by Jay Traugott
Believe it or not, it’s been four years since the current generation Audi A4 debuted and a lot has happened since. Longtime rivals, mainly the all-new BMW 3 Series, have hit the market and newcomers include the highly regarded Genesis G70. Audi had to do something to keep its A4 relevant. Instead of an outright redesign, the German automaker chose to do a major facelift for model year 2020. Will this be enough to keep the A4 sedan in the game? Given the extent of the updates inside and out, all indicators point to ‘yes’. While an outright redesign would have been our preferred choice, this facelifted A4 has much to offer.
The A4 is sold as both a sedan and as a wagon, called the A4 Avant, but it’s for Europe only. The US instead has the A4 Allroad, which features an increased ride height and some additional body cladding for a more SUV-like look. The more performance-oriented S4 sedan is also included with the refresh.
While the overall styling is modern Audi, the 2020 A4’s body panels are completely new. The sole carryovers are the hood, roof, and trunk. The restyled front end incorporates a wider grille that’s been lowered in order to help create a more aggressive look. This is further augmented by larger air intakes at both sides of the bumper. In fact, the new grille can be ordered with three unique design patterns, horizontal slats for base models, vertical slats for the Allroad, and a honeycomb pattern for the S line and S4.
Also take note of the LED headlights that have been grouped together in clusters starting at the top of the light’s housing. This is now standard for all A4s. The taillights also receive this new look. There’s also a new rear bumper.
But the most important update is the all-new sheetmetal. Previously, the A4 lineup had fairly conservative, "play it safe” styling. This time around, Audi went bolder, with a side profile incorporating straight character lines over the wheel arches, which then break to form a lower beltline that connects the door handles.
Audi is known for its high-quality interiors with impeccable build materials and immaculate fit and finish. This has not changed with the 2020 A4. Although the general design layout is very similar to last year, the updated sedan features a new and larger infotainment screen measuring 10.1-inches wide. Look carefully and you’ll notice the instrument panel has been slightly tilted toward the driver. Needless to say, that big screen takes up more space on the dashboard. A new MMI touch display allows for a more user-friendly experience when using a smartphone.
Audi’s highly regarded all-digital virtual cockpit also gets an upgrade. It features a massive 12.3-inch gauge display with full HD resolution using the multifunction steering wheel. There’s also a head-up display directly in front of the driver with additional information. An abundance of high-end materials including leather, Alcantara, and metal trim are available once again.
Because Audi has only released details for the European-spec 2020 A4, we can’t confirm just yet which engines American will receive. We can make some educated guesses, however. For starters, rule out any diesel options for obvious reasons.
More than likely, the base engine will continue to be the turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder which produces 188 hp and 236 lb-ft of torque on front-wheel-drive models. The upgraded Quattro all-wheel-drive version sees power increase to 236 hp and 273 lb-ft. A seven-speed S tronic dual-clutch transmission is standard. With this engine and transmission combination, expect a 0-60 mph time of 5.7 seconds for Quattro models.
The most significant engine upgrade for 2020 is the addition of 48-volt mild hybrid electrification. Audi claims this will provide even great efficiency than the previous 12-volt MHEV system. Chances are, however, this will be limited to the high-performance, Europe-only S4 TDI sedan. It remains to be seen whether this mild-hybrid technology will make its way to American shores.
Audi has only announced European pricing details but we don’t foresee major changes from 2019. The current A4 2.0T Premium begins at $37,400. For comparison, the new BMW 330i, also powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four, begins at just over $40,000. Expect Audi to price its 2020 A4 competitively.
Without question, yes. The Audi A4 has been one of the German automaker’s best-sellers for years thanks to its performance, luxury, and general packaging. Last year, for example, a total of 34,311 units were sold, though this figure combines both the A4 and S4. For comparison, a total of 44,579 BMW 3 Series units were sold in that same period, but this number takes into account the sedan, GT, and wagon.
Given the fact that the Audi A4 has been around since the 1995 model year, its nameplate is well-established in the always competitive compact luxury sports sedan segment.