Audi's biggest selling car, the A4, will be replaced in two years' time - and CAR's produced these new artist's impressions to show what the new Audi A4 will look like and update our existing intelligence on Ingolstadt's new compact exec. Codenamed B9, the new saloon arrives first in 2014, followed by the A4 Avant in early 2015 - and it'll be the first Audi to premiere the company's new electric Quattro drivetrain and not one, but two hybrid options.
So while the A4 still looks recognisably like an Audi saloon (that is to say, exactly like a baby A6/junior A8), the technology underpinning the sober body is radically new. As ever under the VW firmament, there's a new acronym to describe the oily bits: the new MLBevo matrix.
New Audi A4 (2014): 100kg lighter
This new architecture is both lighter and more flexible, according to Ingolstadt high-ups contacted by CAR. Our sources suggest the new A4 will be around 100 kilos lighter than today's car, suggesting a kerbweight starting from 1330kg.
That'll be to the benefit of, well, everything really: performance, handling, economy and emissions will all benefit from the reduction in weight - and each of these are areas where improvement is required if Audi is to keep up with fast-moving rivals from BMW and Mercedes.
Audi A4 to premiere new e-quattro system
Audi plans to launch its first plug-in hybrid system on the new A4, and we can also expect to see the company's new e-quattro system, which drops the mechanical diffs and propshafts required for today's Q cars in favour of an electrically driven rear axle. It adds two e-motors delivering a combined 136bhp to power the rear wheels.
In principle it's rather like the PSA Peugeot Citroen Hybrid4 system, enabling 20 miles of silent e-running around town in rear-wheel drive mode or both powerpacks for autobahn hoofing. Just think; they'll even be able to dial out the understeer that continues to plague FWD Audis with an electric torque vectoring magic wand.
There'll be a conventional front-wheel drive plug-in hybrid options too. The B9 PHEV marries a 226bhp 2.0-litre petrol engine and a 35bhp electric motor integrated in the transmission housing.
Audi A4 (B9): petrols and diesels galore too
As far as conventional drivetrains go, highlights for the new A4 include a more potent 225bhp 2.0-litre petrol-fed four and the long overdue high-end 2.0-litre TDI rated at 197bhp and 295lb ft. The Multitronic transmission disappears for good and all engines meet the new EU6 regs.
Audi is desperate to shed its 'nearly' reputation as a driver's car and the new MLBevo components set is designed to improve the dynamics of the A4. As well as being lighter and more flexible, it's said to be significantly stronger and stiffer which gives the chassis tuners more leeway.
The same underpinnings will be used for the future A5 coupe, Sportback and cabriolet earmarked for roll-out throughout 2014 and 2016. And the A4 family will swell further: a new type of roomier, flexible estate car/MPV is in the works for launch in 2016. No name yet, but conceptually it's a Superavant, inspired by concepts such as the Avantissimo and Roadjet.