With 2022 around the corner and Audi saying 2025 will be the year it's going to launch the final new car powered by combustion engines, it means every generation of a model from now on will be the last to have an ICE. In the A4's case, the company's boss Markus Duesmann made this disclosure in January, telling Germany's Manager Magazin the midsize saloon will abandon petrol and diesel engines by 2030.
That's when the replacement to the upcoming B10 generation is likely scheduled to debut, purely in EV form. In the meantime, the next-gen model has been caught by our spy photographers for the very first time, testing in the more practical Avant body style. The luxury wagon seemingly had the production body and final headlights, but the rear lighting clusters are clearly a provisional set given their basic look.
Gallery: 2023 Audi A4 Avant spy photos
The posh estate from Ingolstadt appears to have lost the upper Quattro-inspired the current model shares with the A1 supermini, lending the front fascia a cleaner look. The headlights seem a tad slimmer while retaining the familiar look, although we're fairly certain the LED graphics will be all-new for the B10 model.
Thankfully, the singleframe grille doesn't look any bigger than it is today. As a matter of fact, it seems a smidge flatter as Audi has decided to make room on the front bumper for a slightly taller lower grille. Thin vertical inlets are peeking through the camouflage on the sides of the bumper.
Although the side profile is more of the same, surely that swirly camouflage is masking redesigned character lines and other fresh details to separate the new A4 from the current B9 generation. We're getting the impression it will have largely the same size as today's model, along with an oh-so-familiar shape.
Moving at the back, you can see the taillights are wider than Audi wants us to believe since there are cutouts in the tailgate for the white reverse lights. A wide bulge going from one taillight to the other could hide an LED light bar, but that remains to be seen. The dual exhaust setup hints at a more powerful version of the long-roof A4, possibly a diesel judging by the towbar.
Speaking engines, it is believed Audi will offer its 3 Series rival with the next (and final) generation of petrol and diesel units. These will be electrified more than ever before to meet tougher emissions regulations in the European Union, through mild-hybrid tech and a plug-in hybrid model with a bigger battery for a longer range with zero emissions. A fully electric E-Tron derivative has not been ruled out.
A report published by Auto Motor und Sport in late August detailed VW Group's plan to gradually abandon the manual gearbox. The next Tiguan and Passat (probably the Skoda Superb, too) will allegedly come without a clutch pedal, and it would make even more sense for the A4 to go automatic-only for the B9.
Moving higher in the hierarchy, the RS4 Avant has already been confirmed to get a plug-in hybrid powertrain and there's also some gossip about an electric version. Since we mentioned rumours, that wild report from a little over two years ago about Audi's plans to demote the A4 to the MQB platform to save $1 billion is most likely (and hopefully) inaccurate. That means the C-Class fighter will probably stick to its MLB architecture and longitudinally mounted engines.
With this being only the first batch of spy shots, we are not expecting the official debut to take place in the near future. Look for a premiere in the latter half of 2022.