The new Audi A4 saloon will go on sale in 2014, and
as well as getting a radical new look .The new car will be much lighter and
more efficient than at present, and finally take the fight to the BMW 3 Series
as a genuine driver’s car.
Alexander Pesch, head of technical project management
for Audi, told us: “The next A4 will move the game on. The jump from today’s
car in terms of design and efficiency will be really big.”
Slimmer headlights and larger air intakes will sit
either side of a much sharper, six-sided grille. It’s a toned-down version of
the three-dimensional front end seen on the Crosslane Coupe Concept at the 2012
Paris Motor Show.
Elsewhere, there are sharp creases, distinctive LED
light clusters and similar proportions to the current model. Key to the new
A4’s improved fuel efficiency and more agile handling will be a weight saving
of around 100kg. This is possible because the car will be based on the VW
Group’s advanced MLB platform (bigger brother of the MQB set-up used by the new
A3 and VW Golf), which will underpin everything from the A4 to the new VW
Touareg in 2016.
As with MQB, MLB will be made from strong hot-formed
steels, allowing thinner chassis components to be used – and reducing weight
dramatically. It will also enable Audi to adopt a variety of materials, so
high-spec models could use aluminium or carbon fibre to cut weight further.
As for engines, there’ll be big steps forward in
hybrid tech, with two petrol-electric A4s likely. First up is a development of
the A3 e-tron’s front-wheel-drive plug-in system, teaming a 2.0-litre petrol
engine with an electric motor integrated into the DSG box.
The other hybrid is a more potent e-quattro system,
with a petrol engine up front and two powerful electric motors on the rear
axle, giving a different take on Audi’s trademark quattro 4WD.
The S4 will feature a reworked version of the current
turbo V6, with around 350bhp, while the flagship RS4 Avant could ditch its
4.2-litre V8 in favour of a smaller turbo V6 offering almost 500bhp. More
powerful but less thirsty 1.8 TFSI and 2.0 TFSI petrol engines, plus 2.0 TDI
diesels, will again make up the lion’s share of sales.