Sometimes an automaker will present a vehicle based on a “lower” model platform. Typically, this plan is used when costs need to be cut to achieve real savings. The theory is that the shared platform can be modified enough to distinguish the luxury model from the ordinary. Throw in leather, a taut suspension, and upgraded engine options and you can probably pull it off. For Audi, the introduction of the new Audi A4 in the mid-1990s allowed the German automaker to capitalize on the success of the Volkswagen Passat, a midsize car from its European cousin. The plan worked, but it was only a temporary move. Let’s take a look at the Audi A4 and its rise to the top of German automotive excellence.
For years, the Audi 80 defined the smallest cars in the Audi range. In the early 1990s, the old model was in need of an update and the name itself would have to be changed with the double-digit alphanumeric model designation recently adopted by Audi. However, cost pressures made it impossible to develop a completely new model from scratch. Instead, Audi turned to Volkswagen and based the original Audi A4 on the successful VW Passat.
Platform sharing has been common among automakers for generations. General Motors regularly distributes its rigs across brand lines, while Toyota and Honda have learned that their respective Lexus and Acura luxury brands could share a lot with their successful, high-quality standard brands.
Still, Autodom’s wheels are always turning and the original Audi A4 is now in its fourth generation and built on its own platform. In fact, the newer Audi A4 shares nothing with its VW cousin and is ready to battle with the BMW 3 Series, Mercedes C-Class, Volvo S60, and Cadillac’s Swedish-made BLS.
So what do today’s Audi A4 owners get for the money? Quite! Keep reading:
- A selection of three models including a sedan, a wagon and a convertible.
- Two engine options: a 2.0L I4 and a robust 3.2L V6
- Front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive Quattro
- A plethora of transmission options including manual, automatic and manual shifters
- Major safety initiatives including electrically assisted restraint systems, head and side airbags, antilock brakes
- 12-way power driver’s seat
- Leather, aluminum and clothing appointments.
- 10-speaker premium sound system
- 16-inch 5-spoke alloy wheels
Base prices start around $ 28,000 for the sedan and go up to just over $ 37,000 for the convertible; All prices are slightly lower than competitive Mercedes and BMW models.
Fortunately for Audi A4 lovers, the German automaker isn’t standing still and plans for a fifth-generation Audi A4 are underway. The newer model can switch to rear-wheel drive and a coupe is coming under serious scrutiny. Regardless of final decisions, Audi A4 owners know that their favorite model will keep up with the competition. This is great news for those who want a car that incorporates German engineering without the price tag of Mercedes or BMW.