What’s wrong with the new Audi A4?

Dynamically, probably nothing. I haven’t driven the new A4, and the critical consensus seems to be that it’s just peachy to wheel.

It’s not even the too-evolutionary styling. Sure, Audi’s been doing variations on the same theme for going on twenty years now, and sure, it’s getting old, but it’s not as if they’re starting with this and deciding to call it a day until Blue Ivy’s kids are starting school. The bones are good.

It’s that it looks…cheap.

It looks like an Audi, but from the Audi Factory Outlet, which doesn’t actually sell the same Audis as the Audi store at the mall.

Put it side by side with its predecessor, which dates back to 2009, and if you can tell the difference, it’s only because one doesn’t look quite as thought-through and fussed-over as the other. To wit:

Photo illustration by Nathan (Photos: edmunds.com)

Photo illustration by Nathan (Photos: edmunds.com)

Many of the changes can probably be chalked up to the pursuit of greater aerodynamic efficiency, and the new A4 is indeed slick with a drag coefficient of 0.27. But where the old A4 was the pretty one among its competitive set in 2009, with the Mercedes C-Class now wearing that crown, the new A4 aims to be – what? The Teutonically sterile one?

The entry-luxury class is a sharper-elbowed crowd these days, with aggressive up-and-comers from Jaguar, Cadillac, and Alfa Romeo joining the fight over a shrinking pool of buyers. That the market is becoming more tech-obsessed can’t hurt Audi, which seems to be focusing all of its energies in that direction; good thing, since visually, the one-time styling powerhouse is doing nothing to capture the market’s attention anymore.

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