The Audi A4 has not only been one of the brightest jewels in Audi’s crown for decades, it’s one of the most important models in the entire Volkswagen Group stable. It’s the mass-market luxury stalwart that offers the four rings at a reasonable entry point, while providing buyers a steadfast alternative to BMW and Mercedes in an array of trims and formats. And it just got a make-over for 2016.
At first glance, it’s not evident that a whole lot has changed. The profile of the car is very similar to generations past, and looking beyond the updated grille and headlights, there doesn’t seem to have been much done in the way of alterations. It is, still, unmistakably an A4, but like most new arrivals, there’s more than meets the eye.
The new car — subject to options and trim level — sheds over 260 pounds versus its predecessor, despite being larger than the outgoing model. The diet is hidden by the refreshed, but restrained styling — it’s certainly a logical evolution of the A4 design language, but it fails to make a statement by sticking so close to the outgoing car. That being said, there wasn’t a whole lot they had to do — it was already a very good-looking vehicle.
The new A4 takes more cues from the gorgeous Avant sedan concept that debuted at the Los Angeles Auto Show in November last year, especially in the streamlined, upscale cabin. There’s a new steering wheel, the MMI controls have been tweaked and refitted, and overall, the cockpit has more in common with the design found in the flagship A8, than most other entry-level sedans on the market.
For now, details are scant about engines, pricing, and availability. It’s unclear as to whether the Avant version (read: wagon) will come Stateside, though based on the success of VW’s Golf Sportwagen, Audi brass might be reconsidering bringing its wagon-ified A4 to us. As far as engines go, Audi said that there will be three gasoline and four diesel engines available in Europe, though it’s still uncertain as to which will make it over the pond.
Chances are Autoblog’s assessment will prove correct — that we’ll continue to get the turbocharged 272 horsepower TSFI inline four, and the 2.0 liter TDI diesel engine that we already enjoy in a variety of other Volkswagen products. Front- and all-wheel drive will be available, and Autoblog points out that for the first time, two-wheel-drive models will get a proper dual-clutch transmission, meaning no more CVT.
Following the A4’s initial re-introduction, we can look forward to a redesigned S4, and maybe, hopefully, a renewed commitment to the RS4 that’s been missing from the American market for years now. With America getting it’s luxury game back on track, it might be wise of Audi to get its footholds in ahead of the Cadillac ATS-V and others.
Overall, the new A4 will do well. Like the new Mercedes C-Class, it follows that growing luxury industry trend where a premium appearance for entry-level vehicles means restraint and subtlety, rather than bells and whistles. There’s perhaps no great example of this than the new Volvo XC90, with looks that punch far beyond its price tag, even though there’s little that’s revolutionary about the design (we’re not ashamed to say that it’s probably one of the best-looking SUVs, ever). With an elegant and sleek design, the tastefully evolved A4 nestles into that same niche, and will bring its brand of restrained elegance to the masses later this year.