During the 1980s, while the rest of the world was preoccupied with Reagan, hair bands, and MC Hammer pants, Audi was perfecting their image as a performance brand with a knack for rally racing. The company’s first sporty car, simply called the Quattro, was introduced in 1980. Since then, Audi has gone on to produce a plethora of performance oriented all-wheel drive cars, including the A4.
AUDI A4 AND VOLKSWAGEN DEVELOPMENT
The A4 is based on the Volkswagen B platform. Each generation has a chassis designation starting with the first generation, B5. The A4 is one of the smaller vehicles in Audi’s lineup, and is considered a compact car. Over the years, it has been offered in a variety of body styles including a four-door sedan, wagon, and a two-door cabriolet. While a front-wheel drive layout has always been standard, only a weichei (that’s wuss in German) would turn down the legendary Quattro all-wheel drive.
First Generation Audi A4 (1994-2001)
Development for the A4 began in 1988, and the first generation B5 (1994-2001) was born in 1994. First generation engine options include a 2.8L 6-cylinder or a 1.8L 4-cylinder turbo, which was added in 1997. The Tiptronic transmission also made its first debut in the A4. This gearbox allows for fully driven automatic operation or manual selection of the gear ratios. Other transmission options include a 5 or 6-speed manual. Front-wheel drive is standard with Audi’s legendary Quattro all-wheel drive as an option.
Second Generation Audi A4 (2001-2006)
The second generation B6 (2001-2006) hit the Autobahn beginning in late 2000, with an exterior based on the design of the larger Audi A6. A number of new engines debuted during the second generation, including a 3.0L 6-cylinder V6, a 2.0L 4-cylinder turbo and a 3.2L 6-cylinder. A new continuously variable transmission (CVT) was made available, and a cabriolet body style made its debut.
The third generation B7 (2005-2008) features a revised exterior as well as many technological advances. These sleek paradigms of German engineering are available with an infotainment system, advanced electronics such as electronic stability control and much more. Under the hood, the A4 got a newly designed direct injected 2.0L 4-cylinder turbo engine. The CVT transmission gained a “selectable 7-speed” mode and the Tiptronic automatic increased from a 5-speed to a 6-speed.
Fourth and Generation Audi A4 (2008-present)
Last but not least, is the fourth generation B8 (2008-present). This sleek new Audi made its debut at the Frankfurt Auto Show, and has been winning over enthusiasts ever since. The B8 features a longer wheel base, yet it weighs less than the outgoing model. The biggest change is to the transmissions, which now have the differential positioned next to the clutch. In 2011, an 8-speed automatic became available.
It’s been over 20 years since the initial release of the A4 and it’s still as popular as ever, proving Quattro will be chic long into the 21st century.