Friday, 28 October 2011 11:20 AM
The current, eighth generation Audi A4 has been cruising our city streets since 2008 and with new competition cars from its German stablemates, now is probably a good time to refresh the A4 inside, outside and under the hood, with emphasis on ever-crucial improved eco-efficiencies; around 11 per cent better across the range. And here it is in saloon, Avant (estate), Allroad quattro (tougher estate) and the understatedly snorty 328bhp S4.
On the outside the styling changes are suitably Audi-subtle with more of an arch in the hood, some front grille revisions in style and colours and a gentle redesign to the front bumper with more angular air inlets and flat front fog lights.
Key to a car’s personality these days are the headlights and Audi’s total-10-million-seller now gets refreshed headlight interiors with a slight, continuous-LED-line wave along the bottom edges. Xenon plus headlights are available as optional equipment or standard on S line models, while adaptive light, together with dynamic and static cornering lights, are available as options.
The new taillights mimic the shape of the new headlights, again with must-have LED highlight strips, and below them is a redesigned rear bumper and diffuser and a new exhaust system that always gets sporty twin tailpipes on every model.
Along with the new interior look for the A4 range, Audi have also been working on the general ease of use of things with revisions to the control functions of the A4’s many information, entertainment and comfort systems.
New steering wheels with chrome and high-gloss inlays and a leather sport steering wheel featuring a flattened lower rim catch the eye, while the MMI navigation plus system now features four instead of eight buttons. Other usability improvements concern the operation of the automatic transmission, the air conditioning, Audi drive select and the multifunction steering wheels. The seat heating and air conditioning are now directly operated at the respective buttons.
All A4’s interior colours – except black – have been re-coordinated, with the upholstery range revised with Fine Nappa leather replacing Valcona leather and new inlays of Aluminium Trigon, walnut dark brown, fine grain ash natural and Beaufort oak plywood available.
For the more style-conscious A4 driver, the S line sport package comes with a dramatic black interior, 18-inch alloy wheels, or the optional 19-inch wheels, and Sport suspension that lowers the body by a hunkering 20mm.
The A4 saloon’s luggage compartment still has its 480-litre capacity – 962 litres with the rear seats folded down. The A4 Avant and the A4 allroad quattro have 490 and 1,430 litres, respectively, with Audi offering an optional electrically-operated tailgate for both models.
So, we’ve heard about the average 11 per cent drop in fuel consumption across the engine range, despite some of the tweaked motors getting more power and torque, and all engines - five diesel and four petrol - are supercharged direct-injection systems with start-stop system and the recuperation system standard.
The 4-cylinder, 2-litre TDI engine is put to the best use in the new A4 with variations in turbo-boost-pressure delivering five performance levels; 118bhp, 134bhp, 141bhp, 161bhp and 175bhp. A new centrifugal pendulum-type absorber (in the 2.0 TDI with 134bhp, 161bhp or 175bhp with quattro drive) in the dual-mass flywheel makes engine running more refined and quieter at low revs, resulting in earlier gear upshifting and better fuel efficiency.
The most economical variant in the model family is the 134bhp TDI which, in the saloon model, headlines with some impressive eco-figures of 67.3mpg on the combined cycle and CO2 at just 112g/km. That’s hatchback-beating eco-performance. The more punchy-sounding 161bhp TDI still delivers 64.2mpg and 115g/km of CO2.
Three V6 TDI units complete the A4 engine choices with the 202bhp 3.0 TDI - the most efficient 6-cylinder engine in its class - achieving 57.6mpg on the combined cycle. The high-boost 3.0 TDI variants thumps out a motorway-mile-munching 243bhp.
Turbocharged petrol engine fans will rejoice in the new 1.8-litre TFSI engine, available for the saloon and the Avant. The 4-cylinder engine delivers a meaningful 168bhp and 236lb ft of torque, with economy figures of 50.4mpg and 134g/km of CO2. That’s a headline efficiency improvement of 19 per cent compared with the predecessor engine. The new engine weighs 3.5kg less and its internal friction has sharply decreased.
The entry-level petrol engine is the 1.8 TFSI with 118bhp, while the 2.0 TFSI delivers 211bhp. At the top of the performance tree the 328bhp 3.0 TFSI mill found in the fastest S4.
A 6-speed manual gearbox is the standard option on the saloon and Avant A4s with front-wheel drive, while most variants can enjoy a continuously variable multitronic transmission as an option. The quattro cars have either the manual transmission or the 7-speed S tronic on board, and the Allroad quattro gets a manual transmission or S tronic with all engine types.
The new Audi A4 range will be in dealers in early 2012, with exact UK specifications to be announced shortly. Whilst as yet unconfirmed, prices for the new car are expected to be in the same region as the out-going model.
2012 Audi A4 saloon
2012 Audi A4 Avant (estate)
New LED styling features in the new lights; front and rear
New interiors are less button-cluttered with have new leather, trim and inlay finishes
The 2012 Audi A4 Allroad rides higher and with quattro four-wheel drive
By Daniel Anslow
Follow us @TotallyMotor