Next-generation Audi A4 caught testing ahead of 2023 launch

Our spies have photographed the new Audi A4 Avant undergoing cold-weather testing before release next year

Audi is due to reveal an all-new Audi A4 next year, equipped with hybrid power, a new design and a revamped interior. We’ve spied the forthcoming Avant estate model during cold-weather testing in Sweden, revealing cleaner, evolutionary styling over the current A4.

The front end has been largely decluttered with a sharper set of headlights and a narrower radiator grille, sitting above a neat lower grille arrangement. There’s a pair of slim vertical cutouts below the headlights, too, while a smooth bonnet replaces the more heavily styled item of the outgoing A4.

The surfacing along the side of the car is cleaner than before, too, without the razor-sharp creases of recent Audi models. This Avant estate features a steeply raked rear window and an integrated roof spoiler for a sportier look – the rudimentary tail lights of this pre-production car will be replaced by a set of LED units for the final car.

New 2023 Audi A4 to stick with petrol and diesel power

The cabin will get a thorough rethink, too. We’re expecting a new dashboard with even fewer physical controls and a redesigned centre console with new toggle gear selectors, as the next A4 will probably only be available with an automatic gearbox.

The biggest changes will happen under the skin, though. The next A4 will stay on the same MLB underpinnings as the current model, but it’ll be powered by a line-up of new combustion engines which Audi’s head of technical development, Oliver Hoffman, describes as “the best [the company] has ever launched”.

Most of the line-up will be based around an updated version of the Volkswagen Group’s omnipresent EA888 turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine. Improvements will include new variable-section turbochargers that claim to improve throttle response and a higher-pressure fuel injection system.

Electrification will play a key role in the A4 range, too. The petrol engine will be offered with 48-volt mild-hybrid technology at the lower end of the line-up and full-blown plug-in hybrid technology towards the upper end of the range. The latter option will probably use the same 14.4kWh battery pack and electric motor as other MLB models, such as the Q5.

Diesel power will also remain, although it’ll probably play second fiddle to Audi’s new-look line-up of electrified petrol engines. The bulk of the diesel range should be based around the same 201bhp turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder unit also found in the Q5 SUV.

Audi could also launch a pure-electric version of the A4 Avant later in the car’s life cycle, which would give the brand somewhat of an edge over the competition. Currently none of the A4’s main rivals have been offered as a pure-electric estate. The focus in this class is currently on saloons, as shown by the BMW i4 and Tesla Model 3.

However, if it does materialise, the pure-electric A4 will probably move to a different platform, because the MLB underpinnings aren’t set up for EV powertrains. It could use either a modified version of the PPE chassis that will sit under the upcoming Q6 e-tron or the Volkswagen Group’s new SSP architecture, which is due to arrive in 2025.

How the Audi A4 has evolved

Audi A4 generations

B5 (1994-01)

The B5 designation issued for the first-generation A4 saw the car continue the lineage started by the Audi 80, making it the fifth generation of Audi compact executive

B6 (2001-06)

Handsome B6 was penned by designers Peter Schreyer and Luc Donckerwolke. It introduced V8 power in the range-topping S4, while the faster RS4 was yet to come.

B7 (2004-07)

There was a short life span for the B7, which was essentially a heavily facelifted B6. Perhaps this is the A4 best remembered by enthusiasts thanks to the storming 414bhp RS4.

B8 (2008-2016)

Audi moved to the MLB platform for the B8-generation A4. A significant increase in wheelbase was joined by the introduction of the first A4 Allroad off-road estate.

B9 (2016-present)

Current B9 introduced significant connectivity and infotainment advances over the B8. Estate-only RS 4 Avant goes without a V8 but turbo six-cylinder has a healthy 444bhp.

What will the new Audi A4 have to beat? These are the best executive cars on sale right now

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