|July 4, 2012
Audi B8 Platform Refresh
We recently trekked to Colorado to sample Audi's updated "B segment" offerings - the A4, A5 and new for USA A4 allroad. There are some interesting changes we'll be talking about here, inside and out, some subtle, some not.
The A4 is the bread and butter model for Audi in the USA, with this car making up the largest percentage of sales per model for the USA. Before Audi launched the A4 in 1996, Audi was the quirky brand languishing as a perennial also-ran amongst Mercedes Benz and BMW in the luxury import segment. It's not that the cars weren't great, because they were, but the casual Euro shopper didn't necessarily gravitate towards the brand with the 4 rings, unless he or she lived in the snow belt. This all changed with the 1996 A4, which was such a dramatic departure from Audis before it that it was actually taking buyers away from the other German brands.
Fast forward 16 years, and Audi is strongly at the head of the market, duking it out with BMW for ultimate sales numbers. Part of this is brand recognition; part of it is that the cars are just phenomenally good, and people who cross-shop other brands with Audi buy the Audi, because the other brand cars do not compare. Every evolution of the A4 since the B5 platform in 1996 has added flavor to the recipe that made the early cars so attractive to buyers, without taking anything away from what made them attractive to long time Audi buyers.
The current platform B8 A4 was a bit of a departure from the previous B7 A4, which was more buttoned down, more starched, more upright. Sharing much of its design with fraternal twin sister the A5 coupe, the B8 A4 was more elegant, more upscale looking than any B sedan or Avant before. Originally launched in 2008, the B8 A4 has been very well received by European car buyers.
As with every generation of Audi before, midway through the lifecycle of the model, the design is refreshed and oftentimes new technology is added when it's available. We'll hit on some of the key points, and go into depth on some of the more significant changes, and give a brief review on the new for USA A4 allroad.
Exterior Enhancements -
Mechanical Enhancements –
The only other major mechanical change to the B5 range is that the S5 coupe loses its V8 engine, instead being fitted with the 333hp 3 liter supercharged V6 engine, which was already fitted to the S4 sedan, and S5 cabriolet. The largest driving force behind this change is CO2 and fuel economy, and the S5 buyer no longer has to pay gas guzzler tax thanks to the 3.0TFSI engine.
In the USA, we are fortunate to continue have the option of 2 transmission choices in the S models. As before, the 6 speed manual gearbox is the standard transmission, with the S-tronic 7 speed dual clutch transmission being optional. Either is an excellent choice, but for drivers who absolutely prefer a manual, Audi is happy to provide the option.
Thanks to the upgrades to the CAN BUS system within the car, Audi was able to fit the new style steering wheel from the A8/A6/A7 siblings, which is a very nice upgrade. The S models receive the flat bottomed 3 spoke sport wheel (S-tronic models with shifting paddles as well), the optional sport package on the A4/A5/A4 allroad models sees the cars fitted with a full round 3 spoke wheel, and the standard models are fitted with the very nice 4 spoke wheel.
Technological Enhancements –
Avant Switcheroo -
Overall Impression –
We'll have more reviews on each model in the near future, stay tuned.