First Look: 2013 Audi A4/S4

The A4 is Audi's best-selling car, topping the brand's sales chart in the U.S. and selling over five million examples worldwide since 1994. To help keep the car fresh and demand high, Audi is sprucing up the A4 and its performance sibling, the S4, for the 2013 model year.

The modifications to the updated A4 begin with a new front fascia that's not surprisingly highlighted by an updated version of Audi's signature light banks. The restyled headlamps feature a curved lower line that lend them a skinnier and more angular look, and redesigned LED running lights have also been added to the mix. The upper corners of the A4's now familiar single-frame front grille are now angled inward slightly, lending the grille more of a hexagonal appearance. The lower air inlets which house the foglights have been reshaped to sharp-edged parallelograms.

At the rear, the A4 benefits from skinnier taillights that closely match the units at the front of the car, as well as a restyled lower bumper and diffuser. Visual changes to the high-performance Audi S4 mostly mirror those applied to the A4, though the S model's front air intakes are larger.

Changes to the 2013 A4's cabin are also fairly subtle, with redesigned steering wheels, a new key fob, and new chrome trim headlining the updates. Audi also has simplified some interior controls, cutting four buttons from the MMI interface. The seat heaters can now also be directly accessed from center stack rather than by pushing the button and then twisting a temperature control. Tech goodies including Google Street View and an available Wi-Fi hot spot are trickling down to the A4 from Audi's higher end models. Finally, Audi says interior upholstery choices have been "re-coordinated" and some colors have been changed.


Familiar Faces Under the Hood
While European A4 models are slated to receive several new engine options, cars sold in America will soldier on with existing powertrains for the time being. The U.S.-spec 2013 A4's motivation is still provided by the 211-hp, turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four hooked up to a six-speed manual or eight-speed automatic transmission, with a choice between front- or quattro all-wheel drive. The S4 keeps its 333-hp, supercharged 3.0-liter V-6, which can be equipped with a six-speed manual or seven-speed dual-clutch transmission.

The biggest engine news, at least for Europe, is the addition of Audi's new turbocharged 1.8-liter inline-four rated for 170 hp and 236 lb-ft of torque, which reportedly returns as much as 42 mpg in highway driving. Audi officials we spoke with say there are no plans to bring that engine to the U.S. market. There are reportedly no plans to sell the A4 with either the 2.0 or 3.0-liter diesel engine options on our shores, either. Audi offers a whopping 10 gas and diesel engine variations for the A4 in Europe.

Not much has changed dynamically for the 2013 A4, although Audi says its ride quality has been improved thanks to redesigned rear suspension mounts and retuned shock absorbers. The A4's power steering also has been changed to an electromechanical assist setup, which reportedly improves overall fuel efficiency slightly.


More of the Same...And That's Fine
While the updates to the A4 line are relatively mild, especially for the U.S. car, it's likely enough to keep up consumer interest in the sedan, Avant, and go-fast S4 high until Audi can complete development of an all-new, ninth-generation model in a few years time. Audi is only just now releasing the 2012 Audi A4 and S4 models to showrooms, so we likely won't see the 2013 model here until at least the fall of next year.

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