After the debut of a new battery-electric SUV with a 300-mile range, you might expect the new Audi A4 to get lost in the shuffle at the annual Frankfurt Motor Show, especially with the new sedan opting for mostly subtle, evolutionary changes rather than the revolutionary updates of generations past.
Nonetheless, the fifth-generation A4 is generating plenty of enthusiasm as Audi expects it to deliver some notable improvements in fuel economy. Lower emissions and higher mileage were two of the key targets for the 2016 Audi A4. Audi claims best-in-class aerodynamics help it get there.
The new compact model also gets a lot of new technologies, some lifted from the top-line Audi A8, others entirely new to the Audi brand.
The 2016 Audi A4 migrates to the new MQB platform that’s also used as the foundation for the sibling Volkswagen Golf and a growing array of products from Volkswagen AG. The upscale sedan – and other body style variants to follow – makes extensive use of aluminum and other lightweight materials to trim off more than 260 pounds of mass compared to the previous model.
The exterior maintains the basic Audi sedan shape, the nose distinguished by the brand’s familiar, singleframe grille. The A4’s LED headlights take on a more angular shape, with a sharp rake to the trademark LED running lights.
Inside, things get a bit more radical reworking, however. For one thing, there’s a new, 12.3-inch reconfigurable LCD screen in the place of conventional gauges. It can be tweaked to display a virtual speedo and tach, or to let navigation take over the display entirely, for example.
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There’s a more traditional touchscreen display atop the center stack, and it can be controlled not only from the latest version of Audi’s MMI controller, but by using gestures or handwriting right onto the screen. Audi claims the updated voice control system also can recognize more natural speed.
The cabin is ever so slightly larger, as is the overall length and wheelbase of the new A4, virtually all of that going to passenger space.
The A4 gets not only active cruise control, but also the ability to come to a virtual stop in heavy traffic and then start up again.
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A variety of engine options will be available for the 2016 Audi A4, depending on market, all the way up to a 272-horsepower TDI diesel. The maker claims some of those diesel packages will get up to around 63 mpg in U.S. ratings.
The new 190-hp 2.0-liter TFSI inline-four gas engine is said to use, “a groundbreaking innovation for gas engines,” a new combustion system Audi says will achieve 49 US mpg in the sedan. The Avant wagon will reach 47 mpg.
Depending, again, on market, Audi will offer a six-speed manual, a seven-speed Tiptronic, and an eight-speed Tiptronic transmission. The automatics have a new freewheeling function to reduce fuel consumption while coasting.
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The new A4 sedan and A4 Avant wagon will go on sale in the coming weeks in Europe. The U.S. version will follow next year.