The fourth-generation Audi A4 was launched back in late 2007, making the B9 generation a bit long overdue taking into account Audi’s earlier product cycles. Despite taking its time with the development of the 2016 A4, it seems that the Ingolstadt carmaker is right on track when it comes to testing the model, with a pre-production prototype having been spied recently in Lapland, Sweden. Even though it uses a hefty amount of camouflage, most of the design details hiding underneath can be easily interpreted, not leaving too many surprises for the car’s reveal sometime later in 2015.

As you can see and probably expected, the 2016 Audi A4 will receive a not-exactly-surprising evolutionary exterior design, while overall proportions will be quasi-identical to the current A4. A slightly lower and wider single-frame now unites a pair of headlights which look like a slimmer and squinty versions of the ones from the 2016 Audi Q7, which was recently unveiled at the Detroit Auto Show. Going over to the side, a different design and aerodynamic-related motif is represented by the new mirrors, which are now mounted a bit lower on the doors.

As far as the rear design goes, it seems that the 2016 Audi A4 will offer a look not unlike a mix between the Audi A3 sedan and what we saw on the Audi Prologue Concept but with larger, individual taillights. Built on the Audi MLB Evo architecture, the model should weigh up to 220 pounds, or so, less than its predecessor, while the engine lineup will likely also offer a plug-in hybrid variant. A station wagon "Avant" version should follow suit about six months after the sedan’s unveiling, while the A5 and A5 Sportback will be launched in late 2016 at the earliest.

Click past the jump to read more about the 2016 Audi A4.

Why it matters

Too late in development to have been influenced by the arrival of Marc Lichte at the head of Audi design, the 2016 A4 will look more like an extensive facelift than an all-new model when it arrives a bit later than expected in 2015. This is not necessarily a bad thing, as Audi’s "same sausage, different lengths" design philosophy has been working for over 20 years now and the Ingolstadt carmaker is experiencing record-breaking sales with each passing year.

With that said, the main quality of the new A4 will not be an innovative look but a huge amount of high-tech features, a lower weight and much-improved fuel-economy figures across the range. Not yet confirmed but likely, a plug-in hybrid variant will heat up the battle between the entry-level executive cars, as both the 2015 BMW 328e and the 2016 Mercedes-Benz C350 Plug-in Hybrid are in dire need of a new opponent. The 2016 Audi A4 should be unveiled at the 2015 edition of the Geneva Motor Show in March, with market launch to take place closer to summer.

2016 Audi A4 - spy shots

Spy Shots: 2016 Audi A4 Caught in Wintery Conditions Exterior Spyshots
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Spy Shots: 2016 Audi A4 Caught in Wintery Conditions Exterior Spyshots
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Spy Shots: 2016 Audi A4 Caught in Wintery Conditions Exterior Spyshots
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