Once bitten, twice shy? We talked up the ‘new’ platform for the current Audi A4
before launch, and it turned out to be nothing special. Yet if the much newer A3
is anything to go by, Audi is more than capable of sharpening up its offerings, which gives up hope for the 2014 A4 saloon.
The new front-drive A4, codenamed ‘B9’, faces acclaimed dynamic benchmarks in the rear-drive BMW 3-series
and the new Mercedes C-class
(arriving in spring 2014), which both carry more aluminium for less weight despite growing in size over their predecessors.
Long-time aluminium specialist Audi is gearing up the new A4 by placing it on a 100kg diet, while having its core stiffened up to provide a base that the engineers can tune for sharper handling and a smoother ride – both major flaws in the A4’s skillset when put up against its opposition.
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The four-cylinder 2.0-litre TDI, with a choice of 105bhp, 180bhp or 200bhp outputs, will be the core engine, with the 1.8- and 2.0-litre petrols also putting in a shift. Like its German counterparts, Audi will offer a hybrid drivetrain as seen in the A3 E-tron. For the A4, it produces 226bhp from the 2.0-litre petrol four-pot, which teams with a 35bhp electric motor.
The spiciest drivetrain development, though, is an E-Quattro system, which will ditch the diffs and propshafts for electric motors spinning the back axle, a la Peugeot’s hybrid system. That should also save weight, improve dynamics…
If Audi fails to properly sharpen the A4, get set for a raft of disappointing models, as its platform will form the basis of the A5, Sportback and Cabriolet ranges which will filter through between now and 2016, as well as a new MPV variant. Get it right and Audi – which is on course for yet another record sales year in the UK – will have even more to crow about. Watch this space.
>> Is Audi capable of making the A4 a BMW and Mercedes-beater? Tell us your thoughts below