Welcome to TopGear’s Lap of England

THE FENS

Strange place, the fens. Long, straight roads across megafields full of indeterminate winter crops. Many, many trucks. It's dark and cold, and there's a flutter of snow on the verges. Not a huge amount of inspiration. Up to the A16 and then across to Louth, stitching the area together through back roads straight from a testing facility - subsidence dropping the margins so that the nearside of the car is constantly working at a furious rate while the offside slouches on smooth tarmac. If suspension has rough edges, these roads will prosecute. We up the pace on some arrow-straight fen lanes connected by random 90-degree corners, and let some of the RS's 450bhp loose. Wincing ensues.

The RS4 in Dynamic mode is bracingly stiff, bouncing about, yanking hard through the wheel. Deep puddles lurk in the potholes, the RS4 sending great walls of spray up and over hedges as it judders past, and it's only the clever quattro that prevents it bouncing its way into a cauliflower field. It's one shade off scary. We're only roughly 60 kilometres into the trip. Oops.

We hack up and across, flicker past Grimsby, over the Humber Bridge and stop for coffee. It is here I start to play with the settings on the RS4's Audi drive select adaptive damper system. This proves to be important.