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Earning Respect

Audi adds a new A4 to its U.S. lineup as it searches for more recognition in the American market.

Audi, the third respected premium deutsche marque (after Mercedes- Benz and BMW) in Europe and elsewhere, continues striving for more respect here. ‘It’s frustrating and a mystery to me that we have not yet been able to reach that same degree of recognition in this market,’ said new Executive VP, North America Johan de Nysschen at the 2005 A4’s U.S./Canada press introduction. Then he promised: ‘That is what we are going to do.’

The new A4 sports the new face of Audi and has had all of its exterior features updated.
While German-makes as a group have not scored especially well in recent J. D. Power Initial Quality Surveys (IQS), Audi is ‘on par’ with its premium Teutonic competitors and was the top German brand in JDP’s ’04 Customer Satisfaction Index (CSI). In threeyear residual value, Audis currently average a respectable 52 percent compared to 54 percent for BMW and 51 for Mercedes-Benz. The company is also renown for its Quattro full-time all-wheel-drive system, now celebrating 25 years of race, rally, rotten-weather and dryroad traction. ‘Quattro is all about performance,’de Nysschen added, ‘it’s not just the snow and ice thing.’

Now, two years past the debut of its terrific top-line A8 and hard on the heels of its awardwinning ’05 mid-range A6, Audi replaces its best-selling compact (global B-class) A4 series with all-new sedan and Avant (wagon) models well equipped to further its credibility quest here and everywhere. Both standard 2.0L turbo four and available 3.2L V-6 engines feature Audi’s new Fuel Straight Injection (FSI) ‘ which squirts the charge directly into the combustion chamber ‘ and the former is an industry-first coupling of turbocharging with FSI. Also unique is the A4’s triple-transmission range: standard 6-speed manual, ‘Multimatic’ CVT (optional with the 2.0L and FWD) and 6- speed Tiptronic automatic (with Quattro).

New high-performance S4 versions, powered by a 340-hp 4.2L V-8 with a choice of 6-speed manual or Tiptronic automatic, will follow soon with specific interior trim, tighter sport suspensions on larger wheels and tires, quad exhausts and a rear deck spoiler on the sedan, and aluminum roof rails on the Avant. A V-6/CVT and a 6-speed manual Quattro combination will join the powertrain party before very long.


 The interior exudes Audi quality and craftsmanship.
This all-new iteration of Audi’s best-selling A4, like the A6, gets a bolder new look beginning with the ‘single-frame grille’ dominating its new trademark Audi face. The interior clearly shows why Audis have become a benchmark for competing makers: superb seats, tight fits, premium materials and outstanding attention to detail in design and construction. Key controls are high in the driver’s field of vision, while the center stack packages the standard dual automatic climate control with audio and available navigation system controls and display.

Interestingly, a specially designed center console exclusive to the U.S. and Canada has dual size-adjustable cupholders and an extra 12V outlet. ‘I think we’ve finally figured out how to make a good cupholder,’ joked Director, Product Management and Quality Marc Trahan. Largely due to the spaceefficient rear suspension, both sedan and Avant have wide, flat rear floors with 13.4 and 27.8 cu.ft. of trunk and behind-the-second-seat load capacity, respectively.

FSI engines

A4 buyers have a choice of two powerplants, the 3.2L V-6 and a 2.0L I-4. Both engines use a high-pressure common- rail injection system that ensures the right supply of fuel at all times.
Injecting fuel directly into the combustion chamber, while more complex and expensive than conventional port injection, provides a cooler, denser charge. A high-pressure common- rail injection system with its singlepiston pump operating on demand instantaneously ensures exactly the right supply of fuel at all times. Combined in the V-6 with optimized combustion chamber geometry and the tumble effect produced by charge-movement flaps in the 2-stage intake manifold, FSI enables an exceptionally high 12.5:1 compression ratio. The happy result: power and torque along with higher fuel economy and low (ULEV) emissions ‘ a win/win/win.

The DOHC 24-valve 3.2 FSI V-6, which debuted in the new A6 last November, features a 2-stage variable intake manifold and continuous camshaft adjustment of both intake and exhaust. It generates 255 hp and 243 lb.ft. peak torque, with more than 90 percent of the latter available from 1,900-5,900 rpm, propels the Quattro-equipped 6-speed automatic sedan from rest to 60 mph in 6.6 sec. while delivering 19 city, 26 highway and 21 combined EPA mpg.

The new DOHC 16-valve 2.0 T FSI provides a surprisingly strong 200 hp and 207 lb.ft. of torque available from 1,800-5,000 rpm. It shares a basic block with corporate cousin VW’s latest (transversely mounted) four but, in typical Audi fashion, is mounted longitudinally. Teamed with the 6-speed manual, it pulls the sedan from 0-60 mph in 7.3 sec. with 22/31/25 EPA economy.

Dynamic chassis

The A4’s suspension is 4-link front and ‘self-tracking’ trapezoidal-link rear, both mostly of light-alloy components for low unsprung mass. Each front wheel is located by four aluminum control arms with mounts and track rods adopted from the S4 and large rubber damper mounts for acoustic isolation. The electronic-assist rack-andpinion steering gives especially precise feel and feedback along with near-complete isolation from FWD forces.

The lightweight rear suspension’s trapezoidal links and wheel carriers are also borrowed from the S4, while several mounts and the (larger than before) shock absorbers are common with the A6. The hollowsection aluminum control arms, highly rigid in torsion and flex, absorb a large portion of the forces acting on the wheels. The result is outstanding agility and directional stability combined with a high level of isolation and comfort.

All 2005 A4/S4 models have Audi’s latest Electronic Stabilization Program (ESP), which combines ABS brakes with Electronic Brake-pressure Distribution (EBD) and hydraulic brake assist, which automatically increases braking force when it senses emergency braking. The traction control interacts with an electronic differential lock (EDL) to provide effective yaw control, and brake pressure can be applied to all four wheels if necessary to correct excessive under- steer. There’s even a brake disc wiping function that gently presses the linings against the discs at regular intervals to keep them relatively dry for quicker response in wet conditions. The heart of Quattro is a Torsen differential at the back of the transmission. Through sets of worm gears driving spur gears (which lock up when forces try to drive them in reverse), it consistently delivers the most torque to the slowest-rotating axle. Teamed with ESP and traction control, it delivers continuous optimum traction in all conditions on any surface.

Safety systems

Wagon afficionados can choose the Avant version of the new A4. 
Given the A4’s modest size and weight, Audi says it provides outstanding occupant safety largely due to its rigid structure with ‘meticulously calculated deformation properties.’ The body is unitary steel with integrated aluminum components and extensive use of high-strength and very-high-strength sheetmetal panels (about 45 percent by weight), primarily in the front, to absorb impact energy while minimizing deformation of the occupant shell.

The two-stage front air bags are supplemented by Sideguard head-level bags, seatbelt tensioners and belt-force limiters and (optional) rear side bags, all activated by an extensive system of sensors, including remote side sensors. Side-impact crash structure is improved, active front head restraints help prevent whiplash injuries in rear collisions, and a tire pressure monitoring system tracks both pressures and temperatures at each wheel and alerts the driver optically and acoustically in the event of a problem.

Prices and options

 While the Audi face dominates the design, careful attention was also given to the rear.
A4 stickers range from $27K for a 2.0L frontwheel- drive sedan to $40K-plus for a fully optioned V-6 Quattro. Options are primarily a range of packages including sport, premium and cold-weather, plus aluminum-finish or vavona wood console trim, DVD Navigation, Bose audio (with AutoPilot noise compensation), xenon plus (with automatic-dynamic range control) and adaptive headlamps that swivel to illuminate curves. Standard audio is a second-generation 10-speaker Audi Symphony system with a six-CD changer and wiring for XM or Sirius satellite radio, either of which can be ordered from the factory or dealer-installed later.

Audi Chief Engineer Dr. Ulrich Hackenberg calls this new A4 his company’s ‘sportiest and most sophisticated’ B-class car ever and is especially proud of the sporting character designed and developed into every element of each model, from the base sedan to the plushest Avant. ‘We want to make a sporty car,’ he says, ‘so we include the driver as part of the system.’ Asked if he would do anything differently next time around, he ponders, then concedes that he might add a few more premium touches to the interior.

Otherwise, Dr. Hackenberg asserts, “I think the car is quite perfect.”

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