Audi seems to have ditched the test-mule body of the Audi A4, opting to finally give the next-generation sedan its own set of clothes. The heavily wrapped A4 was recently spotted by our eagle-eyed spy photographers doing some hot-weather testing in Southern Europe, and while the swirly bits made it difficult to make out the car entirely, we did notice a few juicy tidbits on what looks like a more muscular A4.

The A4 prototype in these photos appears to be running on a longer wheelbase with shorter overhangs compared to its predecessor. This could be a product of Audi’s new MLB Evo architecture developed using ultra high-strength steel mixed with aluminum and composite materials. This should help the A4 cut 200 pounds off of its weight, making it more balanced on the road.

Audi has also been tight-lipped about the next-generation A4’s engine options but we do know that the German automaker will offer the usual gas and diesel options, as well as a performance-oriented RS4 packing a turbocharger.

The model is still in the middle stages of testing and development, so we don’t expect to see the next-generation Audi A4 in the coming months. A more realistic timetable would probably be the 2015 Frankfurt Motor Show.

Audi’s always had a strong presence at Frankfurt so if there was an auto show where the A4 could be revealed, it would probably be there.

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

2016 Audi A4 - Spy Shots

Spy Shots: 2016 Audi A4 Caught Testing in Southern Europe Exterior Spyshots
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Spy Shots: 2016 Audi A4 Caught Testing in Southern Europe Exterior Spyshots
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Spy Shots: 2016 Audi A4 Caught Testing in Southern Europe Exterior Spyshots
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There were a few more tidbits we noticed on the A4 other than the longer wheelbase and shorter overhangs. We also noticed that the new A4’s hexagonal front grille is more upright than previous iterations. This could very well be the result of Audi using a similar grille configuration to the one it used on the new TT.

The side mirrors also caught our eyes, specifically how they appear to have left the fine confines of the side window in favor of its new landing spot close to the door blades. The shape of the headlights and taillights also seem different on the new A4; they look thinner and less intrusive to the overall look of the sports sedan.

Consider this a hunch, but as far as we can tell, Audi may have done its design homework on the new A4. Even with the heavy camo overcoat, it already looks like a big improvement from the previous-generation model.

Why it matters

The Audi A4 was in the news in the early part of 2014 for all the wrong reasons. The next-generation model was supposed to have been launched already, but upheaval in Audi’s research-and-development division last year caused a delay in the development of the car.

Now it looks like testing sessions for the A4 are humming along smoothly and it won’t be long before the next-generation model makes its long-awaited debut.

Hopefully, the A4 doesn’t suffer any more setbacks moving forward. A lot of people, including us, have waited for this car for a long time.

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