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New Audi A4 goes higher-tech

Technical German: The Audi A4 is packed with high-tech features and will go on sale in February.

Audi’s B9 A4 has lots of tech to battle the big guns from Benz and BMW

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Audi logo3 Dec 2015

By IAN PORTER

AUDI has significantly stepped up the safety and comfort tech offerings for its new-generation A4 mid-sizer, while maintaining the same entry price as the model it replaces.

The range has been simplified, with only four different drivetrains available following the decision to no longer offer the manual gearbox. Instead all four variants will come with the seven-speed S tronic dual-clutch automatic transmission.

From launch, the A4 sedan will be available in four variants, starting with the 110kW 1.4 TFSI from $55,500, plus on-road costs, the 140kW 2.0 TFSI from $60,900, the 2.0 TDI quattro at $66,900 and the 185kW 2.0 TFSI starting at $69,900.

While the 2.0 litre TFSI engine is new and more efficient compared with the outgoing model, it has been completely overshadowed by the plethora of new computer-based technology that will be available on the A4.

Audi says about 90 per cent of all innovation in modern vehicles is related to electronics, and the A4 is a prime example.

Buyers of the new Audi A4 will be able to move one step close to autonomous driving with an optional system called Traffic Jam Assist that allows the car to creep in traffic jams without driver intervention.

In addition, they will be able to specify the Matrix beam LED headlights, so far only available on the top-of-the-line A8 limousine.

But the eye-catcher for many drivers and passengers, particularly in inner-city areas, will be the Exit Warning system that promises to avoid “dooring” incidents that have led to the deaths of several cyclists in recent years.

The Matrix beam headlights and Traffic Jam Assist options will top an impressive array of new technology that will be available on the new B9 when it is released next February, although buyers will have to pay a bit more for them as they will both be optional extras.

The A4 will come fitted with an extensive array of radar, ultrasonic and camera sensors, and these have been used to build a variety of safety and convenience applications, with many of them standard equipment across the range.

To get Traffic Jam Assist, buyers will have to opt for the Assistance package if they want to experience low-speed autonomous driving.

The Traffic Jam Assist function uses the adaptive cruise control and lane sensing to drive the A4 in traffic jams. It can “see” up to 60 metres ahead and will actively steer the car at speeds up to 65km/h.

It works in conjunction with the Active Lane Assist function, so the car stays in the correct lane and the driver can program in the distance they want to stay behind the car in front.

The Assistance package also includes collision avoidance, which helps turn the steering wheel, and predictive efficiency assist, which uses sat-nav maps and topographical information to moderate engine effort when the crest of a hill is near.

While adaptive LED headlights are standard, the optional Matrix beam LED system offers flexibility across a range of driving situations, according to Audi.

It is set to run on high beam all the time, with the software deciding when it is appropriate to switch to low beam around town.

The headlights are made up of dozens of LEDs arranged in eight sets, creating a beam made up of eight segments, each of which can be dimmed separately.

When a vehicle is approaching on a country road, those LEDs shining directly at the oncoming vehicle will be dimmed. As the vehicle gets closer, the next segment of LEDs will dim and the original segment will switch back to full beam.

Similarly, the headlights will dim as the Audi approaches the rear of a car in front. Segments will also dim when the system recognises a traffic warning sign on the side of the road, preventing the flare of reflected light from the sign that can make it more difficult to see ahead.

The system also recognises people and animals by the side of the road and keeps them illuminated, as well as being able to illuminate the road to the side of the vehicle when turning a corner.

The extensive list of standard driver assistance systems includes autonomous emergency braking at up to 85km/h, cross-traffic assist when reversing, pre-sense basic which prepares the cabin if a collision is imminent and pre-sense rear which flashes the brakes lights as a warning to following vehicles.

This standard package also includes Exit Warning, which can detect bicycles and vehicles up to 80 metres away and when a door handle is pulled a red warning light will flash on a rear door, while front seat passengers get the light on the door and a light on the rear vision mirror stem.

Importantly, the Exit Warning system stays on for 180 seconds after the ignition is turned off, giving time for the driver and/or passengers to exit the car without rushing.

In the cockpit, all A4s will come with MMI (Multi-Media Interface) Navigation on a central 8.2-iinch screen, plus MMI touch, which is a mouse pad on top of the central controller on the console, a DVD player, 10mb of music storage and a new smartphone interface that incorporates Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

The optional Technik package ($2100) will bring the virtual cockpit first seen on the Audi TT, a fully digital instrument panel that can display normal instruments or a sat-nav map between a simulated speedo and tacho, plus a head-up display above the dashboard.

There is also a premium Bang and Olufsen audio system available ($2600 on the base model, $1950 on the higher-spec version) that brings 755 watts and 19 speakers in all.

2016 Audi A4 pricing*
1.4 TFSI (a)$55,500
2.0 TFSI (a)$60,900
2.0 TDI quattro (a)$66,900
2.0 TFSI (a)$69,900
*Excludes on-road costs

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