The interior of the new A4 is larger than the previous model in virtually every respect. It is 20 mm longer at 1,758 mm, 10 mm wider at 1,410 mm and has a rear-seat width at shoulder height of 1,380 mm - an increase of 23 mm. Legroom is now 908 mm, a useful 29 mm more than before.
SE models feature a front centre armrest that can be moved forward and back and varied in height. It includes a storage compartment and two useful 12V power sockets. 12-millimetre thick foam padding gives the centre armrest a pleasantly soft surface. The armrest’s generous proportions have been made possible by the electromechanical parking brake, which liberates the space which would once have been occupied by the conventional handbrake lever.
The optional climate comfort seats in the front are the highlight of the seating range. Their extensive technical features, controlled in this case via the MMI operating system, introduce all the luxury of a larger saloon model to the A4. They are upholstered in perforated leather and have small fans with six possible speed settings to ventilate the seat back and seat cushion. Seat heating is actuated automatically below a given temperature limit. The electric lumbar support is standard on comfort seats.
The climate comfort seats are upholstered in Milano leather and are available in four colours: black, light grey, cardamom beige and – a new option – mustang brown. The same colours are also available, with the addition of another new shade - luxor beige - if Valcona leather is chosen. The standard seats – upholstered in Cosinus cloth in the SE model - can also be upholstered in these grades of leather. The optional sports seats feature Empore cloth (black or pale grey) as standard, and are also available with a wide choice of leathers, plus the addition of a leather and Alcantara mix upholstery.
To supplement the wide range of personalisation options available from the price list, Audi styling and engineering subsidiary quattro GmbH also offers the Audi exclusive programme, incorporating an array of options in numerous colour schemes, as well as the possibility to create a completely bespoke exterior look using virtually any colour selected by the customer.
For the new A4, the designers opted for a lighter finish for the upper portion of the dashboard, creating a brighter overall environment. A new aluminium inlay with a hologram look is standard for UK SE models, with three types of wood – Walnut brown, Laurel nutmeg and Fine grain ash almond beige – available as options. Depending on the version chosen, the roof lining is in linen beige, black or star silver. The standard door sills have a polished aluminium finish.
When S line specification is chosen, the interior and roof lining are in black, the floor mats have coloured piping and the seats are upholstered in a combination of cloth and leather. The door and side panel trim material matches the seat centre sections; the inlays are in matt brushed aluminium.
The brake pedal is mounted lower than before in relation to the accelerator - at 35 mm instead of 50 mm, so that the enthusiastic driver can shift his foot from one to the other more rapidly.
The air conditioning system is an entirely new development, with ten per cent more cooling power than the previous version and 20 per cent higher operating efficiency. As a result, the new system not only draws less power, and therefore has a reduced impact on fuel consumption, but is also lighter at just 9.4 kilograms. UK SE versions of the new A4 are equipped with the deluxe automatic air conditioning system, which regulates the air temperature, airflow volume and air distribution separately in three zones for the driver, the front passenger and the rear-seat area.
In addition to the Driver’s Information System screen located between the two primary dials, a further large 6.5-inch display is located in the upper part of the centre console, level with the instrument cluster. Both screens are colour in SE models. The large monitor displays information from the audio and air conditioning systems and provides a means of configuring the CAR menu settings, enabling the customer to use the radio controls to change various lighting and locking functions.
If the new Audi A4 is ordered with the optional DVD-based Satellite Navigation system Plus, the MMI (Multi Media Interface) operating system on the centre tunnel is also supplied. 15 large pushbuttons and a volume control are grouped around a central rotary pushbutton. They are used to select the navigation, information, CAR menu, set-up, telephone, directory, CD/TV and radio functions in a convenient and intuitive way. All information is shown on the large monitor, which is increased in size to seven inches.
Close to the MMI buttons is another large switch that controls the new electromechanical parking brake, another system adopted from the large luxury-car market and already fitted to the A8. Like the conventional handbrake, the parking brake’s initial function is to prevent the car from rolling away, but it also has a number of additional functions.
The integral drive-off assistant supports the driver by releasing the parking brake at precisely the right moment when the car is set in motion. On uphill gradients, it prevents the car from rolling back. There is also an emergency brake function that brings the A4 to a standstill at a rate of no less than eight metres per second – scarcely less than a full brake application – if the conventional brake system should fail.
Audi Hill-Hold assist is available as an optional extra. Once activated, it provides assistance for the duration of the journey. It extends the functions of the drive-off assistant by aiding the driver when at a standstill, in stop-and-go traffic and when setting the car in motion. After braking to a standstill, the device prevents the A4 from moving by means of brief impulses from the hydraulic brake system.
If the available brake-system pressure is not sufficient, two further demands are issued by the ESP, after which the assistant activates the parking brake. To drive off smoothly on a gradient, all the driver needs to do is to engage the clutch. This is detected by a sensor at the pedal. The computer assesses the selected gear, the gradient angle and the engine data and determines when the brakes should be released as the car starts to move.
The radio-operated key for the A4 is a totally new development. It has no projecting teeth and therefore cannot damage clothing. To start the engine, the clutch or brake pedal is depressed and the key simply pressed into the ignition lock. The new intelligent key memorises service information and fault messages which are of importance to the workshop. This simplifies and speeds up the reception procedure when the A4 is brought in for servicing work.
The A4 is also available with an advanced key option, which enables the driver to leave the key in his or her pocket and instead to start the engine via a button on the centre tunnel. The locks are released by the sensor as soon as the driver touches a door handle or the boot release button, and secured again by briefly pressing a button.
A4 S line models feature high-tech xenon plus headlights, which can also be combined with the adaptive light cornering system. In both cases dynamic headlight range control is an integral feature.Published 9 February 2008