According to this new report from Automobile Magazine, the next-gen ‘B10’ generation Audi A4 will remain on the brand’s MLB architecture, rather than switch to MQB. Apparently, there were talks back in 2014, before the current B9-gen A4 debuted, about switching the A4 to a more cost-effective MQB chassis. This was due to the infamous diesel scandal, which sent Audi’s brass to go penny pinching.
However, those talks were thankfully squashed and the A4 stayed on the MLB architecture. This is important because MLB uses a longitudinal engine layout, which allows for proper Quattro all-wheel drive with Torsen center-locking differential. Whereas the MQB platform, which underpins cars like the Audi A3 and Q3, uses a transverse (sideways) engine layout, which doesn’t permit the Torsen-based Quattro all-wheel drive system. Instead, MQB cars use Haldex-based setups, which aren’t as effective nor are they proper Quattro systems.
Another important advantage of the MLB architecture is style. Using a longitudinal engine layout gives Audis an almost rear-wheel drive-based look, even though they’re front-wheel drive-based, which always looks sportier and more premium. Cars like the Audi A4 and A6 have better dash-to-axle ratios and shorter overhangs, which make them look better than cars like the A3 and Q3.
A member of Audi’s Product Strategy Committee recently said “What opened everyone’s eyes [about the A4 using MLB] were Mark Lichte’s design proposals. The MQB-based models looked okay thanks to short overhangs, a long wheelbase, and a big trunk. But their proportions were clearly those of front-wheel-drive cars with a dash-to-axle ratio similar to the A3. The MLB-derived B10 proposal—which received standing ovations—also has a short front overhang, but there is significantly more meat between the bumper and windscreen, which makes the next A4 look like a shorter and sportier A6.”
This is good news. Mark Lichte, Audi’s design boss, seems to have designed a great looking new MLB-based Audi A4 for the upcoming B10 generation. Not only is it exciting that the next A4 will look great but it’s also reassuring that it will remain a proper Audi with proper Quattro all-wheel drive. It might be more expensive for Audi to make but it’s important to keep the A4, a staple of the brand, a real Audi moving forward.
The only downside of the Audi A4 remaining on the MLB platform is the fact that its extra cost means the death of other models. For instance, say goodbye to either the Audi A5 Sportback or the Audi S7 Sportback. Both of those cars will become one four-door Sportback model, likely sized between the previous two, and will probably just keep one of their names.
Also, the Audi A8, which uses a combination of the MLB chassis and ASF (Audi Space Frame) technology, could be replaced with an all-electric Audi A9 based on the PPE (Premium Platform Electric) architecture. This new PPE architecture will underpin almost all future VW Group EVs moving forward, so the A8 could switch to that with a new name.
Unfortunately, the Audi A5 Coupe could be on the way out as well. Though, we doubt it will die off, because Audi will likely want to keep some coupe in the lineup, but it’s not outside the realm of possibility.
So the Audi A4 will remain a proper Audi for the foreseeable future. Which is great news, one of the brand’s greatest cars will stay the same. However, it does mean that we’ll have to lose some other cars moving forward. Don’t fret too much about them, though, as they’ll likely be replaced with electrified models, which is the future.