The History and Evolution of the Audi A4

Back in the 90s Audi had a decision to make.  It was time to retire the Audi 80 so work began on a new model as its successor. The new compact executive vehicle that would take its place was finally presented in 1994, it would be the first of at least five generations which are still in production today. It was a long process that began with sketches and development plans in 1988. Imre Hasanic was chosen to provide the exterior design in 1992 and the interior had been finalized and approved by 1992. Audi is a German car manufacturer which is a subsidiary of the Volkswagen Group. The A4 model received inspiration from the GroupB platform of the Volkswagen. It is worth noting that the Audi A4 vehicles have all retained the internal numbering that picks up where the A80 left off with a clear distinction that it is a continuation of the line in its DNA.

The first generation: 1994-2001

The Audi A4, known in the plant by the Type 8D was first presented to the world in October of 1994 with a teaser reveal that let everyone known what was coming within the next calendar year. Plant production began in November of 1994 and by the following January, models were available for purchase on showroom floors in Europe with North American sales commencing in September of 1995 for the 1996 model.

The new compact executive car featured front-wheel drive and a front-mounted longitudinal engine. Several variants of the A4 were produced through its history but the first version of the A4 as a four-door sedan. In February of 1996, Audi offered the A4 in the Avant estate wagon format.

The European markets were afforded a broad range of engine choices including 1.6 and 2.8-liter petrol engines and a 1.9-liter diesel engine that featured Volkswagen’s VE technology. For the North American market, only a 2.8-liter engine in a V-6 was offered until 1997 when changes would come.

First generation racing

The Adi A4 was also modified with a special 1.8-liter 20V engine featuring five valves per cylinder taken from their version of a Supertouring race car. It was a turbocharged edition that cranked 148 bhp along with 155 lb-ft of torque with a later upgrade in the engine that increased the output of the engine to 176 bhp and 173 lb-ft of torque. Engine upgrades continued with a 2.8-liter V6 that offered 190 bhp with a new engine that downsized the previous edition to a 2.6-liter 150 hp engine that managed to increase the power of the plant to 163 bhp.

A facelift in 1998-99

The first generation of the Audi A4 finished out with a new look in the A4 B5 that brought about minor alterations in its seven-year existence. In particular, the old 2.8-liter 30 valve engine was replaced with a new version in a 12 valve format. They also offered a 2.5-liter turbocharged direct injection V6 diesel engine that could be paired with an available six-speed manual transmission. They also received some minor changes in the interior and exterior such as new door handles, headlights and rear lights.

Second Generation: 2001-2006

The second generation made its debut on October 10th of 2000 with the design influence of Peter Schreyer which had been in the works from 1996 through 1998 for the second generation of the A4. Audi saw fit to make a few power upgrades. Two more versions of the 1.8-liter 20 valve turbo were made available in a choice of 148 bhp and 178 bhp and a six-speed manual transmission. The 2.8-liter V-6 was replaced with a 2.0 liter and a3.0 liter featuring all aluminum alloy which was rated at 217 bhp with 221 lb-ft of torque and the 1.9 Turbocharged Direct injection engine got an upgrade as well. The new generation also received a new anti-lock braking system with brake assist and electronic brakeforce distribution and this became the new standard along with a rear dynamic torque distribution system.

In June of 2001, the new Avant was introduced for the 2002 model year. Upgrades in power were made and an A4 Cabriolet convertible variant labeled the Typ 8H was also introduced to replace the older 80 version of the Cabriolet.

Third generation: 2004-2009

In the latter part of 2004, the new third-generation Audi A4 was introduced. It came out with revisions in the suspension geometry, steering settings and it had a range of new internal combustion engines. Equipped with stock navigation systems and electronics for the chassis along with a new grill assembly and some minor changes in the detailing, but the interior and the dashboard remained the same.

Fourth generation: 2008-2016

Audi’s A4 for 2011 was the facelift model that included some remarkable changes including a redesign in the LED tail lights and Headlights along with fog lamps, a front air dam and twin exhausts that were closely set. On the interior, a redesign in the ignition key and a three-spoke steering wheel along with new air conditioning controls, power windows with chrome clasps and a new infotainment system were added.

Fifth generation: 2016 to present

The current generation of the Audi A4 kicked off in 2016 with its revelation in June of 2015 at the Frankfurt Motor Show. The new generation featured a slightly larger size than the previous generation, but the new materials also made it 265 pounds lighter with Frank Mimili as the designer and Rediger Mueller in charge of interior design.


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