► New 2016 Audi A4 revealed
► Saloon, Avant shown, others follow
► Fifth-generation A4 on sale autumn 2015
► Priced from £25,900 in the UK
Don't retune your sets. This is the new 2016 Audi A4, shown ahead of its formal world debut at the Frankfurt motor show this autumn. Both saloon and Avant wagon bodystyles have been revealed, while other variants - including the A4 Allroad and A5 two-door siblings - will follow. Prices start a whisker below £26,000 in the UK.
Fuel-saving and low CO2 are the chief targets of the new model, explaining the inclusion of a 1.4-litre petorl engine, super-low 0.23 drag coefficient and cleanest model's 95g/km emissions rating. That same-again-but-slipperier shape is impressively low-drag and this should make for quiet cruising at motorway speeds; the wagon is slightly less aero-efficient, with a figure of 0.26.
And, as is the fashion for new-generation German execs (see 7-series etc), the new 2016 A4 uses a multi-material construction method to pare back the weight; the new A4 is as much as 120kg lighter than its predecessor, thanks to extra aluminium used especially around the front end.
The range kicks off from £25,900 in the UK, with orders open from September 10. That lands the A4 squarely in the centre of the compact exec saloon bunfight: at the time of writing the BMW 3-series starts from £24,975, the Jaguar XE from £26,990 and the Mercedes C-class from £27,665.
There are three trim levels: entry-level SE, middling Sport and top-of-the-tree S line. All models regardless of trim get plenty of equipment to show off, with 17-inch alloys, xenon headlights, three-zone climate control and a 7in colour screen standard. Priciest of the new A4 variants from launch is the Avant 3.0 V6 TDI Quattro, with estate body, four-wheel drive and eight-speed auto gearbox.
New Audi A4: the design
This is clearly an evolutionary design, with a conservative flavour that'll scare away precisely no company car buyers in the UK or customers in Europe, America or China, Audi hopes. They've deliberately kept the style in keeping with the Audi saloon vibe, outside at least. Is this enough though, in an age where Mercedes is making its execs more edgy and where Jaguar is now hoping to hoover up some of the cautious brigade?
Inside the new A4 lies a more revolutionary cockpit, with the adaptive 12.3in LCD digital screen seen in the latest Audi TT. It's entirely configurable, letting the sat-nav gobble up the entire read-out or conventional dials, with many grades in between. This is the TT's party trick and it's one that no compact exec rival can match.
Note, however, that the A4 adds an extra centre screen, so the other passengers don't feel left out. All sorts of extra gadgets including handwriting technology, LED headlamps, contactless phone recharging and more natural speech recognition are available. Active cruise control will even take over in stop-start motorway traffic jams - this car is semi-autonomous, alright.
The new A4 is a shade bigger than its predecessor, at 4726mm long and rolling on a 2820mm wheelbase for extra interior room. It's based on the latest iteration of Audi's MLB architecture, which Audi engineers tell CAR should make it better to drive. They've even done UK-specific tuning to make sure that our beloved big wheels and S Line trim won't crash and thump over every potholed B-road here.
The A4 Avant: bigger boot, more practical touches
Boostpace in the new Audi A4 Avant climbs by a handbag or two to 505 litres with the rear seats up, 1510 with them flopped forwards. Electric operation of the boot and load cover is standard.
That load capacity beats the seats-up luggage space of a C-class or 3-series Touring. Useful to know for those planning a family purchase.
Audi A4 engines, specs
Seven engines will be available on the new saloon and Avant from launch, three petrols and four diesels:
- 1.4 TFSI petrol 148bhp, 0-62mph 8.9sec, 131mph, 57.7mpg, 114g/km CO2
- 2.0 TFSI petrol 187bhp, 0-62mph 7.3sec, 149mph, 58.8mpg, 114g/km CO2
- 2.0 TFSI petrol 248bhp, 0-62mph 5.8sec, 155mph, 49.6mpg, 129g/km CO2
- 2.0 TDI diesel 148bhp, 0-62mph 8.6sec, 136mph, 74.3mpg, 99g/km CO2
- 2.0 TDI diesel 187bhp, 0-62mph 7.7sec, 147mph, 68.9mpg, 107g/km CO2
- 3.0 TDI diesel 218bhp, final figures tbc
- 3.0 TDI diesel 272bhp, final figures tbc
A six-speed manual is standard-fit, with the option of a seven-gear
S-tronic on some models, including a freewheel coasting option to save fuel by disengaging the drive. Front-wheel drive is the baseline, but Quattro is naturally available on many models (now with the Sport differential on the rear axle as an option).
Will it be any good to drive? The last A4 was subtly honed over the years to become quite a polished package, but the model was always out-pointed by the C-class and 3-series. The newcomer has five-point multi-link rear suspension, optional adaptive dampers and new electric power steering to boost the fun quotient, according to the engineers. The bodyshell is lighter and stiffer, too, giving them a fighting chance and torque vectoring is available to tug the car into corners more effectively.
The new Ultra model is the eco hero, with CO2 emissions plunging to just 95g/km thanks to a flat undertray and active cooling vents which close off when the engine needs no extra ventilation.