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Although its official Australian launch is still a couple of months away Audi has unveiled the fifth generation A4 and provided a hands-on display of many of its innovative technical features. To showcase these features Audi Australia set up a fascinating interactive workshop at Sydney's Fox Studios.
The past decade has seen an unprecedented expansion in the range and effectiveness of features that have dramatically improved the comfort, convenience, efficiency and, most importantly, the safety of motor vehicles. Features such as ABS brakes and stability management systems that not so long ago were only seen in luxury vehicles are now mandatory in every new car sold in Australia. A raft of other safety items is also on offer, either as standard in most cars, sometimes as an extra cost option.
The Audi workshop focussed on three broad areas: lighting, multimedia / connectivity and driver assistance systems.
Adaptive LED headlights will be standard across the new A4 range as well as dynamic rear indicators.
Available as an option will be Audi Matrix LED system. Using a simulator at the Audi workshop we were able to watch how the components of this operates. At its heart are twelve LEDs with three reflectors, each one of which is individually controllable and dimmable through a camera on the interior mirror and a control unit under the bonnet.
High beam is always turned on but is dimmed automatically when other vehicles are nearby, either oncoming or that the car is following. The system has up to eight fingers of light so that the beam can remain on high where it is not directly affecting other vehicles and so continue to monitor the sides of the road.
The light centre also shifts into oncoming curves according to the car's steering angle or proactively in conjunction with satnav.
Daytime running lights sit at the top and bottom of the light unit with the top one also operate as parking lights and indicators. The lower section of the unit also includes enhanced foglights, or all-weather lights as Audi calls them, which precisely project a beam down to highlight road markings in heavy fog.
The A4 features what Audi call its Virtual Cockpit which allows the display on the 8.3-inch centre screen to be modified to suit the driver's current requirements and so reduce driver distraction. The screen is controlled by the usual circular knob (MMI Touch) in the centre console rather than being a touchscreen.
The MMI (Multimedia Interface) has been upgraded to include handwriting recognition, voice recognition. Also included are a DVD player; 10 gigs of music storage; USB-style Audi Music Interface and live traffic updates.
We were also able to experience the excellent sound quality of the optional Bang and Olufsen 3D sound system with 23 speakers providing over 1900 watts. Despite the sound being played at high volume within a crowded hall was completely contained within the Q7 in which we tested the system. The A4 gets a similar, and cheaper, system with 19 speakers and 755 watts.
Also optional are removable tablets for rear seat passenger entertainment.
Arguably the most important features, these include a number that we've experienced in recent new Audi models.
One of the newest is the Exit Warning System which uses sensors on the side and rear of the car to detect when cars, motorcycles or pushbikes are going past at the time the driver or rear right-hand side passenger are about to open their respective doors and flashes a warning light.
The A4 is indeed "the most technologically-advanced Audi that has ever been sold in Australia"
Pre-Sense City (AEB) with pedestrian detection uses a forward facing camera to monitor other road users up to 100 metres ahead. If there's a threat of a crash it alerts the driver, firstly with a warning buzzer, then a warning jolt and finally automatic emergency braking. If necessary, full pre-sense braking will be activated.
Cross Traffic Assist alerts the driver the A4 is reversing out of a parking spot and another vehicle is approaching.
Audi Side Assist alerts the inattentive driver to another vehicle entering the so-called blind spot to the side of the car.
There is also an optional Assistance Package adds active lane assist (warns or intervenes where it senses that the car is leaving a lane without indicating); adaptive cruise control with traffic jam assist (automatically guides the car at low speeds when following stop/start traffic using lane markings and other vehicles on the road); turn assist (monitors oncoming traffic when turning right at low speed and apply the brakes where necessary); collision avoidance assist (computes a safe track around an obstacle, warns the driver and intervenes to guide the vehicle); parking assist (automatically parks the car in parallel or perpendicular parking places); and predictive efficiency system (use navigation data to recommend the most fuel-efficient use of throttle and braking).
Surprisingly for such a well-established feature, the new A4 is the first Audi vehicle to include a head-up display.
Which most people will be familiar with Audi's slogan 'Vorsprung durch Technik' few will know what it means. The English translation is 'Advancement through Technology' and if, according to Audi, the A4 is indeed "the most technologically-advanced Audi that has ever been sold in Australia" then the slogan certainly rings true.
We'll do an expanded report, including drive impressions, on the new A4 when it's launched here in mid-February 2016.
In brief there will be a choice of four drivetrains, three TFSI petrol variants and one TDI diesel model. The 1.4 TFSI engine develops 110 kW, while a new 2.0 TFSI variant produces 140kW. The 2.0 TFSI and 2.0 TDI quattro all-wheel-drive models peak at 185kW and 140kW respectively.
All engines will be mated with Audi's seven-speed S tronic dual-clutch transmission.
In the meantime Audi has announced pricing for the four model variants. Note that many of the new advanced features described above are options and so will increase prices, sometimes substantially.