With the new A3 on deck to become Audi’s entry-level model, their current near-luxury range – the A4 – is getting ready for a bit of internal competition. Now in the middle of its life cycle, the popular A4 sedan and Avant (and their high-performance S4 siblings) are receiving an unusually extensive revamp. Audi considers the changes substantial enough to warrant a change in the vehicle’s internal code: “B7” from the current model’s “B6” generation tag.
|Audi A4 Courtesy: Audi AG|
Mind you, this isn’t an entire generation change, as was the redesign from the widely popular “B5” A4 to the current “B6.” Still, the work done on the so-called “B7” is impressive. At first glance, entirely new front and rear ends work with revised effects on the body side panels to bring the A4 more in line with the direction Audi is taking with new models like the A3 and redesigned A6. Most importantly, and equally controversial, is the Audi “Shield” grille – which some describe as aggressive while others liken it to a wide-mouth bass. Wherever you may fall, it is hard to disagree that the design is one of the more unique treatments given to a full line of luxury-brand vehicles in quite some time. The unique headlights house “xenon plus” technology with adaptive lighting that helps guide your way even in mid-turn.
The interior is essentially the same as before, which is to say, very cleanly designed and trimmed to some of the highest standards in the industry. There are new steering wheel designs that incorporate the “Shield” theme of the vehicle’s grille, and a new instrument panel-mounted navigation system should help the A4 compete on a better footing with some of its newer competition – though it’s still not up to the Acura TL’s 8-inch LCD-screen standards. It also appears Audi is going back to standard aluminum trim inlays; something that was lost not long after the B6 generation was launched.
|Audi A4 Courtesy: Audi AG|
The biggest news comes in the way of engine refinements. Admittedly, the heavy B6 generation has been outgunned lately by such hot new competitors as the Infiniti G35, Acura TL, and even Cadillac CTS, not to mention the ever-speedy BMW 3-Series. The 1.8T and 3.0 V6 simply didn’t have what it takes to move the porky A4, especially when saddled with quattro all wheel drive. The company’s new 2.0 liter direct injection turbocharged 4-cylinder engine will go a long way towards improving things, with its 200hp and 207ft-lbs of torque. Most importantly, a new 3.2L V6 delivers a stout 255hp and should stop the A4 from eating most of its competitors’ dust, at least somewhat. The engines will be mated to your choice of a 6-speed manual or a new 6-speed tiptronic auto. Of course, if speed is your ultimate desire, the 344hp V8-powered S4 should provide your fix.
Suspension settings have also been recalibrated to provide the A4 with stronger handling agility. For example, the front and rear shock absorbers have been sourced from the A6. The rear trapezoidal links and wheel carriers as well as the front track rods come from the aggressively tuned S4.
|(LtoR)Audi A4 Avant, Sedan, S4 Courtesy: Audi AG|
Word is that as the A3 and revised A4 go on sale, buyers can expect the A4 to make a bit of room for its new little brother on the family pricing charts. We don’t yet have an idea just how much more the A4 will cost. Hopefully the new “B7” will have enough changes to warrant the rumored inflated price tag.