A step or eight above the manner to which we are generally accustomed, this BMW 530d M-Sport X-Drive made the 3,000-plus miles we drove last month while covering Tour de France almost a joy.

With 1,700-litre boot capacity and self-levelling suspension, even the most luggage-laden of us were always going to find enough room.

Meanwhile the iDrive infotainment system with its enormous touchscreen kept the passengers entertained for hours on the road when we should really have been swotting up on the route or filing some copy from our laptops.

What’s more, the impressive Lane Change Assistant and various other driver aids provide semi-autonomous driving at up to 130mph — a speed that, in ‘Sport’ mode in particular — is easily and quickly reached. Apparently. Not that we’d know.

A blend of comfort, practicality, capability and visceral driving experience, there were long faces all round when it was finally time to return this car.