The all-new 2009 Audi A4 goes on sale this spring. Revealed at the Frankfurt Auto Show, Audi's volume model looks similar to the successful 2005-2008 models it will replace. However, it is a totally new structure packed with new engineering.

The styling of the upcoming model reminds us of skin pulled tighter over the muscles and bones, and it favors the beautiful new A5 coupe.

The upcoming A4 gets an all-new body made of steel that is stiffer and lighter than that of the previous car.

It's a bigger car, almost five inches longer in overall length and more than two inches wider than the outgoing model, and it rides slightly lower. The wheelbase has increased 6.6 inches in length to 110.6 inches, which is only 1.5 inches shorter than the wheelbase of the bigger A6 model. Therefore, overhangs are shorter, which is a sign of solid engineering and theoretically benefiting handling. It also results in a more aggressive appearance.

The new A4 interior has a much larger and roomier back seat area due to the longer wheelbase, but still maintains that distinctive Audi look in the seats, instrument panel, and console.

The 2009 A4 features the first all-new platform for this series since 1995, called MLP for modular longitudinal platform. First used on the A5, the new platform locates the engines almost six inches farther back for better balance. The differential is mounted forward of the gearbox, pushing the centerline of the front wheels closer to the nose. A new Quattro all-wheel-drive system splits torque 40 percent front/60 percent rear, instead of 50/50; this is designed to make the A4 drive more like a rear-wheel-drive car at the limit, rather than like a front-wheel-drive car. The new chassis includes a new and quicker front-mounted power rack-and-pinion steering system. The A4 will come with 17-inch tires and wheels, with 18-inch tires and wheels optional; an S-Line package will include 19-inch wheels and tires and special trim. Audi Drive Select, a new feature, lets the driver choose between comfort, normal, and sport modes, using Delphi magnetic rheological shock absorbers and a network of sensors.

The base engine here in the U.S. market will be a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder with direct fuel injection and variable valve timing and variable valve lift. Final U.S. ratings aren't published yet, but estimates are about 200 horsepower and 220 pound-feet of torque. The optional engine will be the 265-hp 3.2-liter direct injection V6 that comes with a six-speed automatic transmission. Audi says the 3.2 quattro will run 0-60 mph in about six seconds flat, which should make for a quick A4.


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