If you're a fan of luxury cars, the evolution of the Audi A4 may interest you. Below, you can learn about the history and different generations of this vehicle and use this information to determine if any of the available models are right for you.

How the Audi A4 Came To Be: A Brief History

From 1966 to 1996, the Audi 80 was Audi's bread and butter. It was widely popular among consumers, but like all good things, it had to come to an end. Audi began working on a new vehicle that would serve as the Audi 80's successor.

The company began to make development plans and sketches in 1988. It was a long six years before Audi was content with its new creation, the Audi A4. The manufacturer presented the finished version to the public in October 1994. Consumers could officially purchase the vehicle in North America in September 1995. The company kept all of the internal numberings that were on the Audi 80 on the A4, so no one can wrongly claim that the A4 isn't the Audi 80's offspring.

1994–2001: The First Generation

The first generation of the Audi A4 lasted from 1994 to 2001. This compact executive car was originally a four-door sedan, but other first-generation versions were also available. For example, Audi released an A4 that had an Avant estate wagon format in early 1996.

The base version of the A4's first generation had a front-mounted longitudinal engine and front-wheel drive. While European customers had several engine choices, the North American market was more limited. Until 1997, the only option available was a 2.8-liter V6 engine. In 1997, a newer engine with a 12-valve format replaced the older 2.8-liter 30-valve engine. Consumers also had the option of a 2.5-liter turbocharged direct-injection V6 engine that consumed diesel fuel. They could pair this engine with a six-speed manual transmission for greater command of the road.

Adjustments to the engine weren't the only changes that the A4 endured during its first generation. Consumers also greatly appreciated minor yet impactful changes to the vehicle's exterior, such as new rear lights, headlights, and door handles.

2001–2006: The Second Generation

The second generation of the A4 had been in the works since 1996, but it took some time for it to become publically available. German automobile designer Peter Schreyer was the main creative mind behind the second generation, and it has never failed to impress car enthusiasts.

Some of the most notable upgrades that the second generation introduced relate to power. For example, Audi made the 1.8-liter 20-valve turbocharged engine available with either 148 brake horsepower or 178 brake horsepower. You could choose either of these engines with a six-speed manual transmission.

While the first generation had a 2.8-liter V6 engine, the second generation introduced both a 2.0-liter and a 3.0-liter engine that were designed to meet drivers' various power preferences. The latter was composed entirely of aluminum alloy and provided 221 pound-feet of torque and 217 brake horsepower. The second generation also saw minor improvements to the 1.9-liter turbocharged direct-injection engine that was available in the last years of the first generation.

In terms of technology, the second generation had some notable changes. For instance, it had a new anti-lock braking system with electronic brakeforce distribution and brake assist. This change eventually became the new standard for the A4 vehicle. Consumers also saw a rear dynamic torque distribution system as part of the A4's second generation.

2004–2009: The Third Generation

As you'll see with subsequent generations, there's some overlap between the start and end dates of some of the A4 generations. For example, the third generation technically began in 2004, while vehicles from the second generation were still actively available to buy from Audi. Some notable changes in the third generation include revisions to the steering settings and suspension geometry. Consumers also enjoyed the updated selection of internal combustion engines that they could install in their A4s.

Audi implemented some minor changes in the third generation's detailing, implemented a new grill assembly, and added new electronics and stock navigation systems to the chassis. Note that even with the minor detailing changes, the dashboard and some other interior elements reflect those of the second generation.

If you're looking for an A4 from the third generation, you can shop our inventory of pre-owned vehicles to see what we currently have available. Our team will review your options to help you secure your dream car.

2008–2016: The Fourth Generation

The fourth generation of the A4 received some major cosmetic improvements that increased its aesthetic appeal even more. Some exterior design changes included close-together twin exhausts, a front air dam, and revamped LED headlights and taillights. Interior changes included power windows with chrome clasps, a newly designed ignition key, and revamped air conditioning controls.

2016–Present: The Fifth Generation

We're currently in the fifth generation of the A4, and one of the most notable differences between this generation and the previous is the vehicle's weight. The inclusion of different materials makes the fifth generation over 250 pounds lighter than its predecessor for easier handling. The Audi A4 has been an important part of the company’s history, and we don't expect it to go away soon. In fact, there has been talk of a possible sixth generationthat will focus on electric and hybrid variants.

After reading through this guide on the evolution of the A4, you may decide that you want one yourself. Feel free to contact our teamat Audi Mission Viejo or visit our dealership in person. We want you to experience the wonders of the Audi brand, and we can help you do so by guiding your purchase of a newer or older generation of the Audi A4. We'll have one of our team members meet with you to discuss anything from financing options to service specials so that you can keep your new purchase in pristine condition.

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