD sister, the Quattro, in ice and snow but for most owners its dynamic ability will prove more than sufficient.
Fitted with 19-inch alloy wheels, the S Line version both looks and drives nicely. Little sign of front drive torque steer and there's a decent amount of road-feel to the power steering.
Standard equipment is generous with front and rear sensors, sat nav, heated front seats, rear privacy glass and leather upholstery all in with the price.