NICE, France - Audi's new lower-luxury A4 has moved away from the sharply defined image of its predecessor, sharing many rounded styling cues with the medium-luxury A6.
The new A4 comes with a range of new engines and is longer and wider than the model it replaces. It sits on a 35mm longer wheelbase that has helped increase interior space in the cabin and in the trunk. Rear-seat legroom has been improved by 43mm.
Overall, the car is 67mm longer and 33mm wider than the old model.
A new lightweight aluminum suspension system mixes comfort with the A4's traditional sporty feel.
The improvements were made following a survey of existing A4 owners, who said they wanted more room and a better ride.
A more rigid body structure and a 'sideguard' head-level airbag system have improved safety. All models are able to take Isofix child seats.
The new A4 is being offered with a choice of six engines - four gasoline and two turbodiesel.
Two of the gasoline units are new and both are fitted with aluminum crankcases. There's a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder that generates 130hp, and a 3.0-liter, 220hp V-6 that offers a top speed of 245kph and a 0-100kph acceleration time of 6.9 seconds.
The turbodiesel engines are a 1.9-liter, four-cylinder that produces 130hp and a 2.5-liter, 180hp V-6. Diesels currently account for 42 percent of A4 sales.
The A4 is available with either front-wheel drive or Audi's quattro four-wheel-drive system on selected models.
Audi is offering the car with five- and six-speed manual transmissions. A continuously variable - or multitronic - transmission is available as an option.
The new A4 goes on sale in Germany at the end of this month and elsewhere in Europe from January 2001. Audi expects to build 200,000 units next year at its plant in Ingolstadt, Germany.