Whether you’re a car nut with gasoline in your veins or you regard that machine in the driveway as just an appliance or even a necessary evil, everyone has (or had) a car that they regret selling. Think about this and then send me, before Nov. 7, no more than 250 words that begin with “The car (truck, SUV, van, golf cart) I most regret selling (giving away, wrecking, junking, burning to the ground) was a . . . ” and then tell me why. Did something unforgettable happen in it, or because of it? Has it become an object of rosy nostalgia? Shot up in value as a collectible? Or is it just that every car since that one has been horrid?

The best response will receive his or her choice of what I’m calling Detroit Iron or Foreign Fantasies — prize packs of five glossy new automotive books from Motorbooks/Quarto, which look great, read well and are worth quite a lot of coin.

A photo of “the one that got away” is not a must, but a good one could help tip the odds your way.

The deadline is soon — Nov. 7. My email address is at the bottom of this column. The winning entry will be chosen based on heart-rending sincerity, and/or interest, and/or that it made me fall off my chair laughing. By entering, you’re giving me permission to edit your submission as needed and publish it. The results will show up here (in about 200 newspapers) in the week of Nov. 14, and your prize books will arrive shortly after. Good luck.

And now normal service resumes with a look at the 2017 Audi A4 2.0T quattro S tronic compact sedan.

As Gilbert & Sullivan might put it, the re-engineered A4 is the very model of a modern major automobile, with all the good — and the questionable — that entails. It could be the poster child for leading-edge automotive design, an elegant and almost brilliant $50,000 (with many options) car that is so thought-out, tech-savvy and complex that it feels simple again. That’s sophistication: Making complicated things look easy.

The new A4 pairs a high-achieving 2.0-liter turbo Four — rated for 252 horsepower and 273 lb.-ft. of torque — with a 7-speed, dual-clutch gearbox that shifts itself or lets the driver do it. Both engine and transmission seem friction-free; and Audi’s permanent quattro all-wheel drive connects them to the ground. Quattro technology features a third, central differential — inside the transmission — and continuously varies the power to each of the A4’s corners according to engine RPM and torque, forward and lateral acceleration, and the individual rotation speed of the wheels. This is complicated, nth-degree engineering that is completely invisible to a driver, who simply thinks, “Hey, the roads aren’t as bad as I thought.”

The A4’s $8,600 Prestige Package includes Drive Select, which changes the behavior of the engine, gearbox, suspension and steering. With a button on the console, the driver can pick Comfort, Auto or Dynamic driving — and with Multi Media Interface (MMI) she can also program an individual setting, a personal mix of steering, throttle, shifting and suspension responses. This is alongside the Sport mode in the transmission, which can be engaged no matter what the rest of the car is up to.

The various modes are distinctly different, and we can make ourselves crazy before finally settling on Auto and letting the computer decide; it’s always paying attention, always on our side and always seems to know best, or better.

There’s a lot to like in this A4, such as the Virtual Cockpit, which spreads a Google Earth map across the driver’s screen, to show what looks like a drone’s view of the car moving through the landscape in real time. But there’s also the distinct sensation that all the driver’s inputs have to be analyzed and interpreted by some electronic higher court before they’re approved and passed on to the actual gears, pistons and wheels, non-linearly and with slight hesitation. As cars become more digital and electronic, more and more of them suffer from this. David Sax, writing about synthetic food in The New Yorker, nailed what the technology industry misses about so many things: “The human, tactile and highly pleasurable world we want to live in.”
But of course we’re in the run-up to self-driving cars, and when they arrive we won’t fret about this any more.

— Silvio Calabi reviews the latest from Detroit, Munich, Yokohama, Gothenburg, Crewe, Seoul and wherever else interesting cars are born. Silvio is a member of the International Motor Press Association whose automotive reviews date back to the Reagan administration. He is the former publisher of Speedway Illustrated magazine and an author. Contact him at calabi.silvio@gmail.com.

Plus
— Power and performance plus-27.8 MPG average
— Quattro all-wheel drive
— Supple ride
— Interior is an architect/designer’s dream
Minus
— Faint but irritating hesitations
— Anesthetized steering