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Audi A4 PDF Print E-mail

Launched at the Paris Salon last September, industry insiders have acclaimed the new Audi A4 as "the best yet".  With more rounded lines and a squarer stance, it is almost as though the latest A4 has "grown up".

Audi A4
Audi A4

Following the success of the revised A8 and A6, Audi left the A4 to last to improve its appearance and the result is a stunning sedan that is more than a match for its Mercedes' and BMW rivals.  Although only marginally longer than its predecessor, the new car appears to be considerably larger, possibly due to the revamped front end and different bumpers.  There are two new versions on offer: the normal four-door sedan and the Avant station wagon which offers far more luggage space.  While the Avant is popular in Europe, for Asia it is the A4 sedan that will prove the best seller.

There are a number of engines available for the A4, including a direct injection 3.2 liter gasoline motor developing as very healthy 255 bhp (188 kW), but the most popular are always going to be the two-liter gasoline or diesel motors.  The former, featuring a lightweight aluminum block,  produces a respectable 130 bhp (96 kW), giving a top speed in excess of 210 km/h and a benchmark 100 km/h sprint time of a shade under 10 seconds.  The diesel gives similar performance but benefits from a huge increase in available torque: 320 Nm compared to a meager 195 Nm from the gas engine.

The diesel motor is fitted with a catalytic soot filter which is claimed to be 100 percent maintenance free.  All Audi's current engines meet the latest Euro IV emission standards.

There is a vast number of options available for the new Audi, including double glazing, run-flat tires and a cool box mounted in the glove box.  All models, however, feature individual air conditioning controls for the front passenger and driver.  Two-stage front airbags are fitted, as are side bags in the front seat-backs and there are full-length air curtains to protect from side impacts.

Also standard is the latest generation ESP (electronic stability program), brake assist and electronic brake distribution.  A useful feature is the trapezoidal, aluminum rear suspension which is both light and space-saving.  It does not intrude on trunk space yet gives almost perfect handling under most conditions.

Audi A4
Audi A4

Other variations occur with transmissions and in alternative markets a combination of four-wheel drive, six-speed manual or Tiptronic ‘boxes are available.  With the two liter power plants and front-wheel drive, a five speed manual gearbox is more likely, or the constantly variable multitronic auto transmission.

Safety is a prime consideration in any modern motor car and the A4 has been produced using a great deal of high-strength and very high-strength steel to absorb crash energy.  Although the new model has yet to be tested under the stringent European New Car Assessment Programme (Euro NCAP), the outgoing model scored a four-star rating, while the larger A6 which was tested last year scored the maximum five stars.  It is expected the new A4 will also achieve a high rating when it is tested later this year.

Audi has over the years reinvented itself, from a rather staid, second rank luxury car manufacturer to a solid performer within the giant Volkswagen group, Europe's largest auto maker.  While the top-of-the range A8 continues to impress and the executive A6 sedan is making huge inroads into underdeveloped markets such as mainland China, the A4 is still the mainstay of Audi's production.  The latest offering will surely cement its reputation as a builder of fine cars that are a little more interesting to drive than much of the opposition.

-JH

 
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© 2018 Jeff Heselwood. All rights reserved.
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