New Audi A4: the inside (and outside) story of the new generation
First look in Munich: Audi A4
AudiI's reveal of their new A4 (due here in November) had a whiff of intrigue and suspense. They took my phone and laptop and made me wear covers for my shoes before I could enter the hallowed hall for first sights.
And then, there stood the car whose forerunners have outsold rivals in Ireland - BMW 3-series, Mercedes C-Class - for eight of the last nine years (1,100 bought in 2014).
This ninth generation (ancestry goes back to the Audi 80 in 1972) benefits from myriad trickle-down technologies from the Q7 especially, but sticks to being conservatively styled. The estate (Avant) looks better but we don't buy many.
So here's the 'inside' story. It gets here mid-November; they are taking orders from August. It will be the newest of the new in the segment which includes recent-arrival Jaguar XE, Meredes C-Class and soon-to-be-revised BMW 3-series. With so many fresh models, the sector will expand.
The A4 will cost from under €40,000 but how much more than the current €36,900 kick-off is unclear. The existing 2-litre TDI 120bhp starts at €37,800; BMW's 316d from €38,690.
First impressions? It looks bigger, lower; the front single-frame grille dominates. The back looks wider - the three-dimensional rear lights create that impression.
The design is 'cabin-back and longer snout' which, with a lot of detailed design work (a smart line from bonnet to boot), gives it a best-in-class 0.23 drag co-efficient.
The design of the front bumper will be different for all three trim levels. And xenon lights are standard, working up to Matrix. They have shaved off 120kgs (now 1,320kg) with engine, body and even cables/wiring (down 6kg) among the weight watchers.
Based on the so-called MLP platform it's 25mm longer, 16mm wider, has 70mm more internal space (23mm extra knee room at back). They claim it is the largest cabin in its class. It is noticeably lower but they claim more head room. Not sure about that. The sloping roof at the rear is a little bit of a stooping hindrance too. There is fine room at the back though. I tested that.
The boot in the saloon remains at 480 litres but the Avant is up 15 to 505 litres.
Technology from the likes of the Q7 means there's a big spread of driver, safety and vehicle assists: from parking aids to self-driving elements (Active Cruise Control uses Lane Assist so it doesn't just follow the leader) and works up to 65kmh.
The collision avoidance system will help you swerve as well as brake. Important to note: most of these will be options as bargaining over price and spec continues.
While the long bonnet makes the saloon look larger the Avant looks better. Nice car for families; the current Avant costs €2,400 more but the gap will narrow. The saloon is the one for professional, company drivers (85pc-90pc sales).
The suspension gets an overhaul too with a new multi-link rear axle. Reckon on 17ins wheels being standard. The S-tronic 7spd transmission takes over at entry level and stop/start is standard.
The diesel engines are meaner and cleaner. The 2-litre 150bhp Ultra manages 3.7l/100km (95g/km, €180 road tax); another 2-litre pumps 190bhp (4,1-litres/100km, 107g/km). The 272bhp 3-litre V6 manages 129g/km. Yet to come is the 218bhp V6 (around 110g/km). There will be 1.4-TFSI and 2-litre TFSI petrols (only 5pc of sales).
Inside, the dash is slim and curved; an excellent example of Audi making the best cabins. It has the biggest ventilation slot you ever saw for the front-seat passenger. Air-con options are varied too - we tried the 3-Zone version.
Behind the wheel I was conscious of my head being near the ceiling but I had great sight of the bonnet and felt, if driving, I could place it well as it didn't dip away to leave me guessing its extremities. There is a neat, frameless rear-view mirror. The seats were strong (two ISOFIX points at rear) and the contours suited me.
There are all sorts of options on the infotainment front (7ins or 8.3ins depending on model, trim etc), including letting you link up and display your smartphone (Apple or android).
Look forward to driving this. That will tell the real inside story.