Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Make No Mistake - It's an Audi

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Make No Mistake - It's an Audi

Article excerpt

Byline: By Edward Stephens

WHEN your success as a car maker owes a great deal to one volume model, any dramatic changes are bound to make you nervous.

When you change the car completely there is no room for mistakes.

But in recent times, the word mistake has not been in Audi's vocabulary and the launch of the new A4 is not about to change that.

The new car is packed with innovations, offers more space, better handling and significantly more miles per gallon.

The styling has been changed dramatically. At first glance, you will still pick it out as an A4, but the soft, rolling curves of the existing model have gone, replaced by a more angular design with dynamic lines in the metalwork. The whole thing looks harder, more macho.

This latest generation of the A4 has the longest wheelbase in its class and the expansion has led to the front axle being repositioned further forward than on the current car.

When you sit in the rear seat, the difference is dramatic. At 5ft 8ins tall I could really stretch my legs out compared to sitting with them at right angles in most cars in this class. To quantify it, there is now 36 more mm of leg room in the rear than in the current car.

In recent years, Audi's success with new models has been out of this world, so it's hardly surprising that one of its new innovations on this car comes from the moon.

The optional Dynamic Steering uses a special interference gear set derived from space travel - having been used on the Sojourner and Lunar Rover vehicles on Mars and the moon.

The end result is a steering system which helps get you out of trouble automatically without you realising it when you are about to go into a skid, by counter steering much quicker than you can at the point when you are about to lose the car.

In everyday situations, it also makes parking easier and high speed driving more stable.

Another interesting option is the new Audi Drive Select system which gives the driver the ability to switch from comfort to dynamic, or to an automatic combination of the two at the touch of a button. You can even personalise your selection.

The changes affect everything from shock absorber characteristics and acceleration pedal response to how long the automatic gearbox hangs onto any gear. Opt for dynamic, for example, and the suspension firms up, the steering becomes sharper, and the gears will be held all the way up to the red line if you floor the accelerator.

The cars now come with Audi's Side Assist, which warns you via a light in both side view mirrors when a car is in your blind spot - an innovation first marketed by Volvo.

Then there is the new Lane Assist, which vibrates the steering wheel when you drift out of your lane without signalling - just in case you dozed off. …

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