To insure that all new Audi models are as durable as possible, the four-ringed brand puts them through a brutal durability test. Audi calls this test INKA, which stands for Ingolstadt Korrosion und Altern (roughly translated to Ingolstadt Corrosion and Aging). The test lasts 19 punishing weeks, but is the equivalent to 12 years of rough treatment. And it’s just been the turn of the brand-new B9-generation Audi A4.
According to Sylvia Droll, Head of Materials Engineering, “Audi stands for superior build quality, high-quality material appearance and high reliability – even many years after a car is first registered. The INKA test is an essential tool for assessing the quality of our models and for further optimizing our production methods.”
There are five phases to Audi’s INKA test. The first tests for corrosion and rust by spraying the car with salt and placing it in a chamber that’s heated to 98 degrees Fahrenheit. Anyone who lives in a snowy climate knows that road salt is one of the worst possible things for your car. So Audi testing the car with salt gives us some reassurance about the new A4’s long-term corrosion durability.
To add to that corrosion test, Audi then replicates a tropical climate by pumping the chamber’s temperature to 122 degrees with 100 percent humidity. That sounds very unpleasant and knowing what humidity can do to cars makes me cringe just thinking about that.
The next phase tests interior colors fading and parts weakening from heat. So 80 1,200-watt halogen metal vapor lamps heat the body of the car to 194 degrees. At that temperature, inferior parts will become brittle, glues will melt and lose their adhesive properties and interior parts can fade.
After that, Audi tests the cars in extreme cold. The chamber is then cooled to minus 31 degrees Fahrenheit. While at that freezing temperature, the car is put on a four-point hydropulse machine, which tests the durability of the suspension parts at that cold temperature. If the suspension and chassis can hold up during that extreme stress under those freezing conditions, it will hold up over snowy, potholed pavement.
The final phase has the car driven many miles through specially created routes full of mud and saltwater. The total amount of driving done to each model is about 7,500 miles. While that may not seem like a lot, Audi says the total beating on the car after those miles is the equivalent of 12 rough years. So Audi is testing to make sure its cars last in the long run, not just the three-year lease period commonly had by most new customers.
After all of these phases are complete, engineers take the car apart into 600 pieces and inspect each one. A Quality Assurance team checks for corrosion, durability and wear to make sure all parts are up to Audi’s high standards. Audi has been doing this INKA test on each new model developed since 2002, which equates to over 620,000 miles of testing.
So if you’re wondering weather or not an Audi is a good bet for a harsh climate or as a long-term vehicle, we’d say it probably is. If these cars can take that sort of beating for 7,500 miles, they can get back and forth from the grocery store for decades, even in rough climates.