THERE’S a new Audi A4 on the way and, true to form for the executive model, despite major revisions on the technical and engineering fronts it looks very similar to the car it replaces.
In fact, Audi has very carefully maintained a family resemblance that can be clearly traced back to the first A4 and even its predecessor, which originally went on sale in 1966.
What name was given to that early model and in what year did Audi replace it with the A4? Scroll down for the answer.
The Audi A4 saloon replaced the Audi 80 in late 1994, with an Avant (estate) version going on sale in early 1996. Although the first A4 closely resembled the final 80 in both bodystyles (see below), underneath it was an all-new car.
1993 Audi 80 Avant
1996 Audi A4 Avant
The introduction of the A8, which debuted at the 1994 Geneva motor show, precipitated the renaming of Audi’s entire range. The A8’s all-aluminium monocoque chassis was a first for mass production cars and “Audi needed a similarly ‘regenerative’ name to distinguish it,” according to a spokesperson.
Marking a fresh start for the Ingolstadt-based company, the Audi 100 followed suit in summer 1994, becoming the A6, and the 80 was replaced by the A4 that winter.
The clear Audi 80 heritage of the A4 is highlighted by the internal designations of the cars. Although the first 80 was based on a car that was known within Audi as the F103, the next in the series was called the B1 (produced from 1972 to 1978), as it represented “year zero” for the model in terms of the engineering, bringing chassis innovations from Audi 100 C1 into the B-segment for the first time.
The B1 was followed by the B2, B3 and B4, and the A4 has continued that naming tradition — the 1994 Audi A4 was designated B5. The new model, which arrives before the end of this year, will be called the B9.
Confusingly, insiders refer to the new Audi A4 as the ninth generation model, despite the fact that the first four in the series weren’t Audi A4s in name, and it ignores the grandfather of the model: the F103. Following Audi’s logic, one could argue that the new A4 is really its 10th generation, but then you might need to get out a bit more.
1966 Audi 80 L (F103)
1972 Audi 80 GL (B1)
1978 Audi 80 GLS (B2)
1986 Audi 80 1.9E (B3)
1992 Audi 80 (B4)
1994 Audi A4 (B5)
2000 Audi A4 (B6)
2004 Audi A4 (B7)
2008 Audi A4 (B8)
2015 Audi A4 (B9)