|Audi A4 History|
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The Audi A4 is a compact luxury car series made by Volkswagen Group, first sold in 1995 as a 1996 model and replacing the Audi 80. It was originally based on the B5, the same as the current VW Passat, and had the same chassis until a redesign in 2002. One distinction was the combination of longitudinal engine orientation and front wheel drive. Four wheel drive was available as an option. It was available with a large range of four and six cylinders from 1.6 L to 2.8 L, with the most popular versions powered by the VW Group's 1.9 TDI engine.
In 1998, the sedan/Avant received a facelift with a revised engine - the 2.8 was changed from 2 valves per cylinder to 5 valves per cylinder and power was increased to 193 PS (190 hp/142 kW). Also, new taillights, headlights, and minor interior changes were available the next year. A high-performance version, the Audi S4, was introduced in 2000. The S4 was equipped with a bi-turbo intercooled 2.7 L V6 producing 250 PS (247 hp/184 kW) and 350 Nm (258 ft.lbf) of torque. The car came in both a 6-speed manual and a 5-speed Tiptronic transmission to drive the power to the wheels via Audi's Quattro four wheel drive system. For 2001, the turbo boost on the 1.8T engine was raised to make 170 PS (168 hp/125 kW). Cars with the boosted four get a red shadow under the letter "T" on the back.
For 2002, the car was redesigned with a new chassis designated B6 (also called "8E" by Audi). It received a larger displacement engine, the 220 PS (217 hp/162 kW) 3.0 L V6 as a range topper, as well as new 2.5 L V6 TDI engines with 180 PS (177 hp/132 kW). The smaller 1.9 TDI's power was also increased to 130 PS (128 hp/96 kW). A continuously variable transmission was an option on front wheel drive cars. The new Audi S4 was introduced in 2003 and still used up to the current (2005) model. The new S4 is powered by a 4.2 L 40-valve V8 engine producing 340 PS (335 hp/250 kW). New to the 2003 model S4's are the choice between a 6-speed manual or a new 6-speed Tiptronic gear box.
In 2003, the Audi A4 received a third bodywork variation and, for the first time, a convertible version that finally replaced the outdated 80 Cabrio. Other additions to the range were the introduction of FSI technology (gasoline direct injection) to the atmospheric 2.0 L and an increase in power for the 1.8 L to 163 or 190 PS (161 or 187 hp/120 or 140 kW).
For the late 2005 model year, the A4 received its third redesign, named the B7 and has been drawn by Italian Walter Maria Da Silva. Major changes included a larger and sportier midrange engine, the 2.0 Turbo and 200 PS (197 hp/147 kW), while the V6 was enlarged to 3.2 L with power topping 255 PS (252 hp/188 kW), both of which featured FSI technology. The more powerful 1.9 TDI was replaced by a 16-valve 2.0 L engine with power increased to 140 PS (138 hp/103 kW), while the 3.0 TDI from the A6 was introduced as the new range topper, but slightly less powerful. Other changes included a new, controversial front grille based on that of the Audi Nuvolari prototype, a redesigned rear end, adaptive bi-xenon headlights, larger front and rear brakes, a new 6-speed Tiptronic transmission, suspension tweaks and minor interior modifications.
Quattro drive is available throughout the range on almost all engines (the 1.6 and 2.0 L aspirated being the exceptions), while the 3.0 TDI had standard quattro. The same happened to the new S4, which featured a slightly improved 4.2 V8, now with FSI technology, stroke reduced by 0.2 mm (1/10 of an inch) and a small increase in power, which was now 344 PS (339 hp/253 kW).
More impressive was the all-new RS4, which debuted in Europe in 2005. The RS4 was able to achieve a high power output of 420 PS (414 hp/309 kW) without need for supercharging, joining the small group of atmospheric engines with a specific output over 100 PS/litre. Unfortunately for Audi fans, the German brand did not remove the speed limiter, otherwise it was speculated the Audi RS4 could actually overtake the 300 km/h (186 mph) mark.
The biggest competitors for the A4 are the BMW 3-series, the Mercedes-Benz C-Class and the Lexus IS 200/300. Others include the Acura TL, Cadillac CTS, Infiniti G35 and Volvo S60. The original A4's success is generally viewed as the single most important factor for Audi's recovery in the US after the sales plunge caused by the Audi 5000's disputed sudden acceleration incidents (disclosed on the TV program 60 Minutes in 1986). Early A4s also suffered from several major design flaws such as premature control arm failures, timing belt failures, and oil sludging.
In specific, the original turbocharged I4 engine was affected by an oil sludge problem caused in part by its relatively low oil capacity. Transverse applications of this engine, as found in VW/Audi A platform vehicles, have a greater capacity and do not suffer from sludging to the same extent.
The A4 made Car and Driver magazine's Ten Best list for 1996 through 1998, and again for 2002.