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First look: Fresh S4 leads facelifted Audi A4 line

Sizzling: Facelifted S4 will lead an upgraded Audi A4 sedan and wagon range due Down Under around mid-2012.

Audi reveals midlife A4 makeover and new-look S4 more than six months ahead of sales

27 Oct 2011

AUDI has bowled up first images and details of its facelifted A4 just weeks ahead of the global launch of its chief protagonist, BMW’s sixth-generation 3 Series.

Now on sale in Germany with price increases of about $500, the 2012 mid-size sedan and wagon range will be headlined by a new-look S4 sports sedan when it goes on sale in Australia around mid-2012.

Like the rest of the freshened A4 range, the S4 features a new bonnet, headlights, bumpers and paint colours, plus subtle interior changes. It will also continue to ride on 18-inch alloy wheels and S sport suspension.

All A4s will come with more curvaceous bonnet and headlights – the latter with reworked LED running lamps – matching tail-light LED graphics, a revised single-frame grille painted grey on four-cylinder models and gloss black on six-cylinders, four new exterior paint colours and a reshaped front bumper with trapezoidal foglights.

Inside, there are new steering wheel designs and improved dashboard and console trim, plus detail changes to switchgear and Audi’s MMI infotainment system and rearranged cabin colours and seat trims.

The A4 Allroad crossover wagon is likely to remain off-limits within Audi’s top-selling model range in Australia, where the Volkswagen luxury brand is preparing to launch its small Q3 luxury SUV.

Although the local line-up is yet to be confirmed, the upgraded A4 will be powered by the same new direct and indirect injection 1.8-litre turbo-petrol four that debuted in July in the revised A5 hatchback, which will beat the refreshed A4 here in the first half of next year.

7 center imageAudi’s super-efficient new 1.8 TFSI pounds out as much torque as the German maker’s existing 2.0 TFSI while slashing fuel consumption by more than 20 per cent over the existing 1.8-litre turbo in the A4 and A3.

Lifting peak power from 118 to 125kW and maximum torque from 250 to 320Nm - generated between 1400 and 3700rpm – the latest 2.0 TSFI petrol four matches the performance of the 2.0 TDI turbo-diesel fitted across the Audi range.

Icing on the cake is even better combined fuel consumption than the 2012 A5 Sportback 1.8 TFSI (5.7L/100km), at just 4.6L/100km – easily bettering the Mercedes-Benz C200 CGI sedan’s 1.8-litre engine (7.3L/100km) and BMW’s outgoing 320i (8.1L/100km).

The newest A4 1.8 TFSI will also out-torque the C200 CGI (135kW/270Nm) and BMW’s upcoming F30 320i, which offers 137kW/270Nm but as yet its fuel consumption is unknown.

The exceptionally low fuel consumption of the base A4 petrol auto sedan (which current opens pricing here at $54,900 – excluding the entry-level A4 TDIe manual at $52,200) comes in part to the fitment of automatic idle-stop, brake-energy recuperation and on-demand-only ancillary component operation as standard across the A4 range.

Along with a new electromechanical steering system, Audi says the changes make the 2012 A4 range an average of 11 per cent more efficient than before.

The top-shelf S4, which will again be available in four-door sedan and five-door wagon (Avant) body styles, continues to be powered by a supercharged 3.0-litre TFSI V6 petrol engine delivering 245kW and 440Nm of torque.

However, the fuel-saving technologies have eked more efficiency and acceleration out of the latest S4, which currently costs $119,900), with fuel consumption falling from 9.4 to just 8.0L/100km and the claimed 0-100km/h figure dropping from 5.3 to five seconds flat.

Between the 3.0 and 1.8 TFSI petrol engines will be an upgraded 2.0 TFSI turbo-four that generates 157kW (up from 132kW), while a new centrifugal pendulum-type absorber in the dual-mass flywheel is said to make Audi’s 2.0-litre turbo-diesel in some A4 2.0 TDI models more refined, quieter and up to 0.2L/100km more efficient.

The upgraded 2.0 TDI engine is available in Europe in 100kW, 120kW and, with quattro drive, 130kW form, while the carryover engine remains in 88 and 105kW guises. The latter is fitted to Australia’s current A4 2.0 TDI sedan.

Two 3.0-litre six-cylinder turbo-diesels are also on offer in Europe with outputs of 204 and 182kW – up from 176kW in Australia’s outgoing A4 3.0 TDI quattro, which tops the mainstream line-up at $86,000.

All front-wheel-drive A4s are fitted with a six-speed manual transmission as standard in Europe, with Multitronic CVT and seven-speed S-tronic dual-clutch automatic transmissions available on most models.

The A4 comes standard with eight speakers, but high-end options include radar-based adaptive cruise control, active lane-keeping, blind spot monitoring, voice control, and a Bluetooth online phone with Google Earth and Street View, plus email/internet via a WLAN hotspot.

Released here in May 2008, Audi’s eighth-generation A4 sedan commands almost 20 per cent share of Australia’s premium mid-size vehicle segment so far this year – despite a 12 per cent sales slide.

That makes it the third most popular behind the 3 Series, which still accounts for almost a quarter of the market but is down more than 20 per cent, and the C-class, which is down nine per cent but currently holds a dominant 32 per cent share.

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