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25 years of A4: The Car That Turned Audi Into A Giant

The story actually began in the 1960s and includes people like Peter Schreyer

Just a quarter of a century ago, the assembly line in Ingolstadt set the first copy of the best-selling Audi cars in history: A4. But the truth is that the story of a compact sedan with four interlaced rings extends far behind 1994 and is related to the no less worthy predecessor of the A4 – the Audi 80. And because these are the models that have made the modest ever-company in one of the three giants of the premium segment, it is worth remembering the history of the most important Audi.

Audi F103 (1966-1972)

For the first time, the Audi 80 was introduced in 1966, but it is not a separate model, but just one of the Audi F103 varieties. Which in turn is just a slightly upgraded version of the older F102, produced under the DKW brand. However, it is not a two-stroke, but a four-stroke engine developed jointly with Daimler-Benz.

Audi 80 B1 (1972-1978)

This is the first “real” Audi, fully developed by the company (chief engineer Ludwig Kraus calls the previous F103 “bastard”). It is also full of novelty, ranging from the four-cylinder EC827 engine – subsequently transformed into the best-selling Volkswagen engine of all time, surpassing even the Beetle air-cooled engine. With an innovative braking system, a radically new steering system, and an impressively low weight, the first 80s are so demanding that VW’s parent company offers its own production line in Wolfsburg to meet demand.

Audi 80 B2 (1978-1986)

By design, created by the genius Giorgetto Giugiaro, the second generation of the Audi 80 has stepped on a new platform, and then served on other models, led by the VW Passat and Santana (Santana same, which continue to be made in China until 2012). This is the first direct-injection Audi, and, since 1983, the first Audi civilian with four-wheel drive – the Quattro. Price also grows, gradually shifting the pattern from the mass family segment to the compact premium.

Audi 80 B3 (1986-1992)

The third generation breaks the connection with the Passat and steps on its own platform. This is Audi’s first full-galvanized chassis – Audi’s trademark and the innovative design of American Jay Mays (today’s Whirlpool designer) allow it to break the record for the lowest aerodynamic drag. In 1987 appeared the first version 90 – with a five-cylinder inline engine.

Audi 80 B4 (1991-1996)

It can be argued whether this is a fourth generation or just a more serious facelift. With a longer wheelbase, modified design and a completely redesigned rear suspension, this is Audi’s first compact model, which is totally equivalent to BMW and Mercedes instead of trying to be a more profitable alternative. Appear and new engines – two petrol V6, with volume 2.6 and 2.8 liters, and innovative for those years turbodiesel direct injection engines – 1.9 TDI. From the coupe version, the Audi S2 emblematic sport is born.

Audi A4 B5 (1994-2001)

In the late 1980s, Audi decided to change the name to complete the transition of its compact model to the premium segment. In 1994, the first A4, built on the V45 PL45 platform, which shares with the fourth generation of the Passat, was presented. The design is by Imre Hasanic. The A4 is also the first VW group to receive the innovative 1.8-liter five-valve turbo engine developed by Audi Sport for the Super-Tournament. The first units have some mechanical problems, but overall A4 gets very high marks for quality and remained on the market for 7 years (with a facelift in 1998).

Audi A4 B6 (2001-2006)

The design is now based on Peter Schreyer, the founder of TT (and future president of Hyundai-Kia), and inspired by the Bauhaus architecture of the 1920s. The standard equipment is Bosch’s ESP electronic stabilization system and the electronic brake force distribution EBD. Outdated automatic has been replaced by a continuously variable CVT transmission, developed by LuK, named Multitronic. Because of problems with it in 2013, VW is being sued and offers plaintiffs an out-of-court settlement.

Audi A4 B7 (2004-2009)

Although it gets a new code, it’s basically just a deep B6 facelift with new engines, changed suspension geometry and added more advanced multimedia and navigation. By contrast, interior design and furnishings are virtually unchanged. After the end of the model life of B7, the idea of using the platform and technology to create a more prestigious model for the Seat subsidiary was born. So the third A4 extend life a bit more like the Seat Exeo, but the financial crisis put an end to the venture.

Audi A4 B8 (2008-2016)

Introduced in Frankfurt in 2007, the fourth A4 is already on its own modular platform – the MLB, which has been used for many years only by Audi and Porsche. The new generation has 16 cm longer wheelbase than the previous one and offers much more interior space. In 2009, the first DSG dual-clutch was introduced in the A4, and in 2012 the model undergoes a facelift.

Audi A4 B9 (2016-)

The fifth generation was introduced in June 2015 and remains on the market to this day. It continues the trend of A4 to grow in length, but because of the new platform and innovative materials, it is actually an average of 120 kg(264 lbs) lighter than the previous car. The exterior design is made by Frank Rimili and the interior by Rüdiger Müller. In 2018 the A4 was the world’s best-selling Audi, with over 344,000 units sold. Since the first appearance of the A4, the model has sold over 7.5 million units.

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