Audi A4 has A winning Four-mula says CarsIreland's Sinead McCann
New generations of cars can be a bit like Hollywood makeovers.
You have the superficial plastic surgery kind – putting a new face on what is essentially still an old body (think Mickey Rourke) and then you have the Audi kind, where like all true transformations, the changes come from the inside out.
So while the much-anticipated new A4 might not look hugely different to the last one, it's all new where it counts – with a new platform, a new engine line-up, and a whole host of new jaw-dropping technology on board.
It wasn't as if it needed much help in the looks department anyway.
A sleek, spacious and effortlessly stylish package – the A4 has always managed to pull off the classy sort of flash that many others can't quite seem to match.
The ninth-generation model launched in Venice last week stays true to that winning formula and despite losing 120kg this time round, it is now roomier than ever, with more leg and head room and an excellent sense of space in the cabin.
The plush new interior mirrors the recent Q7's stunning new layout, with slim floating lines in a mix of different materials, each more luxurious than the next.
There's nothing you can touch that doesn't feel good. This all frames the latest Audi MMI interface which now offers up to the minute smartphone connectivity, including Apple's Carplay, as well as a new and improved voice recognition system and a 19 speaker 3D surround sound system.
It will also be the latest in the range to get Audi's virtual cockpit – which transfers most of that functionality to a 12.3 inch LCD display behind the steering wheel.
It's one of those genuinely 'wow' features, previously only seen on the TT and more recently the Q7 and might just spark a whole new approach to the placement of infotainment systems in the future, not just for the cool factor but also the safety benefits if offers by being placed directly in the driver's line of sight.
It's especially impressive when used with the SatNav and while it will be an optional extra it's an extremely tempting one which makes most sense when bought with the technology pack.
The €2,500 premium will also add a wireless phone-charging box, Audi connect and 3D Google maps for that full on video game effect.
Safety is another area they are out to top the class in with no less than 30 driver-assisting features on offer including things like adaptive cruise control, predictive efficiency assist that will read the attributes of the road ahead and react accordingly, and traffic jam assist - the whole idea being to take the effort out of any driving situations that aren't enjoyable.
But for the ones that are, there's an exciting range of engines coming to Ireland.
The line-up will start with two 1.4l TFSIs in either 150 or 190 HP . Then what will probably be the volume seller here in the 150 HP 2.0 TDI, which will also be available in 190 HP and Audi's superb Quattro four-wheel drive system.
As one of the few brands in the segment that remain committed to the six-cylinder engine, they will also offer two spine-tingling 3.0 TDIs in either 218 HP or the range-topping 272 HP beast.
We had a short spin in one of the latter options up and down some twisty Venetian mountain roads which while not really comparable to what it will feel like here in real life, gave us a good indication of the treat that's in store when it lands here in mid-November, with A8-like levels of refinement, phenomenal grip and an exceptionally quiet cabin.
There will be three trims on offer – Xenon headlamps, keyless go and electric lumbar support are highlights that will be standard across the range, while the €1,950 jump to the SE model adds LEDs, SatNav, cruise control and twin leather and looks to be a nice balance between the entry level Attraction and the range-topping S-Line that comes with sports suspension and upgraded styling.
Pricing starts from €35,800 for a base petrol model, but the more realistic bill for most buyers here will be around €41,550 for the 2.0 TDI 150 HP in the SE trim.
Order books are already open and we will have a full review when it arrives here in November.