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Pictured: Artist’s impression of the 2015 Audi A4

The next-generation Audi A4 will take some design cues from the TT, add more technology and shed up to 100kg as it aims to lift its game against the BMW 3 Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class.

CarAdvice spies have spotted Audi’s fifth-generation mid-size sedan testing in Europe ahead of an expected unveiling at October 2015’s Frankfurt motor show.

The twirly camouflage may disguise the details, but as well as failing to hide the evolutionary change to the A4’s shape it’s also possible to see how the front end carries influence from Audi’s third-generation sports car.

Audi A4 3

There are slimmer headlights and a bold evolution of the single frame grille, while further TT influence is there in the shorter overhangs and longer wheelbase.

A three-box sedan shape is clear as Audi wants to ensure there’s sufficient differentiation to the A5 coupe and A5 Sportback that will follow again.

Our illustrator has taken all these cues to produce the computer-generated image that leads this story.

A4 remains an evolutionary design because, as we have reported, it will be the next-generation A8 limo that showcases Audi’s future design language. The more ambitious styling approach will be previewed by the A9 concept at this month’s LA motor show.

Audi A4 6

The A4’s overall length isn’t expected to stretch by much over the current model, while the designers’ determination to restrict the length of the rear overhang means boot space is unlikely to change much either.

The new Audi A4 will sit on the MLB Evo platform – an evolution of today’s underpinnings. It remains as scaleable as before and will underpin the likes of the next A6, A8, VW Phaeton, and next-generation Porsche Cayenne and Audi Q7.

Audi’s big SUV will drop at January’s 2015 Detroit motor show, debuting the MLB Evo platform that will use a smarter mix of construction materials to reduce weight.

Audi A4 1

Audi has already said the Q7 will lose up to 300kg, while the A4 will shed up to 100kg.

This will help the performance and economy derived from the range of four-cylinder petrol and diesel engines – including at least a 1.4L with cylinder deactivation – and 3.0-litre V6 petrol and diesel alternatives.

They’ll put power again to either the front wheels or all wheels (Quattro), via a six-speed manual or seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. As previously reported, Audi has axed its Multitronic CVT (continuously variable transmission).

The MLB Evo platform has also been engineered to add more alternative drivetrains, so expect an Audi A4 eTron hybrid down the track.

Audi A4 4

Inside, Audi knows it has a huge challenge to overcome the Mercedes-Benz C-Class in terms of technology and cabin presentation.

There’ll be the latest iteration of Audi’s MMI (multi-media interface), influences from the recent A6 update, and a more developed form of autonomous driving will feature. It’s too early for the company’s full auto pilot system to debut, though.

The Virtual Cockpit 12.3-inch display from the new TT could also feature.

Australian buyers will have to wait until early 2016 to get their hands on the new Audi A4.

Expect the spin-off A5 coupe to show its face that year, before the A4 range gradually expands with the usual nameplates such as Allroad, S4 and RS4.