by Chris Adamson
That’s if you add up all the body styles, specification levels, transmissions and engines – and it will be 111 when the new Audi RS4 arrives in September.
These figures constitute the biggest range revision in their history according to Audi, who are making quite a fuss about numbers for their new major premium sector model mainly because there isn’t actually a lot of physical difference between it and the outgoing A4.
The reason for the fanfare for the new generation A4 probably has more to do with the recent arrival of the new BMW 3 Series which has generally received rave reviews and needs to be countered if Audi is to retain its sales advantage in this fiercely fought sector.
Visually the changes are slight; a new re-sculptured bonnet, front bumper with angled air vents and fog lights, revised single frame grille with tapered edges, restyled headlights with daytime LED running lights, revised rear bumper and new design taillights.
Instead the main point of interest on the ninth generation A4 is the new, more efficient and cleaner engines with automatic stop-start facility which are where the value really lies.
While the whole range has been upgraded to improve CO2 emissions by an average of 11 per cent and, in one case up to 21 per cent, the best seller is going to be their latest 2 litre turbo-charged diesel in a 136bhp Eco power output mainly because it cuts emissions to just 112 g/km (from 120g.km) which makes it attractive when it comes to road tax payments and if you are buying it with a business cheque.
It is no slouch either with a sub 10 second sprint time and will still return over 65 miles to the gallon.
It’s easy to see why this will be popular with owners, as it has plenty of mid-range punch for confident overtaking, has sustained acceleration for motorway work and it’s lively enough out of the blocks to never really feel like the entry level model it is.
Fresh to the range is a more powerful 163bhp version of the same engine fitted with a six-speed manual transmission which runs it very close on emissions at a lowly 115g/km and is almost a match in fuel conservation at 64.2mpg.
There is however a noticeable difference between the two when it comes to on-road performance as the more powerful unit has a quicker turn of speed and response to the throttle pedal and would be my preference.
Other diesels to choose from are the 143bhp and 177bhp examples of the 2.0 TDI, a 204bhp 3 litre V6 TDi borrowed from the A6 range (replacing the 2.7 TDi) and a 245bhp version of this same engine which is linked exclusively to the quattro models.
Joining the best selling diesels is a new 1.8 litre TFSi petrol which Audi is quite keen on but which wasn’t available to test at the UK press launch. It promises a healthy 320Nm of torque which is a match for many diesels and a zero to 62mph time of 8.1 seconds.
At 170bhp it is 13 per cent more powerful than before while emissions have been slashed by 21 per cent to 134 g/km and fuel consumption improves to an average of 49.6mpg which is pretty good for a unit that uses unleaded.
Other petrol units are an entry level 120bhp version of the 1.8 TFSi which is now 19 per cent cleaner than its predecessor and a 211bhp 2 litre TFSi – deleted from the range is the 3.2 litre V6 which was too thirsty.
As before the A4 is available as a four-door saloon which is the main sales player, as a very attractive Avant estate, which would be my choice and as the All-Road, a slightly raised mud-plunging lifestyle model.
There are also go faster S4 versions and the option of Audi’s famous quattro four-wheel drive and a Multitronic CVT transmission.
In all cases, fuel consumption and emissions can be improved through the use of Audi’s driver select adaptive dynamics system which now has an ‘efficiency’ mode which adjusts throttle responses and items such as the climate control operation.
Equipment levels are trimmed down to just three grades: SE, SE Technik for 2 litre TDI models and S-Line with the extra option of Black versions which as the name suggests adds accessories such as titanium finish 19inch alloys, black grille frames and tinted windows plus an upgraded audio system.
All models come with electro-mechanical assisted steering to cut fuel consumption and emissions, 17 inch alloy wheels, three-zone climate control, ten-speaker 180 watt Concert CD audio system, cruise control, rear parking sensors, light and rain sensors, Bluetooth connection and a colour display Driver Information System.
A new feature is a Driver Analysis system that monitors a variety of individual driver characteristics and then warns the driver if this changes during a journey which might indicate they are getting tired.
The SE Technik trim costs £1,100 more and adds in Milano leather DVD satellite navigation, a music interface with iPod connection and front parking sensors,
Performance oriented owners will opt for the S Line which includes larger 18 inch alloys, lowered suspension, xenon headlamps and exterior and interior styling details.
Options include access to Google mapping and Google Earth and the creation of a local Wi-Fi connection giving instant internet access.
All this is fitted into a cabin that has small changes to areas that the driver is most in contact with, such as the steering wheel utilising softer touch materials and the inclusion of more chrome and high gloss trim.
Prices for the new Audi A4 have risen by just £200 over the outgoing model starting at under £24,000. The A4 range now comes with a new Audi Complete package including five years warranty, three years servicing and first MOT at prices starting from £34 a month.