January 31, 2000

The Next A4? Part 2
In April 1999 I wrote an article for A4.Org titled "The Next A4?" and it addressed the so-called "spy" photos of the next generation A4. The photos I had gathered for the article were more illustration than photograph and were made by some very talented people. People still find it hard to believe that these are fake, but in reality they are fairly easy to create. I demonstrated this point by making an Audi SUV out of the AllRoad press photos.

Most of these fake photos seem to first appear in the European auto "tabloids" Auto Bild & Auto Express and eventually make it into the U.S. publications. My original article seemed to quiet all talk about these spy photos for awhile, but over the last few months a new crop of spy photos have appeared. These photos have sparked numerous discussions on the A4 forum and it seems almost daily someone is asking about when the next generation of A4 is going to come out.

Once again I've decided to address this issue. Please remember I'm no expert in this field, I'm just an Audi enthusiast from Utah, but I do have the privilege of knowing people at Audi and my "industry insiders" are just as reliable source as any other. Plus, when it comes to predicting future cars that may or may not be in development, I guess I'm as good as anybody to predict when they'll appear.

Last time I wrote about this, most of the rumors were that the new A4 would debut in the summer of 2000 as a sedan and Avant, with coupe and convertible versions following shortly afterafter. Now, nine months later, I think it's safe to say that the new A4 won't be coming out this summer. The current rumors surrounding the A4 redesign now claim summer of 2001 for the new model.

Most of the rumors and the accompanying "photos" have all described the new A4 to be borrowing design elements from the A6 and TT. I think it's reasonable to think this, but I've heard that this may not be the case. "Why does everybody think it's going to look the A6 and TT?" an Audi employee asked me when I inquired about the next generation A4. They wouldn't elaborate more than that, but did add that most of the spy photos are not close to final design.

One of the more interesting rumors to come from the auto tabloids focuses on an AllRoad version of the A4 (think Subaru Outback). While it is a rumor, I was able to find out that it could become a reality if the A6 based AllRoad is successful. I also found out that a small SUV based on the A3 platform may be in the works - just add that to the rumor list, since I have no more details than that.

While attending the press preview days at the North American International Auto Show, I was able to show some Audi of America and Audi AG executives the "spy" photo that recently appeared in Car & Driver. The best response I got was "I sure hope it doesn't look like that, that thing is hideous!"

Also, while in Detroit, I asked about the coupe and convertible versions that have been rumored.

Me: "Is there any truth to the rumors about coupe and cabriolet versions of the A4?"

Audi AG person: "Is there a market for those models?"

Me: "Uh, yeah."

Audi AG person (with a smile): "Well then, I guess it's a possibility."

I tried to get more, but they wouldn't budge. Needless to day, I think we can expect to see a coupe and convertible A4 sometime in the future. When? Last time I wrote that I thought the new A4 wouldn't be available until the 2002 or 2003 model years. I've heard that any new A4 model would most likely debut at the Frankfurt International Autoshow (IAA). Since the next IAA isn't until 2001, this seems to be in line with the current rumors that the car will debut in the summer of 2001. If it debut at the show in 2001, it would most likely go on sale in Europe shortly after and the U.S. market would probably receive it later in 2002 as a 2003 model.

Until you see something official from Audi AG, none of these images can be taken seriously. In the mean time, if you come across any of these photos of the next generation A4, please remember that they are fake. Also keep a very open mind about the design, since those photos are probably not even close to the final design.

The beauty of the recent spy photo that appeared in Car & Driver is that I was able to find the original press photo almost immediately. As you can see, the fake photo on the left has the same background as the original press photo on the right. Sure, there are a few differences, but most of those edits would have been extremely easy to make. Other things to look at: the reflections in the windshields are virtually identical and if the images were in a higher resolution, you would be able to tell that the license plate numbers are the same.

This fake photo is the one that the Audi AG executive called "hideous".

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