Back in the day, the phenomenon of hyperniching was pretty much left to the guys from Stuttgart. ("How about we launch an almost pointless jacked-up SUV people carrier thing?" "Great!") However, times have changed, and now it appears that Audi is also keen to cash in on the potential of micro-markets.
So we find ourselves at the wheel of the new A4 Allroad - a car set to fill the unsightly and gaping hole between a traditional A4 Avant and the off-roady Q5, which is in itself a jacked-up A4 chassis.
Misgivings about company policy aside, there's actually very little wrong with the A4 Allroad - it drives, steers and stops with alacrity, precision and plenty of bite respectively. The 237bhp, 3.0-litre six-cylinder diesel engine feels reassuringly beefy and well up to the task of hauling the Allroad, plus Bunty's horsebox and pedigree pony, to every gymkhana in the country - and, thanks to its increased ride height (37mm), just as comfy finding its way across a pocked field as along a motorway.
So, it's actually a good car. It does what it's supposed to, and it does it well. But was it really a niche that needed filling? Well, for those who aren't keen on the tall SUVness of the A4-based Q5, or for whom the normal low-riding A4 Avant just isn't butch enough, or who find the A6 Allroad just too big... then, yes, presumably it was. Whoever they are.