We made the usual smart-alec insiders’ comments about its well-documented lack of boot space and small rear seats and then fell silent for a while. “Still a damn good-looking car,” said my companion. “I thought so,” I replied. “Aged a lot better than a 20-year-old BMW or Merc.” When we got back to the hotel in Sardinia I looked at the new A4 with the same jaundiced eye. Would it still look as good and be the object of as much pride as that old 80? Probably. Because the new A4 is a good-looking motor car, from almost any angle. Not a shouty, look-at-me sort of car like the BMW 3-series, or with the “trainee capitalist expropriator” appeal of the new Mercedes C-class. Just, well, handsome, and quite tough-looking too. It’s that understated, dependable but appealing look that has got the A4 ahead of the BMW and the Mercedes in a lot of European markets and it must worry the other two carmakers quite a lot. Since 1972 and the first Audi 80, the four-ringed badge has been a bit of an underdog to its two German rivals, but now, 35 years and 8.5 million cars down the road, the Audi has become the first choice for many in this sector.