bmw m3

New Car: 2008 Mercedes C-Class Wagon

Diesel engine overview:

C 200 CDI:

100kW / 136 hp

270 Nm

C 200 CDI:

125 kW / 170 hp

400 Nm

C 320 CDI:
165 kW / 224 hp

510 Nm

Petrol engine overview:

C 180 Kompressor:

115 kW / 156 hp

230 Nm

C200 Kompressor:

135 kW / 184 hp

250 Nm

C 230:

150 kW / 204 hp

245 Nm

C 280:

170 kW / 231 hp

300 Nm

C 350:

200 kW / 272 hp

350 Nm

The new C-Class Estate is also available with the Agility Control package which allows the driver to switch at will between two different suspension set-ups allowing for either a comfortable ride or a sporty one. The shock absorbers are controlled with infinitely variable electronic control, the car is lowered by 15mm and the suspension comes with shorter springs and thicker torsion bars. Also, the optional package includes a six percent more direct steering system and a short-throw six-speed transmission. An AMG sports package is available to which adds an additional sports suspension with shorter springs and firmer shock absorbers, 17 inch alloy wheels and is lowered by 15mm.

Press Release:

Just a few months following the market debut of the saloon, Mercedes-Benz is now unveilling the estate version of the new C-Class. The estate takes the trademark strengths of the saloon, such as safety, agility and comfort, and combines them with a significant increase in spaciousness and versatility. Quite apart from being able to hold a maximum of 1500 litres, giving it a larger load capacity than any other premium-class estate in this market segment, the new C-Class Estate also offers a host of handy features for easy loading and safe transportation -a tailgate which opens and closes automatically at the push of a button, for example. Compared to the outgoing model, the new Mercedes estate burns as much as twelve per cent less fuel. With an official NEDC consumption of 6.0 litres/100 km, the new C 200 CDI can make a single tank of fuel (66 litres) last for over 1000 kilometres. Just like the saloon, the estate version of the new C-Class has also been awarded an Environmental Certificate, which attests to the environmentally oriented development process as conforming with the international ISO standard. In terms of safety, the new estate blazes a trail with innovations of the likes of PRE-SAFE® and the Intelligent Light System, and distinguishes itself as the safest car in this vehicle class. Seven airbags, belt tensioners and belt force limiters, as well as crash-responsive NECK-PRO head restraints all make up part of the standard specification.

The new estate adopts the C-Class Saloon's customer-focused concept for the design and equipment lines. There is a choice of three models - CLASSIC, ELEGANCE and AVANTGARDE - which highlight the vehicle's comfort or agility to differing degrees. The AVANTGARDE line features a large Mercedes star positioned in the centre of the radiator grille that emphasises its sporty, agile nature. This traditional distinctive mark of sporty models from Mercedes is now being employed in an estate model for the first time by the Stuttgart-based automotive brand. In the ELEGANCE model, a three-dimensional, louvred radiator grille with a high-gloss paint finish accentuates other brand-typical attributes such as comfort and luxury. The CLASSIC model, meanwhile, is deliberately more restrained and traditional.

New benchmark figure: maximum load capacity of 1500 litres:

During the concept phase for the new estate, the designers and engineers at Mercedes took the expectations of the brand's customers as their yardstick. Consequently, spaciousness, versatility and functionality were given top priority. Compared to its predecessor, the rear of the new estate is slanted far more steeply, a crucial factor for enlarging the vehicle's load volume. This now varies between 485 and 1500 litres (VDA measuring method), depending on the position of the 1/3 : 2/3 split-folding rear seat -- more than any of the model's rivals in this class of premium estate car are able to offer. Measured against the outgoing C-Class Estate, load capacity has been increased by as much as 146 litres.

This makes the estate a thoroughly practical vehicle in every respect. It is able to accommodate, for example, four golf bags including trolleys, nine large packing cases or a total of 44 drinks crates each containing six 1-litre juice bottles. The largest possible cuboid that fits into the load compartment now has a volume of 827 litres - that is an increase of 66 litres compared to the previous model andbetween 50 and 100 litres more than other premium estate models in this class are able to handle. The maximum utilisable interior length is a whole 2.82 metres, as measured between the tailgate and the front passenger footwell - 17 centimetres more than previously.

Convenient loading: EASY-PACK tailgate and load-securing kit:

Thanks to a host of practical details, the new Mercedes estate can be loaded more easily, more conveniently and more safely. For instance, two bag hooks and four rings for anchoring loads are included in the load compartment as standard.

Stowage compartments with net covers and a collapsible shopping crate can likewise be found in all models, as can the combined luggage cover and retaining net. The new EASY-PACK tailgate opens and closes as the push of a button, representing a first in this segment. Finally, the optional EASY-PACK load-securing kit presents drivers with even more possibilities for both partitioning the load compartment -- that measures around 1.80 metres long and up to 1.20 metres wide -- and for securing the load being carried.

The new C-Class Estate also makes a perfectly good towing vehicle and, indeed, offers a class-beating towing capacity of as much as 1800 kilograms. The self-levelling suspension that is optionally available keeps the vehicle at a constant ride height regardless of the load it is carrying.

Accredited environmental protection: a twelve per cent cut in fuel consumption:

Environmental considerations played a key role in the development of the Mercedes-Benz C-Class from the very start. This is corroborated by the Environmental Certificate that was awarded by the TÜV Technical Inspection Authority in Germany. Mercedes-Benz is the only automotive brand in the world to have obtained a certificate under the terms of ISO standard 14062 for environmentally acceptable product development.With brand new or redeveloped engines under the bonnet offering greater power and torque, the C-Class Estate consumes up to twelve per cent less fuel than previously. The four-cylinder power units were the focus of the development work: in the case of the C 180 KOMPRESSOR and C 200 KOMPRESSOR petrol models Mercedes-Benz modified the engine management and fitted a more dynamic supercharger and improved pistons to boost output by 10 kW/13 hp and 15 kW/20 hp respectively. At the same time, the fuel consumption figures for the two models could be cut by as much as 10.3 per cent to 7.7 and 7.8 litres/100 kilometres.

Mercedes-Benz also gave the four-cylinder diesel engines a thorough overhaul too, making improvements not only to the injection system, the turbocharger and the intercooler but to more than 90 other components too. The upshot is engines delivering more power and higher torque, combined with fuel consumption that is around twelve per cent lower. The new C 220 CDI now has an output of 125 kW/170 hp (previously: 110 kW/150 hp) and musters up 400 Newton metres of peak torque (previously: 340 Newton metres) from 2000 rpm. Fuel consumption on the NEDC driving cycle comes in at just 6.1 litres for every 100 kilometres (previously: 6.9 l/100 km).

In the new C 200 CDI, power has been upped by eleven per cent (100 kW/136 hp instead of 90 kW/122 hp before) and fuel consumption is 6.0 litres/100 kilometres (previously 6.8 l/100 km).

As for the six-cylinder engine range, there is a choice of three petrol units developing 150 kW/204 hp, 170 kW/231 hp and 200 kW/272 hp, as well as the new C 320 CDI with an output of 165 kW/224 hp. With the exception of the C 350, all engine variants are coupled to a six-speed manual transmission. The C 350 is partnered by the 7G-TRONIC seven-speed automatic transmission.

Sporty agility: shock absorbers that change with the driving situation:

The unique blend of agility and comfort that forms one of the exceptional strengths of the new C-Class is basically down to the standard-fit AGILITY CONTROL package. This features shock absorbers which automatically adapt to the current driving situation for a noticeable improvement in ride comfort when driving normally. As soon as a more dynamic driving style is adopted, on the other hand, the maximum damping forces are set to stabilise the estate effectively .A steering system that is six per cent more direct and a short-throw six-speed manual transmission also form part of the AGILITY CONTROL package.

The dynamic handling package that is available as an option bestows the new C-Class Estate with a degree of agility worthy of out-and-out sports cars. The driver is able to choose from two drive modes which determine the fundamental suspension characteristic: Comfort and Sport.

Within these modes, the shock absorbers at each wheel are regulated by means of an infinitely variable electronic control. What's more, the body is lowered by 15 millimetres and the suspension equipped with shorter springs and thicker torsion bars. The dynamic handling package also encompasses the new speed-sensitive power steering with a more direct ratio and variable centring.

The body index devised by engineers at Mercedes clearly illustrates just how agilely the new C-Class Estate performs out on the road. This index is calculated from the readings for various driving manoeuvres, thereby forming a new composite formula for a vehicle's dynamic handling abilities. The larger the body index, the better the suspension is linked to the body and the firmer the suspension's tuning. The standard AGILITY CONTROL suspension gives the C-Class a body index of 1.91 to 2.01 hertz, while the new model attains sports-car-like values of up to 2.46 hertz with the dynamic handling package fitted.Kitting out the new estate with the AMG sports package adds a sports suspension with shorter springs and firmer shock absorbers to the specification, along with 17-inch light-alloy wheels. The body is also dropped by 15 millimetres.

Hallmark Mercedes quality: the safest car in its class:

The C-Class Estate has come through an exhaustive programme of testing, during which it demonstrated its typical Mercedes-like levels of safety in over 100 crash tests in all. The occupant protection concept is underpinned by an intelligently designed bodyshell, 70 percent of which consists of high-strength and ultra-high-strength grades of steel. The front-end structure comprises four impact levels which act independently of one another and enable forces to be distributed over a wide area while bypassing the passenger cell. The occupants are protected by a total of seven airbags as standard. The driver, front passenger and the passengers on the outer rear seats also benefit from belt tensioners and belt force limiters.

The NECK-PRO head restraints in the front have a crash-responsive design, meaning that they move to cushion the heads of the driver and front passenger at an early stage in a rear-end collision to guard against the risk of whiplash. The integrated child seats, which fold out of the rear bench seat have undergone further development and are now also fitted with a wraparound head restraint.

Standard features such as the flashing brake lights, Brake Assist and Electronic Stability Program make vital contributions to accident prevention. The ESP® system now incorporates additional functions: not only does it monitor the tyre pressure it also helps to enhance safety when towing a trailer with an automatic trailer stabilisation function.The anticipatory occupant protection system PRE-SAFE® gives the new estate the edge over other models in this segment. This optional system makes use of the time before an imminent accident to prepare the vehicle and its occupants for a collision. The result is a considerable reduction in the loads exerted on the passengers upon impact. The Intelligent Light System is another technical innovation borrowed from the higher-end models in the Mercedes range and is the only system of its kind in this market segment at the current time. The system's five different lighting functions are each suited to various typical driving and weather conditions.

Excellent comfort on long journeys: newly developed seats and air conditioning system:
Inside, the attractively styled dashboard, the high-class materials and appealing colour schemes create a homely atmosphere. For the first time, the colour concept has been extended to the load compartment too. On CLASSIC and ELEGANCE models, the customer's selected appointments colour is used for both the carpeting and the side trim. On the AVANTGARDE line, the rear compartment is carpeted in black too. Newly developed seats, which can be specified with a multicontour function as an option, as well as a powerful air conditioning system add to the estate's excellent comfort on long journeys.

The new estate from Mercedes-Benz is the first model in this class to offer the option of individually adjustable three-zone climate control and the expansive panoramic sliding sunroof can be found on the list of optional extras for an estate car for the first time too.

The colour display in the centre of the dashboard is linked up to the controller on the tunnel console. This is where the driver can operate the audio and navigation systems or the telephone. A clear menu control structure makes it simple to access all of these functions and more besides.

Alternatively, there are the direct selection keys in the centre console: the car radio, CD/ DVD player, navigation system or telephone can be switched on at the push of a button. Subsequent operating steps are performed using the controller in unison with the colour display in the dashboard.

State-of-the-art technology: voice-controlled infotainment devices:

Mercedes-Benz developed three new infotainment units for the C-Class: Audio 20, Audio 50 APS and COMAND APS. They all feature a keypad for entering telephone numbers and radio frequencies, as well as a Bluetooth interface which allows mobile phones to be connected wirelessly to the hands-free system. The Audio 50 APS system also comprises pan-European DVD navigation using arrow symbols for route guidance. With the COMAND APS multimedia system, the navigation data is stored on a hard disc. A high-resolution map which can be viewed from different perspectives appears on the tilting colour display. The COMAND APS also comprises a DVD player, along with a music server for storing up to 1000 tracks.The LINGUATRONIC voice control system is automatically included on C-Class Estate models equipped with the Audio 50 APS plus the six-disc DVD changer or with the COMAND APS system. For the first time, the new improved system is now able to recognise whole-word commands when entering a destination, selecting a radio station or calling up a name from the telephone directory. The driver no longer needs to spell out the names of countries, towns or roads, for example, but is able to speak them as whole words instead.
Following its public premiere at the International Motor Show in Frankfurt/Main, motorists will be able to place their orders for the new C-Class Estate with Mercedes-Benz sales and service outlets and dealerships from September 2007.

New Car: 2008 Lancia Musa Facelift

The New Musa will make its debut with a world preview in Venice. Successor to a winning model that in three years has won the hearts of many European motorists (in 2006 and 2007 it was Italy's best-selling compact MPV), the new car will again be a winner by offering the motoring world all the values of true Italian friendliness. It sets out to recreate a typical Italian atmosphere shape and content-wise, a mix of elegance and informality, punctilious yet disarming, luxury with a naturalness that makes everyone feel at ease. In short, the New Musa is the Italian option in the modern European compact scene, embodying concepts of good taste, warmth and generosity.

New styling in terms of elegance and functionality:

The New Musa has been restyled and is now even more up-to-date and attractive thanks to a number of styling cues that reflect the very latest market trends. And, in fact, this refined new look gives the car a greater size impression that target customers will certainly find attractive, given that in addition to an elegant, refined shape they can also appreciate improved functionality and space. Designed at the Lancia Style Centre, this model draws heavily on the classic canons of Lancia styling reinterpreted in a modern key consistent with trends in styling found in the premium car segment.

The front end has been enhanced with a number of chrome features underlining the new stylistic imprint while at the same time emphasising the model's impression of dynamism, an element that will be a key design feature for future Lancia cars. In the centre of the elegant chromed grille is the new Lancia logo, one that is reminiscent of the past but interpreted in a modern key, as is appropriate for a brand projected towards future challenges but at the same time proud of its traditional identity.

The very same harmony and stylistic consistency can be seen in the completely redesigned rear section. Perfectly in line with the new approach adopted at the front, the generously sized hatch is today an even more important feature providing two substantial improvements over the previous model. First, the luggage compartment is 70 litres larger while the loading deck has been lowered by 4 centimetres, making it easier to stow bags and suitcases. And again at the rear, the New Musa boasts new technological LED lights that, compared to traditional bulb-lit units, are more luminous and therefore safer, apart from aesthetic considerations.

Lastly, in addition to being enhanced by brand-new alloy wheels, the extremely elegant, clean-lined side surfaces have a new chromed moulding in which the outstanding feature is the Lancia logo mounted as if it were a real gemstone. The rounded lines and non-angular shape emphasise the cabin's friendly, protective nature, a ‘shrine’ promising safety and maximum comfort despite its compact size: it is only just over 4 metres long, 1.70 metres wide, 1.66 metres in height and with a wheelbase of 2.51 metres. So even though it is now longer, the New Musa is still a compact car outside, but with all the space of a flagship model inside.

In line with that unmistakable Lancia style seen in recent years, the New Musa offers drivers and passengers an environment marked by a combination of emotion and functionality, thanks to the modular seats that can be adjusted to suit many different positions. These sensations are also heightened by special attention to detail, the use of top-quality materials and creation of refined colour combinations between bodywork tints and interiors.

Then, like a tailor-made suit, customers can choose their very own personalised New Musa. In fact there are more than 80 combinations created by permutating 5 different interior trims (Argento, Oro and Platino, the last two are available in two different colour tones, warm and cold) with 14 different body colours (10 of which are completely new) and 4 new 'two-tone' liveries: this is the widest choice offered in its segment and testifies to the importance Lancia places on colour as a hallmark of Italian styling.

And last but not least, colours used for the interiors are the result of studies to match tones with materials: so customers will find technical materials, prestigious leathers and refined Alcantara®, while chromed and satin-finished features embellish interior lines and shapes. So Lancia again emphasises its tradition for craftsmanship as far as interiors are concerned, also thanks to new and original combinations of materials and colours, evidence of the brand's efforts to revisit one of its symbolic values in a modern key.

Cutting-edge technology for maximum comfort and driving pleasure:

Travelling in a New Musa is always an exciting and pleasurable experience, due also to the luminosity created by its 'GranLuce' transparent roof, the airiness of the environment, pleasantness of surfaces and the wrap-around comfort of the ergonomic seats. Furthermore, the two-zone climate control and Bose Sound System® (typical Lancia features) make for an especially pleasant interior, a space that is easy to dominate thanks to the raised driving position and ergonomic controls. Without forgetting that the New Musa 1.4 16v and 1.3 Multijet 16v models can be fitted with a DFN robotised gearbox for optimum comfort and driving pleasure.

In addition, the New Musa can be equipped with 'Blue&Me'®, the system that enables drivers to telephone and listen to music in a simple, safe manner while they are at the wheel, thanks to a 'voice-recognition system' and Bluetooth® technology (this feature includes a USB port located on the tunnel to which any type of digital device can be connected). Lastly, to ensure increased well-being on board, the New Musa adopts the best available soundproofing materials, for instance, the new soundproofed roof lining that reduces noise by about 2 db, a noticeable improvement that customers will appreciate.

The engine range available ensures just the right balance between performance, fuel consumption and respect for the environment: 100 bhp 1.9 Multijet, 70 bhp 1.3 Multijet and 90 bhp 1.3 Multijet turbodiesel units (the latter is available with a particulate trap), in addition to two petrol versions, a 77 bhp 1.4 and 95 bhp 1.4 units, with either mechanical or DFN robotised sequential gearboxes (depending on the engine).

Mitsubishi cX concept in metal

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Nissan Mixim concept to be unveiled at Frankfurt

The Mixim concept car is a compact vehicle for young drivers who are mostly engaged by their computer and the world via the internet. The driver sits centrally, with two seats either side, while the steering wheel and controls are inspired by the interfaces so familiar to computer gamers.

Powered by Nissan’s ‘Super Motor’ electric motor/generator and using compact lithium-ion batteries, Mixim has unusually rapid performance combined with a usefully extended range. One Super Motor powers the front axle and a second drives the rear axle, giving Mixim all-wheel drive.

Mixim takes the most up-to-date electric vehicle (EV) technology and clothes it in a svelte and distinctive coupé shape. Its wraparound windscreen, inspired by the visor of a crash helmet, dominates the profile while the swept back windscreen, flowing roofline and sharply truncated rear hints at sporting performance unexpected from an electric vehicle.

Diamond-shaped styling cues feature inside and out, notably on the twin air intakes to the rear of the doors and the front LED driving lights, while an upper triangular side window links the gentle slope of the roof with the dramatic angular slash that runs through the centre of the doors. The rear hatch opens to reveal a large trunk area behind the three seats. An occasional fourth seat is also housed behind the front seat module.
Sitting on a 2530mm wheelbase, Mixim is 3700mm long, 1800mm wide and 1400mm high, the Mixim is shorter and lower than Micra, though slightly wider. It weighs just 950kg.

Despite being a concept car with no guarantee of being turned into a series production model, Mixim’s development is in line with the Nissan Green Program, the company’s publicly stated desire to create a more sustainable mobile society.Throughout the show, the Mixim will be driving from a low stage via a ramp to an elevated display platform on the Nissan stand.

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New Car: 2007 Subaru Impreza WRX

The saga of the new Subaru Impreza WRX model rumbles on. First they tell us they’re not going to sell it in the UK; then they tell us they will. And now there’s another in the tale; it seems you can have a proper WRX model if you’re a UK buyer, but only if you’re quick enough out of the blocks.

The new 227bhp, 236 lb ft, five-door Impreza WRX will go on sale this November, as reported, but in very limited numbers. Subaru will bring in just 350 examples of the car in the first year of its life, and only 1000 in all. That should make it rarer than the more expensive £30k STi model, which launches here in Spring 2008 and will be available in unlimited numbers.
The other WRX

If you miss out on one of those hen’s-teeth-like petrol-powered WRX models, though, there’s always the increasingly promising possibility that you’ll be able to buy a diesel WRX – a WRD, as it could be badged – before the end of the new Impreza’s lifecycle.

According to British Importers the IM Group, Subaru is on the brink of signing up to produce a version of the warm Impreza fitted with its new 2.0-litre flat four turbodiesel engine. If our estimations are correct, that should make for a version of the Impreza with around 160bhp, some 260lb ft or torque, and capable of a 40mpg average.

Fiat Croma goes under the knife

No your eyes aren't deceiving you, this is the Fiat Croma facelift and not the Bravo station wagon. The hatchback cum MPV has been on sale in the European market since 2005 and it failed in the UK market were Fiat had hoped it would sell well although Croma's are still available in the UK through official Fiat dealers.

The facelift will be extensive so the front fascia will be similar to the recently launched Fiat Bravo Hatchback. Its still unknown if the engines will be tweaked.

Expected to see the facelifted Croma at the upcoming Geneva Motorshow.

More 2008 Hyundai "BH"

Recently caught hot-weather testing in Death Valley alongside the upcoming Hyundai Tiburon/Coupé, Hyundai Sonata facelift, more Hyundai "BH" prototypes and the Kia Mesa its unlikely the "BH" will come into the UK due to the poor sales of the Granduer/Azera but if it does come over, its likely to come in small numbers.

Check our the archive to see some more pictures.

2008 Nissan Altima Hybrid recieves new price tag

The jockeying for the sweet spot in the hybrid-sedan-pricing strategy continued among the Japanese automakers on Monday, as Nissan announced a modest price hike on the 2008 Altima Hybrid. The car is on sale now.

The 2008 Altima Hybrid will start at $25,695, including a $625 destination charge, undercutting its rival the 2008 Toyota Camry by $165 and that's despite the fact that Toyota slashed $1,000 off the Camry Hybrid's sticker price for the new model year. A fully loaded 2008 Altima Hybrid tops out at just over $39,000.

The 2008 Altima Hybrid looks identical to the outgoing model. Changes are modest and include standard mud-flaps and a Diversity ariel. Options on the '08 Altima Hybrid include a $6,400 technology package, an $850 power moonroof and a $1,300 convenience package.

Car pictured is the 2007 model

New Car: 2008 Audi A4 Sedan

You’re looking at the first official pictures of the new, fourth-generation Audi A4, a car that Ingolstadt is hoping can steal even more of the European junior executive market from BMW and Mercedes, with a mix of improved dynamics, evolutionary design and a cheaper entry-level price tag. Behind its familiar design, the new Audi A4 features new underpinnings, advanced engine technology and the latest safety features. The new premium saloon will make its debut at the Frankfurt motor show in two weeks and will go on sale in the UK in January 2007.Prices on this new A4 remain under wraps for the moment, but we can confirm the starting price will be under £20,000, making it cheaper than today’s entry-level 1.8T at £21,350.

Audi has placed a heavy emphasis on dynamics with the new A4 in a bid to challenge BMW’s 3-series and the Mercedes C-class, while continuing to fend off more affordable but improving rivals such as the Volvo S60 and Saab 9-3. It will be available with Audi’s Drive Select, which allows the driver to tailor up to 24 suspension, steering assistance and transmission response settings to his own taste. At the heart of the new car is Audi’s modular longitudinal platform (MLP), as used beneath the mechanically identical A5 Coupé. Supporting both front-wheel drive and four-wheel drive, MLP moves the front axle 154mm further forward than that of the outgoing model, and adds widened tracks to provide the new A4 with what Audi describes as a “vastly improved weight distribution”.

The suspension — a mixture of a four-link arrangement at the front and multi-links at the rear — is made almost entirely from aluminium, which helps to reduce weight. Despite the fact that the new car is larger all round, Audi claims the weight of the bodyshell has been cut by 10 per cent.Subtly tweaked design:Audi’s designers have not attempted to do anything new with the A4’s exterior, which takes cues from the A5; the A4 will be built alongside its coupé sibling at Audi’s Ingolstadt headquarters. The Bauhaus-inspired lines of the outgoing A4 have been replaced by an edgier appearance first hinted at on the Walter de’Silva-penned Nuvolari concept in 2004, and now reflected on just about every Audi model. The new A4 inherits a conservative, evolutionary look, therefore. Highlights include a prominent single-frame grille, LED sidelights, a heavy shoulder line and a convex treatment to the rear end – but nothing we haven’t already seen from the brand.At 4703mm long and 1826mm wide, the new Audi A4 is 118mm longer and 56mm wider than the outgoing car. It also rides on a wheelbase that has grown by 168mm in all, to 2808mm — just 37mm shorter than the A6. The drag coefficient of 0.27 is the lowest in the Audi line-up, due partly to tighter shutlines that improve the airflow over the car.

The new A4’s cabin architecture — including the dashboard, switchgear and instruments — is shared with the A5, and offers an electrically operated handbrake, automatic air conditioning and six airbags as standard. Audi’s MMI (multi-media interface) will be optional, together with sat-nav.

Although the engine and other ancillaries have been moved back in the body for improved weight distribution, Audi says the length of the cabin has grown by 20mm, with rear kneeroom extending by 36mm, thanks partly to the rear bench being set further back in the wheelbase. Boot space has grown by 20 litres, the saloon now offering 480 litres.

At the A4’s launch, two direct-injection petrol engines will be offered in the UK. The first — a turbocharged 1.8-litre four-cylinder TFSI — produces 168bhp and 184lb ft. Audi claims 0-62mph in 8.6sec, a top speed of 140mph and 40mpg. Above it is a 3.2-litre V6 with 261bhp and 243lb ft, propelling the A4 from 0-60mph in 6.2sec and up to 155mph. But it’s the trio of diesel models that are expected to capture the majority of A4 sales in the UK. Among them is a new 2.0-litre four-cylinder common-rail engine that replaces the old 1.9-litre pumpe düse unit. With 141bhp and 236lb ft of torque from 1750rpm, it covers 0-60mph in 9.4sec, tops out at 134mph and averages 50mpg for a range exceeding 650 miles. It will also have the lowest CO2 emissions in the range, with 144g/km. Future models will improve on this figure. The other two diesels are a 2.7-litre V6 with 187bhp and 295lb ft, and a reworked version of today’s 3.0-litre V6, offering 236bhp and a heady 369lb ft. The most powerful petrol and diesel engines get four-wheel drive; the diesel uses an updated version of Audi’s “torsen” centre differential that directs 40 per cent of the drive to the front wheels and 60 per cent to the rear. Audi has also reworked its standard six-speed manual gearbox for the new A4. It now comes with a shift indicator on the dashboard displaying optimal shift points. Other transmissions include a six-speed automatic and Audi’s Multitronic CVT.

Following the saloon’s UK launch (the order book opens on 11 September, before the car is unveiled at the Frankfurt motor show), the A4 range will expand next year with the Avant, due in the UK next April. But we won’t be getting an A4 cabrio; that car will in effect be replaced by a convertible version of the A5 coupé. And don’t expect a new RS4 any time soon. Audi has repeatedly said it won’t do more than one RS model at a time, and we’re just about to get the new RS6. Audi also tends to wait for two years into a new model’s life cycle before launching an RS model, so an RS4 saloon wouldn’t be ready until 2009 at the earliest.

But that tactic could change. Replacing the A4 cabrio with the A5 will result in no RS4 cabrio, a vital model for the U.S market. That could mean an RS5 cabrio and coupé running alongside the RS4 saloon to provide rivals for BMW’s forthcoming M3 saloon and cabrio.

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