The 2016 Audi A4 Revealed

Here is the new (or revised?) Audi A4. Audi stresses the car’s athletic proportions which you’ll need a measuring tape to determine for yourselves.

2016 Audi A4: Audi
2016 Audi A4: Audi

The Avant is keeping its raked D-pillars to deter Volvo customers (or Skoda Superb customers). The vehicle is 4.73 metres long and has a 2.82 metre wheelbase. I will have to do a comparison later. The vehicle is a modest 15 kilos lighter, or about as much as a person can carry home by hand from the supermarket. Not much at all. Audi claim a cd of 0.23 which is the best in the class, with knock on benefits for interior peace.

2016 Audi A4 yellow rear
For the interior there’s Audi’s usual restrained good taste with new colours and materials. Everyone will still be going for grey and black, I am sure. The MMI has been redesigned to make it easier to use. And the rest of the press release on the subject was unremarkable.

2014 Audi A4 in that most typical of Audi colours: Audi
2014 Audi A4 in that most typical of Audi colours: Audi

Turning to engines: there are three TFSI  (all sing along now) and four TDI engines, ranging from 110 kW (150 hp) to 200 kW (272 hp) offering up to 25 percent more power though “up to” includes 0%. Fuel consumption can be reduced by up to 21 percent. If you are chasing low fuel consumption try the Audi A4 2.0 TDI ultra which gets through just 3.7 liters of diesel per 100 km (63.6 US mpg) and 95 grams of CO2 per kilometer (152.9 grams per mile). That will be a favourite among fleet buyers if not road-testers. Reading between the lines, as it were, the butch six-cylinder petrol units appear to have gone to rest with diesel carrying the V6 torch now.

Autoexpress have very kindly taken out all the brochures and done some Excel journalism to compare the Audi with its peers. You can read that here.

This bit stands out and I am glad they did the maths as a multiple-way comparison is especially tedious to do: “As is the norm in the compact executive class, the 2016 A4 has grown in size compared to the previous model. At 4,726mm, its 21mm longer than before, making it a whopping 102mm longer than the current 3 Series, 55mm longer than the XE and 40mm more than the C-Class. The boot, at 480 litres, is identical to both the 3 Series and the C-Class, and is 25 litres more than the XE.” Nice big boot then, and the XE’s is still competitive, you luggage loaders.

As far as I can see, this car is still in the standard Audi line of modest, incremental changes from model to model. Some will write it off as being boring but unlike the new BMW 7 it is not change for change’s sake.

I really don’t think the underlying architecture has changed and some panels seem identical. If they are not, it’s very a close similarity. Car magazine agrees.

Author: richard herriott

I like anchovies. I dislike post-war town planning.

28 thoughts on “The 2016 Audi A4 Revealed”

  1. Given the very modest weight difference between the “old” and “new” car this looks astonishingly like a thorough refresh and not a whole new car. The glass house is indistinguishable from the previous one. The giveaaway is the feature line running from the nose to the tail lamps. I bet it has the same profile as the outgoing car.

  2. Audis are so indistinguishable today, you can’t tell what’s different between old and new, you can’t tell if it’s an A3, A4 or A6 without measuring tape. A strong brand identity is a good thing, but by now it should be so strong as to allow the vehicles to develop some character of their own.

  3. I don’t know. I like VAG’s evolutionary design process, and I guess that it’s nice for someone who has, say, a 7 year old Audi not to drive around in something that looks outdated. But I agree that it would be dull if every manufacturer did the same.

  4. I don’t love it, but I do admire what Audi is doing, and in a strange definition of the word, I consider it quite brave. Such ultra-conservatism suggests a lot of profound confidence that the fundamental form, panel pressing and details are absolutely what the company want to be said about “Audi”. Audi clearly does believe that “God is in the details”. It isn’t exciting. It is a bit arrogant. It’s a little dull, but there is a certain sense of edging toward a timelessness that is quite elegant.

    1. I view that aspect of Audi as a bit like a pair of Church’s shoes. As you say SC, I admire them, though I don’t actually want a pair. You also use the word ‘arrogance’ and reverting to the Church’s shoes analogy, there is a bit of arrogance about the discreetly well-dressed Englishman. I don’t know whether the average Audi driver has this feeling of self-satisfaction, knowing they made the right choice, the classic choice, the tasteful choice, as they sit serenely in a traffic jam, hand straying across the perfectly stitched upholstery whilst they shake their heads in mature disbelief at the sight of my ridiculous Cube in front of them. Probably.

    2. It’s Audi’s prerogative to pursue incremental changes and usually they do this very well. In this car the changes are not so well judged. Is it or is it not a new car? Audi customarily managed to make each generation subtly but distinctly different, from top to tail. This car seems patchily different only.

    3. I would be interested to read from Richard where he sees the areas of the new A4 that are retrograde in design

  5. I quite agree with you, SV. The market seems to support what you’re saying. Let’s see for how long.

    I actually used to like Audi’s approach some 15-20 years ago, when I felt there was still enough difference between the classes and the generations. But there were much fewer models and longer product lifetimes back then. Today, for me it feels as if Audi wants to build a continuum – time and class wise. There you go, diversity…
    And besides missing diversity I feel a little cheated by this approach, as it seems like they want to disguise if something is new or just a facelift. If my car looks outdated next to newer ones I don’t care, especially if I like the older one more than the novelty. But then I might be a rather untypical customer.

    1. Audi had the knack of changing their cars without making the predecessors look worse. I don’t know what this one is supposed to do.

  6. It’s not as dreadful as the new R8 and Q7 (as well as, presumably, the upcoming A5), but this A4 still goes to serve why Wolfgang Egger needed to go. This isn’t evolutionary styling – that was what Claus Luthe was doing at BMW – but stagnation. The B5 and B6 generations of A4 were prime examples of Audi’s styling expertise at that time and betrayed a clear, evolutionary core in addition to carefully chosen, restrained new elements. Those cars, but particularly the B6 convertible with hood raised, are exemplary. This one isn’t.

    (Come to think of it: Richard seems to have ignored the new R8 and Q7 for good reason. I’d nonetheless appreciate his critique of these utterly misguided aberrations.)

  7. So that’s an Audi-looking Audi, and fair enough. But looking at the dimension figures in comparison with the old midsize cars I’ve been reading about recently, a new A4 is now longer than an E34 5-series, and significantly longer than the Alfa 164 and friends in the Tipo 4 quartet. I know that it’s much nicer to crash, securely carry a takeaway beverage cup or synchronise with the internet in a new car but this car is approximately an A6-sized package and footprint wearing a slimming alphanumeric designation. No wonder we like the A3 saloon around here, it’s actually the traditional compact exec car of the range.

    1. You’re quite right Mark, but this is definitely not an Audi issue. Most “midsize” cars are now around 4.80 m. I remember my Citroën CX that was one class above (like the Tipo 4 cars you mention) was at 4.65 m. This is nowadays already in reach of small family cars in their saloon or estate versions (Peugeot 308 estate: 4.58 m; Opel Astra estate: 4.70 m!).

    2. This general growth is one of the main reasons for the lacking appeal of today’s luxury saloons. As long as it remained somewhat close to the 5m mark, the pinnacle saloon struck the right balance between imposing and elegant. Today’s versions of these cars are just too damn bloated to give any impression of elegance. Rolls-Royce does wonderful things with the shape of oversized saloons, but mass-market styling just looks daft on such a large scale.

    3. Kris, this is an interesting observation, and I quite agree.
      Lacking appeal is also what I feel when I see today’s luxury cars. I’ll write something about this below the article on the BMW 7 series.

  8. People haven’t grown that much, but airbags, pillars, stiffening structures and electrical aids have.

    I think one reason why the D-segment (outside of the German three) has become literally superfluous is exactly that the gap between midsize and luxury cars has become very, very narrow.
    In the Citroën example (sorry, this is the one I know best), the C6 and the C5 were only separated by around 10 cm in wheelbase and length (but miles in design…), while there was a huge gap between the first C4 and the C5.

  9. I noticed from your introduction that the A4 Avant is almost the same length as my 1996 A6 Avant. Many urban parking spaces stay the same size so, even allowing a bit of puffing out due to safety considerations, it seems silly. For all my whingeing about PSA, they deserve credit for trying to decrease the length of recent models.

  10. Agreed, people aren’t the only driver of car sizes. Safety and refinement matter too. There seems to be a natural maximum size for a passenger vehicle. The D-class cars are hovering around there and the two classes below are crowding in on the same dimensions. Often there is not much of a clue as to the relative size of the cars. An A4 now is a substantial car and not visually distinct from an A6 any more. Back in the old, good days you knew precisely the ranking of 3, 5 and 7: cramped for all but the driver, acceptable for driver and passenger, acceptable for drivers and front and rear passengers.

    1. Thanks for the hint, Richard, I have seen it. However, in my busy days at the moment, a well considered answer takes some more time.

  11. It’s true that half a metre of sheet metal, glass and trim doesn’t really add that much to the cost of building a vehicle. So why shouldn’t people further down the imagined ladder be allowed a bit more legroom? Should we view this as a positive social move on the car industry’s part maybe?

  12. If that half metre would add consideravly to the legroom, I’d happily agree. Alas, my impression is that it doesn’t. Or if so, only in very small amounts. Add to this small windows and bulky interior trim, and you feel much less at ease in a 4.8 m C5 than in a 4.4 m Xantia.

    1. Yes, that is so true. I decided at least seven years ago that there was more comfort to be had in a the back of a well-specced Kangoo than most cars of the C-D class. The decider might be whether there was an armrest or not. I was in the back of a new Mondeo lately. That was spacious. I could tolerate that. For real packaging genius look at the leg-room in a 1988 Fiat Tipo. The Peugeot 405 and 406 are also excellent in this regard. The 406 has especially well-shaped seats. Absurdly so, given the marker didn´t expect this kind of refimement.

    1. Multiply this figure by half a million vehicles, and you know that companies don’t add that half metre of hardware out of generosity or social consience.

  13. If the drag coefficient is really 0.23 then that’s impressive. It’s a shame no-one cares about such things any more. It’s a long time since Audi proudly displayed the 100’s CD figure on the rear three-quarter glass of the 1982 100.

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