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Yes, this is the all-new Audi A4. No, really. It is
Anoraks on as Audi launches its brand new motorway-muncher. It’s more about the tech than the looks
Is there a carmaker with a firmer belief in “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” design school than Audi?
We ask because this is the new Audi A4. Not a light facelift, with a sharpened headlight here and a cleaner diesel engine there. Nope, it’s an all-new car.
If you think Audi’s forgotten to actually design a new car, such design conservatism is surely a response to just how many of the outgoing A4s fill motorways up and down the land.
Messing with a winning formula is a risky strategy, of course, but we can’t help thinking that Alfa Giulia suddenly looks even more exciting, no?
So beyond a very, very subtly sharpened exterior – the A4’s a smidge longer and wider than before, more aerodynamic than anything else in class, and there are matrix LED headlights with 64 stages of light – what is there to get excited about?
Fewer kilograms, for starters. It may be bigger than before, but the A4 is up to 120kg skinnier, helped largely by clever construction and much aluminium.
There’s heaps of technology too, a lot of it sounding like a stepping-stone to autonomous driving. The cruise control can accelerate, brake and keep a fixed distance from the car in front during rolling traffic, at speeds of up to 155mph. Yep, auto driving at 155mph.
The A4 can keep itself in lane, park itself, and even use the satnav in conjunction with the cruise control to increase efficiency by adapting its speed to upcoming road topography or traffic. Be afraid, people.
The virtual cockpit layout that looks so swish in the Audi TT makes its way to upper-spec A4s, and somewhat less selfishly, there’s a screen in the middle of the dashboard allowing the front passenger to operate the satnav and choose music, too.
Other options include a head-up display, a 19-speaker Bang & Olufsen 3D sound system, and tablets to entertain those sat in the back.
A little lost among the onslaught of new technology is talk of engines. There are three petrols and four diesels offering up to 272bhp, though most A4 buyers will go for the 2.0-litre turbodiesel. It comes in 148bhp and 187bhp tunes, the former slipping under 100g/km of CO2 and the latter bordering on hot hatch-brisk with a 7.7-second 0-62mph time.
Those who want to grab their A4 by the scruff of its neck will be pleased to know more powerful Quattro versions get the option of a proper differential for the rear axle, while there are various suspension options to choose from.
The A4 launches with its Avant estate version, while there will no doubt be Allroad, S4 and RS4 versions in the not-too-distant future.
If you like your Audis, we’ll wager you like this. But what about the fence-sitters? Can it create even a fraction of the excitement of that Alfa?