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Super smooth with quiet power
Audi A4. Supplied picture

Across the Audi range there is some very exciting equipment, which is more than capable of meeting, and beating most other German performance cars.

But all that fun comes at a price and the development bill is largely paid by Audi's biggest seller, the A4 range, now in its eighth generation and still ringing the cash registers in every market it sells in.

Far from being a bread-and-butter model, the latest evolution of the mid-size Audi, with Sedan, Avant (wagon) and S4 variants, injects a high level of sophistication and luxury into a model line that has captured roughly 10 million adherents since its introduction nearly 40 years ago.

Audi-watchers will recognise exterior styling changes which make the cars look sleeker and more distinctive.

But the interior has had the biggest makeover and a carefully planned mixture of chrome surrounds, Nappa leather, aluminium inlays and genuine wood highlights will help prise open the chequebook of anyone that sits in the car in the showroom. The MMI navigation and infotainment system has been nudged nearer to your desktop or laptop experience by combining the controls in a central selector with four quasi-mouse buttons.

Embedded controls in the steering wheel easily replace console selectors when on the go, and despite the vast range of electronic features available it didn't take long to get familiar with driving, listening, finding and Bluetooth phoning all at the same time.

Over a few hundred kilometres I drove most engine combinations and was surprised that each model, from the 1.8-litre four-cylinder petrol with a healthy 125kW, to the 3.0-litre V6 S4 with a thumping 245kW, drove with great stability and safety.

Despite this, the average fuel consumption improvement over the previous model across the A4 range is still an impressive 11 per cent.

The price range is nearly as spectacular as the power difference. You can start A4-ing at $52,700, however, if you want to be the most accomplished get-there-quickly person, you can invest $123,900.

All-wheel-drive is an Audi benchmark, yet even the front-wheel-drive models handled tricky corners with aplomb.

I'm told the country route from Hobart to Launceston is a great scenic drive, but I missed it. The corners were too much fun, no matter what model I was in.

At one stage we were driving through some tight hilly roads that were bounded on each side by frost from the overnight snap. Some kind folk had spread grit on the road to avoid black-ice accidents but it was still very slippery, No problem for the quattro 3.0-litre I was driving.

Whether you or another member of your family are in this car, you can be confident they'll have to do something really stupid to end up off the road.

Safety-wise, radar underpins the adaptive cruise control, which will throw out all the anchors below 30kmh if a collision is inevitable.

Lane assist helps you stay on track and a "break recognition function" analyses steering and other parameters to detect if the driver is getting tired, displaying an alert that recommends pulling over and catching some sleep.

Hopefully, they'll notice it before they nod off.

Highlights? The 2.0-litre TDI Multitronic transmission with super-smooth and quiet power. And of course the S4 which can only be improved by the outrageous RS version due later on.

Lowlights? None. Loved it.