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2017 Audi A4 sharpens up (pictures)

Audi's 2017 A4 looks familiar, if a bit edgier on the outside. But inside and under the skin, it's all new and very impressive, particularly in terms of infotainment and advanced safety technology.

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Chris Paukert
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The 2017 Audi A4 has an icier stare and sharper creases than before.

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Audi's hexagonal "Single-Frame" grille is now more angular than before, and does a better job of disguising the bumper's strike plate.

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It's hard to tell from here, but the A4's wheelbase and length are up slightly, although overall height remains the same as last year's model.

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You can't see it, but the A4's underbelly is now enshrouded in order to improve aerodynamics. It's a big reason why the car's coefficient of drag has dropped down to o.23, making this Audi one of the sleekest cars on the planet.

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The A4's rear end is, like many sedans of this type, rather anonymous, but LED tail lamps help update the look.

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This photography car is in fact a European-spec TDI model, one of several different A4 models I drove on the launch. Text impressions are of the TFSI gasoline model.

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Not only has the belt-line crease been redone to flow into the hood shut line, the rocker panel's creases are deeper and more angular than before.

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These LED headlamps are optional, but bi-xenon units are now standard. Dumping conventional halogen headlamps meant Audi could go with a smaller, lighter housing.

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Two-piece tail lamps (now with LED illumination) are used to emphasize width and give the A4 a broader stance.

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Note the well-disguised camera hidden under Audi's iconic Four Ring logo.

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Multi-tone wheels are all the rage these days. These upsized alloys have both machined and charcoal gray surfacing.

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The A4 2-liter TFSI features a single pair of  chromed exhaust outlets on the driver's side.

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Redesigned mirrors now mount on the door skins and feature LED turn signals. Their mirror surface is nice and wide, which is good for visibility.

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This interior features a traditional and somewhat sober color scheme, but more assertive leather tones and trim colors are available.

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The A4's interior is all new, including a fixed (not retractable) center screen and a slimmer dashboard design that emphasizes width to help the cabin feel roomier.

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This interior featured aluminum trim, but real wood in both glossy and matte finishes is available.

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This leather-wrapped wheel is a new piece that's actually made out of magnesium to keep weight down. It features a commendably small airbag boss and an array of easy-to-access controls.

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The rear seat has better leg- and knee-room than before. My 5-foot-9-inch frame was comfortable enough, though I didn't have much headroom to spare.

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The dual-clutch transmission's gear selector has been redesigned. The placement of the P for Parking button near the driver's thumb takes some getting used to.

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Audi's longstanding thumbwheel switches are among the best in the business.

Note the cruise-control stalk, which incorporates controls for Audi's active lane assist technology.

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The optional Virtual Cockpit is a stunning piece of tech.

This particular screen showing the navigation system using Google Maps topography has the speedometer and tachometer minimized.

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The A4 features excellent new tri-zone climate control (driver, passenger and rear seats). The system uses a trio of TFT displays (the central one and two smaller ones to display temperatures in the knobs themselves), along with trick capacitive-touch toggles.

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Note how when you touch a button, new menu options can appear, or sometimes the system simply enlarges the iconography for easier viewing.

This system works easily and beautifully.

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At 17 cubic feet, the A4's trunk is appreciably larger than most rivals. With the rear seats folded, space expands to 34.1 cubic feet.

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