2009 Audi A4: Frankfurt Motor Show Introduction
- October 31, 2007
- Audi, New Model Introductions
- Posted by George Peterson
- Comments Off on 2009 Audi A4: Frankfurt Motor Show Introduction
All-New A4 Arrives Stateside Fall 2008
Despite the European introduction in September 2007 at the Frankfurt motor show and sales in some markets by the end of the year, U.S. buyers won’t get to choose the latest A4 until about a year later (click for the European Audi A4 microsite). We can’t wait that long to share the first details with you, of course!
The new A4 takes the latest family look, introduced with the TT and A5, and does it well from headlights to small decklid spoiler. Whether xenon or halogen headlights are ordered, the shape of the headlight and the daytime running lights accents the car’s design in a new way. The wing running below the main light and supported by the line of daytime running lights adds character and design, instead of a complex “jewel-look” housing. It carries a fast rear roofline, though Audi promises good headroom for all passengers and easier ingress/egress thanks to wider-opening rear doors. The new A4 is about six inches longer than the current car, though it does not look so. Only about an inch wider, the new A4’s proportions hide the larger size. Even in person, it does not look much bigger than today’s sedan.
Audi’s 2009 A4 moves to a new layout, once called transmission forward. The transmission now sits basically next to the engine. Benefits include more space for better interior packaging and better driving dynamics, due to the car’s overall weight balance being closer to the optimal 50:50. The car also gets away with a shorter front overhang, even allowing for pedestrian and crash safety standards.
A4 Grows to be More Competitive
The size of the new A4 is almost that of the A6, shy an inch or two in each dimension, but close enough for us to conclude that the next generation A6 will be a substantially bigger car. German cars always seem to be a half size too small for the class in which they compete. With the increase in size for the A4, Audi brings their high volume mid-size car almost up to the package it requires.
The European powertrain lineup includes three diesel and two gasoline engines, but U.S. launch engines are expected to be the 265HP 3.2L normally aspirated FSI V6 and a 250HP turbocharged FSI I4. A six-speed automatic and manual are offered internationally, as well as Audi’s CVT, called Multitronic, for front-drive models.
The new fully independent suspension uses more aluminum and the braking system uses larger pads, discs, and a composite floating caliper system. Front suspension is a five-link tapering control arm arrangement, with the rear toe-controlled trapezoidal layout based on the A6 and A8. An optional sport suspension gets firmer springs and shock absorbers and lowers ride height by 20mm; the European S Line suspension is based on the sport setup with firmer dampers and lowered another 10mm. Quattro this time is biased toward the rear with a 40:60 split.
Audi claims immediate response and precise feedback from mounting the system low on the subframe, just below the front axle. A4 is also the launch product for Audi’s new dynamic steering system. The system varies effective steering ratio to road speed and, at the edges of the car’s limits, uses ESP to help stabilize the car. Dynamic steering is designed to help avoid oversteer and suppress understeer. A new optional drive select system allows choice between comfort, sport, and dynamic settings, as well as offering a version where the driver can set up his own profile.
The new A4 benefits from recently introduced features, though full details on U.S. availability is some time away. A version of the A8’s electromechanical parking brake will be standard, with hold assist optional. The parking brake incorporates a start-off and uphill assist, and allowed for a larger center console. From Q7, A4 adapts continuous damping control shock absorbers. The A4 will offer adaptive cornering headlights when xenons are specified, adaptive cruise control with a collision warning system, side assist, and lane assist. Three levels of parking assist are offered, though the A4 doesn’t park itself. Audi Parking Assist provides audible alerts, APS Plus provides audible and visual alerts, and APS advanced adds a rear-view camera. The improved ESP system adds trailer stablization, puts on hazard lights when panic braking, dries brakes in the wet, and compensates for brake fade.
The A4 offers a typically beautiful Audi driver-oriented interior, but not a cutting-edge infotainment package. Equipment levels will vary between the U.S. and Europe, where a lower-cost base model is needed. In Europe, a monochrome 6.5-inch display is standard and two navigation systems are offered, both using MMI. The base CD navigation system uses the 6.5-inch screen, while the uplevel DVD nav system takes a color seven-inch screen. Audi offers an iPod/MP3 player hookup and Bluetooth, but no hard-drive music storage or navigation system. Sound is delivered through optional Bang & Olufsen speakers, and HD radio is available. Audi’s standard key is called intelligent because it stores information for service, with a real leave-it-in-your-pocket smart key optional.
Audi Promises a Driver’s Car
Audi stressed the dynamic improvements of the new layout and other upgrades. While we don’t quite imagine it will be to the same driving dynamics as the BMW 3-Series, there is a strong case for the new A4 coming closer than front-drive-biased previous generations. And it is wrapped in a good-looking package. Audi has demonstrated the ability to apply their latest design philosophy successfully on a small two-door coupe and convertible (TT), large two-door coupe (S5/A5), and mid-size four-door sedan (A4) in the space of a year.