Although it's not arriving until May, Audi Australia has released pricing and specifications for its new A4 sedan.

Same, same but different
It's instantly recognisable as both an Audi and as an A4, but a bevy of styling flourishes have been added to make the car look more sporting than before.

It's also grown in most dimensions, with width up 5.5cm to 1.83m. The big news -- no we didn't mean it like that -- is that the new A4 is 4.7m long, almost 12cm bigger than before. This is makes the Audi a significant 12cm and 18cm larger than its German counterparts, the Mercedes-Benz C-Class and BMW 3-Series, respectively. Height is actually down a millimetre or two to 1.426m.

Despite its bigger physical presence, the A4 actually weighs less than the old model -- around 10 percent less, according to Audi. The entry-level model tips the scales at 1410kg.

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More dynamism, stat!
Reviewers have criticised previous A4s for being a dull drive, especially in comparison to the BMW 3-Series. One of the technical reasons for this was the placement of the engine. In previous Audis most of the engine has been situated ahead of the front axle, the engine has now been pushed back.

This aids the weight distribution in the car which, in theory, should result in better handling. A nice side benefit is that the proportions of the car have changed too. There's less front overhang -- the space between the tyres and the front of the car -- making the car look more "dynamic".

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On sale in May
Four engines will be on offer in the new A4's first month on sale: two petrol and two diesel engines. Kicking off the A4 cavalcade is the 118kW/250Nm 1.8-litre turbocharged, four-cylinder engined model. It's AU$50,900 with a six-speed manual or AU$53,500 with a continuously variable transmission (CVT).

Conventional automatic and manual transmissions have a number of gears, generally anywhere between four and six, but CVTs effecitvely have an infinite number of gears. When you're accelerating with a normal transmission, you surge through the revs before changing gears and repeating; in a CVT, however, you surge to an optimal point in the engine rev range and stay here. So while CVTs are more efficient than normal automatic transmissions, it can take a bit of getting used to.

A conventional six-speed auto comes standard with the range topping four-wheel drive 3.2-litre V6 (AU$88,500). While CVTs are standard on the diesels: the AU$54,900 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder and the AU$67,900 2.7-litre turbocharged V6.

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One of the hallmarks of the Audi brand are its interiors. Tastefully crafted and solidly built, sitting in the A4 makes you feel like a million dollars. The materials reek of quality and the switches move nicely in the hand -- the Audi help staff at the Melbourne Motor Show almost had to pry us out of the car.

Amongst the A4's extensive option list are Bluetooth hands-free, a 505-watt Bang & Olufsen sound system and the Audi Music Interface, which maps a connected iPod's menus onto the car's LCD screen.

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The eyes, the eyes
The R8 is Audi's Porsche-eating supercar and it has LED driving lights, not dissimilar to these ones on the new A4. Hey, hang on, what's Audi trying to say here?

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Coming soon
Recently at the Geneva Motor Show, Audi pulled the covers off the A4 wagon -- Avant in Audi-speak. It'll be here in August this year with either the 1.8-litre petrol four or 2.0-litre turbo-diesel. Also in the pipeline is a 3.0-litre V6 turbo-diesel sedan -- that's pencilled in for October.

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