Ever had the feeling something can£€™t really be happening? Well, I certainly had it the other day. An Audi scared me and I wasn£€™t trying to wring out one of their 600bhp chariots of fire.
It was a perfectly pleasant Avant turbo diesel estate and we had been getting on just fine. But after turning on to a very wet motorway the car suddenly felt like it was aquaplaning and I was fighting the steering.
Acceleration seemed to increase stability then it came back again. Eventually, I realised the problem was the creeping electronics affecting all new cars as we rush, unasked for, into the world of driverless cars.
A system to keep the car between white lines was intervening and tugging the steering. Clearly, it should not be used in such conditions but the previous driver had left it switched on.
Turning it off the sweet nature of the 148bhp 2-litre TDi Sport returned. The Avant is an exceptionally sleek and elegant looking car with dramatic headlights and lists at £31,265.
Metallic paint added £645 to that and lovely leather and Alcantara interior trim another £1,150. The, ahem, driver assistance pack, was a further £1,250.
The test car was also fitted with the £1,450 technology pack with a tablet computer-like screen that delivers both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity. My phone connected easily.
You can call up the satellite navigation map in the main instrument binnacle if you have ticked the virtual cockpit box (£450). It£€™s great the way you can shrink the speedometer and rev counter to show more of the map.
Just how low the Avant is if you are tall I discovered when I needed to load it repeatedly.£ Ohh, the back ache. At least the tailgate closes electrically. There£€™s a class-leading 505 litres of luggage space back there which extends to 1,510 litres with the seats folded down.
Everything about the Audi is substantial; not just the car itself and from its weight and rigidity there£€™s no doubt the dog guard would hold back a seriously big mutt. There£€™s a good rear cover too that hides your possessions but you are not meant to leave anything on it.
With a strong slug of torque from 1,500rpm the car was usefully brisk away from rest when in town traffic or nipping on to a roundabout. It has good pace but fuel consumption still averaged 50.8mpg overall.
Tramping on across Gloucestershire one night I thought the brakes were a bit too spongy but a change of pads would probably fix that and it£€™s a matter of personal taste anyway.
And despite some roughish roads, there wasn£€™t a creak, groan or rattle from the car which is more than I could say about a pal£€™s Ferrari over the same road.£ In the well shaped, electrically adjustable seats it was easy to do three hours driving and get out without a twinge.
We didn£€™t like the look of the prominent cup holders ahead of the gear lever. They spoil the cabin style and would be better with a sliding cover. A flat panel, also on the centre console, can charge your mobile phone by induction so that you don£€™t have to use a cable to plug it in.
The sporty looking steering wheel is as good to look at as it is to use. The Avant rode comfortably and there are four driver-selectable suspension choices to tune things further. The six-speed manual gearbox had a precise action and a light clutch.
Also consider; BMW 3 Series Touring, Mercedes C-Class Estate.
Verdict Best in class looks, practicality and desirability