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2017 Audi A4: First Look

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Competes with: BMW 3 Series, Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Cadillac ATS, Lexus IS, Infiniti Q50

Looks like: The big changes are on the inside

Drivetrains: Seven engines (the U.S. will likely get the 252-horsepower, turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder, though it’s unclear if any other powertrains will be available here), front- or all-wheel drive, six-speed manual or seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmissions

Hits dealerships: TBD

German luxury brand Audi has unveiled the next-generation A4 sedan and A4 Avant wagon. The new A4, which will be a 2017 model when it arrives in the U.S. next year, receives some mild styling updates, a new interior, several updated engines and most importantly, a significant weight reduction.

Exterior

Despite barely looking any different from the current model, Audi claims the new sheet metal on the longer 2017 A4 contributes to its class-leading aerodynamics. Changes mirror those seen recently in the new 2016 A6 — a wider grille and new headlights and taillights — but the overall look is the same.

Interior

Changes inside are considerably more extensive with an all-new interior with more room and better materials and designs inspired by Audi’s recent concept cars. Revised switches and a new position and layout for Audi’s Multi Media Interface system accentuate a more horizontal dashboard.

The gauge cluster features an optional fully digital unit called Audi virtual cockpit that displays the entire navigation screen in front of the driver; it’s also found in the new Audi TT. The separate MMI display has been transformed into a tablet-like screen in the dash, which is similar to the setup in Mercedes-Benz vehicles.

Air vents that span the dash’s length offer indirect ventilation, and a new, stylish steering wheel completes the whole look. It’s an attractive update that maintains Audi’s traditional upscale qualities, while keeping the A4 competitive against the impressive new interiors popping up throughout the class.  

Under the Hood

Seven engines and three transmissions will be available when the A4 goes on sale in Germany, but the U.S. traditionally only gets one or two of those options. The most likely engine to show up stateside is the 252-horsepower, turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder mated to either the six-speed manual transmission or the new seven-speed dual-clutch automatic for both front- and all-wheel-drive Quattro models.

The continuously variable automatic transmission in the front-wheel-drive models has been discontinued, just like it has in the larger A6. Three diesel engines are available in Germany, and we’re hoping at least one will come to the U.S., especially since there’s a diesel option available in the smaller A3 and larger A6. Most importantly, the new A4 is over 250 pounds lighter than the outgoing model, meaning it should be quicker and more fuel efficient.

Safety

The new A4 will include a pedestrian safety monitor that uses a camera to scan for possible collisions and then actively brake if it senses a pedestrian might be hit, as well as a drive attention monitor that keeps an eye on the driver’s condition and alertness. Optional systems such as adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning and lane keep assist will also be available. 

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Detroit Bureau Chief Aaron Bragman has had over 25 years of experience in the auto industry as a journalist, analyst, purchasing agent and program manager. Bragman grew up around his father’s classic Triumph sports cars (which were all sold and gone when he turned 16, much to his frustration) and comes from a Detroit family where cars put food on tables as much as smiles on faces. Today, he’s a member of the Automotive Press Association and the Midwest Automotive Media Association. His pronouns are he/him, but his adjectives are fat/sassy. Email Aaron Bragman

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