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A6 behind move to make A4 A1

Family resemblance: Audi's next generation A4 is likely to draw heavily on the lines of the current A6 (above)

Audi aims to beat Mercedes-Benz and BMW at their own game with its next generation A4

4 Nov 1999

AUDI'S next generation A4 range will be spearheaded by an ultra-sleek coupe aimed at the two-door BMW 3 Series.

The coupe is expected to be launched about a year after the all- new A4 sedan makes its European debut around June, 2001.

The sedan is likely to draw heavily on the current A6's striking lines and will aim to topple the BMW 3 Series and Mercedes-Benz C-class as the acknowledged benchmarks in the prestige compact car segment.

It will be no easy task, given that Mercedes-Benz will unveil its all-new C-class around the same time.

Bigger, roomier and more luxurious than the car it replaces, the new A4 sedan is likely to mirror the A6's swooping roofline and distinctive rounded tail.

It will also feature more pronounced wheel arches and slightly longer front and rear overhangs.

Audi is expected to answer criticism of the current A4 by providing more interior space, particularly for rear seat passengers.

As with the TT, front-wheel drive models will hit the market earlier than the quattro variants.

It is believed five engines will be offered in European spec sedans, ranging from a 1.4-litre, four-cylinder unit to a 165kW V6. The smallest engine will not be available in Australia.

The range-topping coupe is expected to be offered with the same 2.7-litre, twin turbo V6 that powers the S4. This engine produces 198kW and a whopping 400Nm of torque.

Audi is reportedly responding to criticism that the S4 is a somewhat uninvolving car to drive by ensuring the coupe offers a more rewarding driving experience.

Convertible and station wagon variants will supplement the A4 sedan and coupe. The electrically powered soft-top will be built by specialist coachbuilder Karmann in time for a launch in late 2002.

The current A4 has been a big seller for Audi in Europe but has not enjoyed similar success in Australia, despite winning more than its fair share of critical acclaim.

The A4 notched up just 1101 sales until the end of September, well below the BMW 3 Series sedan's tally of 3049 and the Mercedes-Benz C-class's total of 2704.

This is largely due to the fact Audi is yet to establish a solid brand image as a prestige marque in Australia.

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