The fifth-generation Audi A4 will cost from £25,900 when it goes on sale in the UK this November.
The new A4 features an evolutionary exterior, contemporary interior, heavily revised petrol and diesel engine line-up and a newly developed chassis. The car is on display for the first time at the Frankfurt motor show.
Styled under former Audi design boss Wolfgang Egger prior to his move to Giugario in early 2014, the new A4 boasts an evolutionary appearance that is intended to make it look more formal than its main rivals, the BMW 3 Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class, in line with feedback gained from existing customers in its largest markets, China, Germany and USA.
Key elements include a wider single-frame grille, newly shaped headlights with revised LED daytime running light graphics, a clamshell-style bonnet, larger wheelhouses, a flatter roof, a more prominent shoulder with a deep swage line running the length of the flanks, greater structure in the lower part of the doors, sharp new tail-lights featuring a new take on Audi’s traditional LED graphics and, on the saloon, a higher boot lid.
Although appearing a lot like a facelifted version of its predecessor, every body panel is described as new. Greater attention to aerodynamics, including the adoption of a largely flat undertray and detailed sculpturing around the rear end, has also netted the new Audi a class-leading drag co-efficient of 0.23 for the saloon.
The new A4 has grown, but only slightly. With a length of 4726mm, width of 1842mm and height of 1427mm, it is 25mm longer, 16mm wider and the same height as its predecessor in saloon guise. This makes it 41mm longer, 32mm wider and 13mm lower than the latest Mercedes-Benz C-Class. The adoption of the latest evolution of Audi’s MLB platform has also seen its wheelbase increase by 12mm to 2820mm.
While its exterior styling leans heavily on that of its predecessor, the interior of the new A4 boasts a contemporary new design that provides it with greater space than ever before. Audi claims an additional 24mm of head room in combination with 11mm more shoulder room up front. The incremental stretch in the wheelbase has also provided the basis for a 23mm increase in rear seat legroom.
Audi also promises added levels of comfort through the adoption of newly designed seats that are claimed to weigh 9kg less than those of the old model.
Boot space is up by 15 litres in the new A4 Avant at 505 litres, increasing to 1510 litres when the standard 40/20/40 split rear seat is folded away. By comparison, the BMW 3 Series Touring boasts a nominal 495 litres, while the Mercedes-Benz C-class Estate offers 490 litres.
Buyers can choose between a wide range of high-end options including a 12.3in digital instrument panel, an 8.3in monitor, inductive charging pad for mobile phones, sensor control opening of the luggage compartment, a Bang & Olufsen sound system, tablet-based rear seat entertainment and the latest version of the German car maker’s Multi Media Interface (MMI) system that features an LTE internet connection.
Among a list of standard safety items is Audi’s pre sense city system, which has been developed to prevent accidents at typical urban driving speeds. Using a windscreen stereo camera to monitor the road, it provides an acoustic warning and full preventative braking at speeds up to 25mph.
The new A4 will be launched with a choice of three turbocharged four-cylinder petrol, two four-cylinder diesel and two V6 diesel engines, all featuring EU6 emission compliance. They are claimed to provide power increases of up to 25 per cent and economy gains of up to 21 per cent over the engines they succeed.
A new 1.4-litre four-cylinder petrol unit delives 148bhp, or 30bhp more than the previous base 1.8-litre four-cylinder petrol engine it replaces. This is sufficient to provide the price-leading A4 1.4 TFSI saloon with 0-62mph acceleration of 8.9sec and a 131mph top speed together with combined consumption of 57.7mpg and CO2 emissions of 114g/km in combination with the optional S tronic dual-clutch automatic gearbox.
Further up the range is a reworked version of Audi’s 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine. It comes in two differing states of tune, providing the new A4 2.0 TFSI with either 187bhp or 248bhp. Audi quotes a 0-62mph time of 7.3sec and a top speed of 149mph along with figures of 58.8mpg and 114g/km for the former, while the latter boasts a 0-62mph time of 5.8sec, a limited 155mph top speed, 49.6mpg and 129g/km, both in combination with the optional S tronic gearbox.
Among the quartet of diesels available at launch will be Audi’s familiar 2.0-litre four-cylinder unit. Updated with a new AdBlue exhaust injection system as mandated by EU6 emission regulations, it initially comes in two states of tune, with either 148bhp or 187bhp in what has traditionally been the strongest selling model in the line-up, the A4 2.0 TDI.
The former provides 0-62mph acceleration of 8.6sec and a 136mph top speed, together with combined consumption of 74.3mpg and CO2 emissions of 99g/km in combination with the optional S tronic gearbox. The latter boasts an official 0-62mph time of 7.7sec and a 147mph top speed as well as 68.9mpg and 107g/km.
In line with recent new Audi models, the A4 2.0 TDI will be available as an aerodynamically optimised Ultra model featuring exterior styling tweaks, revised gearbox ratios, lowered suspension and low-rolling-resistance tyres. In 148bhp guise it is claimed to return 76.4mpg and 95g/km in saloon form, making it the most economical car in its class according to Audi.
Rounding out the launch line-up is a 3.0-litre V6 diesel. As with the outgoing A4, it comes in two states of tune, developing either 218bhp or 272bhp in the A4 3.0 TDI. Provisional figures suggest the former will return 67.3mpg for average CO2 emissions of 110g/km.
Also planned but not confirmed for UK sale is a natural gas-powered model. Set for sale during the second half of 2016 in Avant guise only, the A4 Avant g-tron runs a 170bhp version of the turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine used in other new A4 models adapted to run on either petrol or natural gas. Allied with a series of tanks mounted at the rear, it is claimed to provide a range of up to 280 miles using natural gas and 311 miles on petrol.
Front-wheel drive is standard on all models save for the initial range-topping A4 3.0 TDI, which receives a four-wheel drive system that apportions power in a nominal 40/60 front/rear split. Four-wheel drive is also optional on the 248bhp A4 2.0 TFSI as well as the 187bhp A4 2.0 TDI.
Gearbox choices include a newly developed six-speed manual on all four-cylinder engines. It eschews the aluminium housing of the old unit for a new magnesium housing, which, in combination with a new differential, hollows shafts and a smaller clutch plate, helps bring a 16kg reduction in weight.
Gone is the old continuously variable Multitronic automatic gearbox. It is replaced by a revised version of the existing seven-speed dual-clutch S tronic unit, which is available for the first time on front-wheel drive A4 models and comes as standard on the least powerful of the two 3.0-litre V6 diesels. The more powerful 3.0-litre V6 diesel engine receives a standard eight-speed automatic featuring a coasting function that idles the engine on a trailing throttle for added fuel saving.
The 2015 model-year A4 is underpinned by a newly developed suspension featuring a five-link arrangement both front and rear and either standard 16 or 17-inch wheels and tyres depending on the engine. The components for the front suspension are now made predominantly out of aluminium, reducing weight by a claimed 8kg. The adoption of the new five-link design at the rear in place of the previous trapezoidal link arrangement has saved a further 5kg. The steering is via a new speed-sensitive electro-mechanical system with a nominal 15.9:1 ratio and is claimed to be 3.5kg lighter than that used on the outgoing model.
In models from the 190bhp 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel upwards, the new A4 comes with Audi’s so-called Drive Select system as standard, allowing the driver to alter the characteristics of the throttle, steering and gearbox.
In a bid to provide the new car with broader dynamic appeal, buyers can option it with variable shock absorbers providing the choice between Comfort and Sport modes and a variable-ratio steering system. Models running quattro four-wheel drive can also be enhanced with a revised torque-vectoring function which varies the amount of drive going to each of the rear wheels in a bid to provide more neutral cornering characteristics. This so-called Sport Differential is claimed to react faster and weigh 1kg less than that offered on the fourth-generation A4.
Available in SE, Sport and S Line specifications, the new A4 will be priced from £25,900 for the 1.4-litre TFSI model. Avant models with that engine - which will go on sale in April of next year - start at £27,300. The range extends upwards to the top-level Avant 3.0 V6 TDI Quattro, which costs £40,350 when coupled with an eight-speed tiptronic transmission.
Get the latest car news, reviews and galleries from Autocar direct to your inbox every week. Enter your email address below: