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Fuel issues threaten Audi eco A4 models

Flex appeal: Modular platform devised for the new A4 will underpin a host of new model derivatives.

Audi’s A4 platform to spawn new models, but Aussie fuel quality could rule out TDIe

8 Apr 2008

AUDI will explore a number of A4 derivatives as it seeks to shrink the sales gap between its compact luxury range and the Mercedes-Benz C-class and BMW 3 Series – but has signalled that fuel quality issues could limit the prospects of new-generation green diesel engines being launched in Australia.

At one end of the scale will be the expected S and RS performance models, while more fuel-efficient cars with an environmental slant dominate the other side.

The all-new B8-series A4 to be released next month will offer two bodystyles, three diesel and three petrol engines in both four-cylinder and V6 configurations, and the choice of front-wheel drive and quattro 4WD by the end of this year.

A V8-powered S4 version is expected in 2009, with the BMW M3-rivalling RS4 flagship to follow. A 2010 international launch is likely, with Australian customers in line by about 2011.

But achieving low emissions is of higher importance to both consumers and car companies facing increasingly punitive taxation and legislation, so a 2.0 TDIe powerplant is also under consideration for Australia.

Over the new 2.0 TDI sedan and Avant, the TDIe version has a number of engineering modifications, such as stop/start technology, to achieve 4.9L/100km (down from 5.8L/100km) and 129g/km of CO2 (down 154g/km).

Aiding these figures are aerodynamic modifications to the ride height, alloy wheels and bootlid.

7 center imageLeft: Technical diagrams illustrate chassis and drivetrain (top) and engine and suspension (bottom).

However, the TDIe’s case in Australia will ultimately depend on the availability of high-quality diesel fuel, according to Audi Australia managing director Joerg Hofmann.

“We are investigating at the moment whether we can bring it to Australia … but we have not decided yet,” Mr Hofmann told GoAuto last week. “The fuel quality is an issue, and we may not be able to bring the latest technology clean diesel here in Australia.

“Which is a shame, as I believe every market should have the best technology available.”

Nevertheless, Audi will release the “cleanest diesel in the world” in October, with the $89,500 A4 3.0 TDI quattro. Besides offering 176kW of power and 500Nm of torque, it also returns 6.9L/100km and 183g/km, with a fraction of the nitric oxide pollution normally associated with V6 diesel powerplants helping the 3.0 TDI meet 2014 European emissions requirements.

Further down the track from now, the new A4 is likely to receive a hybrid powertrain, as it has been engineered from the beginning to accept one.

Audi revealed its parallel hybrid system at the Frankfurt motor show last September. It uses an adaptation of the 2.0-litre TFSI four-cylinder petrol engine to deliver 155kW and 300Nm, while an electric powerplant – described as “a permanently excited synchronous motor – kicks in another 32kW, with peak torque of 230Nm available “virtually from standstill” according to Audi.

This is possible in the A4 because Audi’s hybrid system is built on its latest Modular Longitudinal Platform (MLP).

First unveiled in the A5 coupe last year, it features, among other things, a front axle that is pushed significantly more forward than in previous Audi types, making room for the drivetrain to be mounted slightly more rearwards in the name of greater space utilisation and adaptation, as well as weight distribution.

MLP will also be employed under a number of different sized Audis as well. This reveals the flexible nature of the MLP hardware, as the company strives to create synergies that it can spread throughout its varied model range.

Later this year Audi will finally unveil its long-awaited answer to the BMW X3 and Land Rover Freelander II. Known as the Q5 crossover, the compact SUV will feature a completely new body and interior, but will feature the pick of the new A4’s engine and gearbox options – most likely the TFSI and TDI four-cylinder units.

Speculation is rife that MLP can be stretched to include the next-generation A6 due in 2010 as well as its Mercedes-Benz CLS-style four-door coupe derivative known as the A7 due around the same time, along with the D4 A8 luxury flagship sedan expected not long after that.

With 8.5 million cars and counting since the A4’s direct predecessor – the B1-series 80 range – was released in 1972, the series Audi’s biggest seller both here and globally, making up 41 per cent of the company’s worldwide volume. Last year, 63,469 were produced.

Audi’s stated volume goal for the A4 is 3500 units this year and 4000 in 2009. These are up from the 2007 results, when 2242 A4s were sold, compared to 5795 BMW 3 Series and 4232 C-class models.

“This is close to competitor levels,” Mr Hofmann said. “It is the basis for our growth.”
Audi A4/MLP spawn timeline:
B8 A4 range From May 2008
Q5 SUV First half 2009
B8 A4 TDIe 2009
B8 S4 2009
C7 A7 four-door ‘coupe’ 2010
B8 RS4 2011
B8 A4 Hybrid 2011
C7 A6 2011

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