Currently reading: New 2023 Audi A4 Avant undergoes tests in the Alps
Next-generation A4 range will be topped by electric and hybrid RS4 duo

A prototype of the new Audi A4 Avant has been pictured testing on mountainous roads in the Alps, ahead of the production model’s launch which is slated for 2023. 

Like many other pre-production prototypes spotted on the road, the A4 Avant was photographed with a distorted black and white livery, though the most significant changes to the model’s design are clear to see. 

A low, wide front grille, slimline headlights and a more rakish roofline look to be the key differentiators from the current car – and while this mule's distinctive circular rear lights may not make it to production, we would expect a redesign at the back, too. 

Entering its sixth generation, the Audi A4 line-up will include an electric-only four-wheel-drive performance RS model and a hybrid RS4 to top a line-up underpinned by two different platforms, according to well-placed Ingolstadt insiders. 

One platform will be used for combustion-engined hybrid variants and the other for pure-electric models.

Volume-selling versions of Audi’s long-running BMW 3 Series rival will continue to be sold in saloon and estate (Avant) bodystyles based on a modified version of the existing MLB platform, which underpins a wide variety of other Volkswagen Group models.

The Audi A4 Avant has now broken cover for the first time on public roads, giving clues to a design overhaul that will bring it into line with the brand's newer models, including the Audi E-tron line of EVs. A low, wide front grille, slimline headlights and a more rakish roofline look to be the key differentiators from the current car – and while this mule's distinctive circular rear lights may not make it to production, we would expect a redesign at the back, too. 


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The new A4 will offer a range of upgraded petrol and diesel engines equipped with either mild- or plug-in hybrid assistance and offered in both front- and four-wheel-drive (quattro) layouts.

Markus Hoffmann, head of R&D at Audi, said: “We already have electrification modules today, from mild hybrids to plug-in hybrids – and we will be focusing even more intensively on electrification in the cars that follow.”

Electrification will extend throughout the range, all the way up to the successor to the RS4, which will retain today’s twin-turbocharged 2.9-litre V6 petrol engine but is in line to receive electric assistance that will lift its output beyond the 444bhp and 443lb ft of the existing model.

Also under development at the German car maker is the new pure-electric A4 E-tron. Set to challenge the Tesla Model 3 and newly unveiled BMW i4, it is based around the Premium Platform Electric (PPE) architecture that has been developed in a joint engineering programme between Audi and Volkswagen Group sibling company Porsche .

The PPE platform used by the A4 E-tron will be shared with the upcoming Audi Q6 E-tron, as well as an electric version of the second-generation Porsche Macan currently under development. The architecture will also underpin the new Audi A6 E-tron, recently revealed in concept form and which, like the A4 E-tron, will be sold alongside its combustion-engined namesake until petrol and diesel are discontinued.

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The new electric A4 is set to adopt broadly similar exterior styling to its combustion-engined siblings but will be differentiated visually by a blanked-off grille and other unique design elements to further improve its aerodynamic efficiency. Although not yet confirmed, it is likely to feature a five-door layout with a liftback-style tailgate similar to today’s A5 Sportback, following the lead of the A6 E-tron.

The A4 E-tron will be sold with a choice of single-motor rear-drive and dual-motor four-wheel-drive (quattro) layouts when it arrives in 2024.

The line-up will be crowned by an electric RS performance model from the Audi Sport division, packing up to 469bhp and 590lb ft.

Audi is committed to introducing up to 20 new pure-electric models by 2025. But with the existing A4 accounting for roughly a fifth of annual global Audi sales in recent years, a move to electric power exclusively for its successor was considered too premature by Ingolstadt decision makers, who have said the company will produce petrol and diesel A4s through to 2030.

Dimensionally, the new A4 is said to be little changed over today’s model, which stretches to 4772mm in length, 1847mm in width and 1435mm in height. By comparison, the A6 E-tron concept is 4939mm long, 1960mm wide and 1457mm tall.

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Among the changes made to the MLB platform used by petrol and diesel versions of the new A4 is a modified rear structure to package a 14.4kWh (usable) lithium ion battery. Set to feature on upcoming plug-in hybrid A4 models, it is the same battery used by plug-in versions of today’s Q5, A6 and A7. It is also found in the Porsche Cayenne E-Hybrid and Panamera E-Hybrid.

Details remain scarce, but the same battery currently fitted to today’s larger models gives a WLTP electric driving range of up to 45 miles, which Audi could seek to boost nearer to the 62-mile claimed EV range of the new Mercedes-Benz C-Class.

Further developments for the MLB platform include a new electric architecture with 48V capability. This enables the adoption of additional functions such as the Dynamic All-Wheel Steering system used by the A6, A7, A8, Q7 and Q8, as well as new level two autonomous driving functions currently being developed by Audi’s Car.Software division.

It also provides the base for a range of new digital and connectivity features. Among them is near-field communication functionality being developed by Audi and Huawei. This enables contactless payment for refuelling or charging, tolls, parking, drive-through dining and other services from within the car via the MyAudi app.

Autocar understands the new A4 will run an updated version of the current model’s aluminium-intensive multi-link front and rear suspension, with adaptive damping on selected models. Earlier speculation suggested the next A4 would receive rear air springs, although they may be reserved exclusively for the A4 E-tron.

The key combustion engine for the 2023 A4 is a fifth-generation version of the Audi-developed turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder EA888 petrol unit. First introduced in 2008, it is being re-engineered to meet stiff new Euro 7 emission regulations with a number of innovations, including newly developed fuel injection and particulate filter systems.

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The reworked combustion engines for the A4 are set to be mated exclusively to either a seven-speed dual-clutch or eight-speed torque-converter automatic gearbox to guarantee maximum efficiency and bring emissions down as far as possible. The six-speed manual gearbox available on today’s model will be made redundant as part of plans to reduce parts complexity.

The PPE platform underpinning the new A4 E-tron will be predominantly the same structure used by the A6 E-tron, but with a shorter wheelbase and narrower tracks.

A development of the J1 platform used by the Audi E-tron GT and Porsche Taycan, it can accommodate battery packs of various capacities. The largest version is set to provide the new Audi model with a range of up to 435 miles, together with an 800V system that offers charging at speeds of up to 270kW.

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MikeeG 25 May 2021

Thing is the whole range should be electric from 2023.

gagaga 26 May 2022

Why?  Not everybody lives in London and does 10 miles a day.

bol 25 May 2021

Good to see Audi making an electric car that is neither vast nor brick shaped. Looking forward to seeing how far they can come in a couple of years too.