Friday, April 11, 2008

Fresh-faced A4

First official pictures of the new Audi A4 ahead of the Frankfurt show

The secret is out! These are the first official images of Audi’s new A4, which will make its world debut in two weeks’ time at the Frankfurt Motor Show.

It follows hot on the heels of the A5, and Audi pro­mises the newcomer is bigger, better and faster than its pre­decessor, as well as more stylish.

The German firm has also committed to keeping costs down, so while prices have yet to be revealed, entry-level cars should weigh in at less than £20,000 when the order books open in the second week of September. Equally impressive is the technical detail Audi has released ahead of the model’s unveiling, which should have Mercedes and BMW worried.

This is no simple facelift – the A4 has a new chassis to go with its fresh look. There are four revised trim levels, and five new engines. The fact that the newcomer rep-resents a radical departure is clear­est at the front, where a short overhang is emphasised by a longer bonnet and extended wheelbase.

Fresh headlamps, inspired by those on the A5, include LED daytime running lights, as well as optional xenon units for night driving. The rear tapers strongly inwards, while the exhaust pipes are straight, even on diesel-engined variants like the silver car in our pictures (below). Inside, the cabin borrows heavily from the A5, too, and can be specified with options such as Audi’s Drive Select, which enables owners to fine-tune steering, suspension and throttle response to their taste.

Thanks to the extensive use of new hi-tech steel, as well as aluminium, the A4’s bodyshell is even stronger than the previous model’s, yet weighs significantly less. Its sleek shape has a low drag coefficient of only 0.27Cd. This helps to improve economy and high-speed refinement.

Under the skin, the front axle has been moved forward by 154mm – that should mean improved steering res­ponse and agility. The suspension is completely new as well, and features a variety of components made from weight-saving aluminium.

From launch, buyers will be able to choose between five powerful new petrol and diesel engines, all of which use direct fuel injection. The entry-level A4 gets a 160bhp 1.8-litre TFSI petrol unit or a 143bhp 2.0-litre TDI diesel.

Flagship models come with a 3.2-litre V6 FSI petrol or a new 3.0-litre TDI. The latter has 240bhp and 500Nm of torque, and covers 0-60mph in 6.1 seconds – that’s a tenth of a second faster than the 255bhp petrol V6! The other engine in the line-up is a reworked 2.7-litre diesel with 190bhp. This shares much of its design with the 3.0-litre unit, but provides greater efficiency and less outright speed.

Audi’s quattro four-wheel drive is available on all cars, although it will be optional on 1.8, 2.0 and 2.7-litre variants. To complement this, drivers will be offered three gearbox options: a six-speed manual, a multitronic CVT and a new tiptronic automatic.

A host of innovations promise to help the Audi cover long-distance journeys with ease. These include adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist and an enhanced driver information system. It all adds up to a package sure to have compact executive rivals worried when the A4 hits the UK later this year.

1 comment:

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