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First look: Tech-heavy Audi A4 breaks cover

Miller time: Audi has reintroduced a version of a largely dormant engine tech into its successful 2.0-litre petrol four-potter, known as the Miller cycle.

Audi pulls out all the stops to reduce weight, economy in all-new B9 A4 range


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29 Jun 2015

AUDI has unveiled its new B9 A4 mid-sized contender in Germany overnight, with a raft of new technologies underpinning what appears to be a relatively subtle design change from the outgoing B8.

Engines, chassis, suspension, aerodynamics, interior packaging and infotainment systems have all come in for a major overhaul, as Audi takes the fight for the premium sedan sector to a resurgent Mercedes-Benz C-Class, a refreshed BMW 3-Series and the incoming Jaguar XE.

It will also face off against the Lexus IS and the Infiniti Q50 for the hearts and wallets of exec-tech buyers.

According to Audi Australia senior product communications executive Shaun Cleary the A4 is set to arrive locally in 2016.

“We’re not being more specific at this stage (about timing),” he told GoAuto.

“We will announce engines, model line-up, spec and pricing closer to launch, but I can tell you that all engines are being considered.” At 4726mm long, the B9 A4 is 25mm longer than the B8, 16mm wider at 1842mm and exactly the same height at 1427mm. Its wheelbase is 15mm longer at 2820mm. The Avant almost exactly the same size.

The A4 is significantly lighter across the range, with the sedan losing up to 110kg and the wagon up to 120kg.

Xenon plus headlight units are standard equipment, while Audi will also offer LED as well as matrix LED headlights, depending on model grade. Dynamic-mode rear LED tail-lights with 48 LEDs per side are also fitted.

The bonnet also features a new pedestrian safety mode, with small pyrotechnic charges firing when an impact is detected, pushing the bonnet up to create a deeper crumple zone.

Aerodynamics around the A4 have also been significantly tweaked to give the car a drag coefficient figure of just 0.23. The engine compartment is sealed in from below, while two-stage radiator grilles close when engine temps are low to reduce drag, and open in stages depending on cooling requirements.

The body itself has also been significantly upgraded, with Audi engineers taking 15kg out of the basic structure via the adoption of more aluminium structural pieces, as well as redesigning elements such as the cast-aluminium front strut mounts. Seventeen per cent of the structure is built from hot-stamped high-strength steel for additional cabin integrity.

Improved door and window sealing, two-stage engine mounts and acoustic windscreens improve noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) levels, while front side acoustic glass is available as an option.

Chassis-wise, the B9 A4 has undergone a thorough makeover, with all-new five-link front and rear suspension, monotube dampers, a 3.5kg lighter electric steering set-up and a greater use of forged and cast aluminium parts throughout the suspension to save unsprung weight. The front axle, for example, is 5kg lighter than that on the B8.

A new central suspension control module has been added to the A4’s computer array, while hydraulic dampers isolate the body from the chassis.

Steel coil springs are now standard across the range, with the airbag options of the B8 no longer offered. Adjustable electromagnetic dampers can also be specified depending on the grade of car, offering a distinct two-stage mode for sportier driving. The ‘normal’ mode rides 10mm lower than a car equipped with single-stage dampers, while the Sport mode lowers the car a total of 27mm.

Audi’s quattro system is standard on variants with power outputs of more than 140kW, as is the company’s Drive Select System, which allows the driver to adjust the car’s throttle and gearbox maps, along with steering, suspension (where fitted) and even air-conditioning settings.

More weight savings were realised in the construction of the brake system, with the more powerful A4s now wearing lighter alloy brake callipers up front, saving 5kg in the process.

At market launch in Europe, the new Audi A4 and Avant will be available with a choice of three petrol and four diesel engines, delivering maximum power of between 110kW and 200kW. Compared with the previous model, their fuel consumption has been reduced by up to 21 per cent, while their power output has increased by up to 25 per cent.

The entry level petrol engine is the 1.4 TFSI, with 110kW and torque of 250Nm between 1500 and 3500rpm. In combination with the seven-speed S tronic automatic transmission, it accelerates the A4 sedan and wagon from zero to 100km/h in just 8.9 seconds and on to a top speed of 210km/h.

The 1.4 TFSI is rated at 4.9 litres per 100 kilometres on the New European Driving Cycle test, and has a CO2 output of 114 grams per kilometre. The alloy engine weighs just 100kg, and features a drive/auxiliary belt that is designed to last the life of the engine.

The 2.0 TFSI is available in two versions. In the high-end version, the 2.0 TFSI delivers 185kW and 370Nm of torque between 1600 and 4500rpm, giving it a 0-100km/h time of 5.8 seconds and an electronically limited top speed of 250km/h. In front-wheel drive and S tronic spec, it consumes 5.7L/100km and 129 grams of C02/km.

The second version of the 2.0 TFSI, the gasoline ultra model, delivers 140 kW and 320Nm of torque between 1450 and 4200rpm, netting 7.3 seconds from 0 to 100km/h and a top speed of 240km/h.

Thanks to some clever engineering, it consumes 4.8L/100km in sedan form and 5.0L/100km for the wagon equivalent, and burns 109 and 114 grams of C02 per kilometre respectively.

In essence, the revised version of the Volkswagen Group’s EA888 uses a shorter compression and longer expansion cylinder stroke that works best under partial load and off-throttle conditions.

While this system has been used before by companies like Mazda and known as a Miller cycle engine, Audi has designed the cylinder sequence to work in conjunction with forced induction, thereby negating the inherent disadvantages of the shorter compression (less power) stroke.

Thanks to the shorter compression stroke, less fuel need to be injected, while losses are reduced under closed-throttle conditions as well.

In terms of diesels, Audi will offer its 2.0-litre four-cylinder TDI engines in two versions. The first delivers 110kW and 320Nm of torque between 1500 and 3250rpm the second, meanwhile, offers up 140kW and 400Nm of torque between 1750 and 3000rpm.

Zero to 100 km/h for the entry level engine is 8.7 seconds and has a top speed of 219km/h the wagon is slightly slower at 9.0 seconds and 213km/h.

In combination with the six-speed manual gearbox, the Sedan and the Avant have fuel consumption figures of just 3.8 and 4.0 L/100km and emissions of 99 and 104 grams of CO2/km.

The more powerful diesel four-potter sedan will reel off 0 to 100km/h in 7.7 seconds with front-wheel drive and S tronic, and the wagon in 7.9 seconds. Top speeds are 237km/h and 231km/h respectively. Its fuel figure is 4.1L/100km, and its CO2 emission number is 107g Co2/km.

Audi has also announced that the two 2.0 TDI engines will also be available in ‘ultra’ versions. Audi claims that modifications to transmission ratios, bodywork and suspension, as well as the fitment of low-rolling resistance tyres, will lower fuel consumption figures to less than 4.0L/100km.

It says that the A4 ultra sedan with manual transmission and 110kW has an NEDC fuel consumption of 3.7L/100km and CO2 emissions of 95g/km, while the corresponding wagon version consumes 3.8L/100km and emits 99 g/km of CO2. “No competitor in the premium segment has better figures,” claims the company.

It has also indicated that another 2.0 TDI engine will be added after the market launch with a projected power output of 90kW.

Lastly, two six-cylinder TDI engines will be offered a 160kW and a 200kW version, with fuel numbers as low as 4.2L/100km.

The 160kW version of the three-litre six-pot diesel will produce 400Nm of torque from 1250 to 3750 rpm. The A4 Sedan and Avant with front-wheel drive are projected to have NEDC fuel consumption figures of just 4.2L/100km, equivalent to CO2 emissions of 110g/km these figures have yet to be confirmed, however.

Audi claims that these figures will make the TDI the world’s most efficient six-cylinder engine.

In the top-end version, the 3.0 TDI makes 200kW and 600Nm of torque between 1500 and 3000 rpm. It whips out the 0-100km/h sprint in 5.3 seconds and hits an electronically limited 250km/h top speed. It sips 4.9L/100km and it emits only 129g/km of CO2.

Audi will delete the unloved CVT gearbox from its range, offering in its place a heavily revised six-speed manual, along with a seven-speed DSG and eight-speed traditional automatic transmission.

The A4’s interior has also been thoroughly reworked. Shoulder width and head clearance for both driver and the front-seat passenger have increased by 11 and 24mm, interior length has grown by 17mm and rear legroom is 23mm greater.

Front and rear pews are completely new, as is the steering wheel, centre console and more. The seats reduce weight by 9kg, while new carpet and an alloy brake pedal save another 4kg.

Dominating the dash is Audi’s top-mounted MMI display. Mimicking a tablet computer in looks and dimensions, the permanently mounted screen is just 13mm thick. A more powerful computer controls the MMI system, adding greater functionality.

Safety systems, too, take a big leap forward with the A4. Camera-controlled pre-collision technology is standard across the range, which will stop the car from 40km/h and significantly slow it from 85km/h.

More sophisticated lane departure, rear-cross alerts and vastly uprated adaptive cruise control modes can be optioned across the range. A ‘traffic jam’ feature, for example, will allow the driver to leave the cruise control engaged, even in slow stop/start traffic situations.

A touring mode will also predict road conditions well ahead of the driver, combining with satellite navigation and GPS to forewarn about sharp bends and other tricky road conditions.

The A4 currently lies fourth in the prestige medium segment, recording 1185 sales to this point in 2015 – a 10 per cent lift over the same period in 2014. It sits fourth behind the Mercedes C-Class (3967), BMW 3-Series (1645) and the Mercedes-Benz CLA (1247).

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