If we were to tell you this ninth-generation Audi A4 sedan is bigger, lighter, more powerful, more efficient and further tech-laden, would you believe us? Of course you would. This is an important model for the automaker, as one in four Audis sold is an A4.

And no one can stand still in this segment that is dominated by the BMW 3 Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class. Further complicating matters are the upcoming Jaguar XE and Alfa Romeo Giulia.

The 2017 A4 breaks no stylistic ground, sticking very close to the corporate template to which all Audi sedans of late adhere. While hardly exciting, it is a handsomely chiseled four-door, and the new snout forsakes any soft curves for hard edges and sharp angles. Also shown at Frankfurt was a mighty fine looking wagon version that will not make its way to North America. However, you can bet on seeing a jacked-up and plastic-clad Allroad version here in the future.

We will get the 2017 Audi A4 sedan in the spring of 2016. No pricing has been announced.

Audi is claiming this car as having a class-leading drag co-efficient of 0.23 thanks to a mostly flat underbelly and special air vents up front that strategically guide air over the body. And this A4 is up to 120 kg lighter than its predecessor thanks to a serious regimen of light alloy bits, some of which include magnesium steering parts, transmission parts and rear seat structure.

This sedan is marginally larger than the outgoing model, seeing a 2.5-mm increase in both wheelbase and length. Audi has carved out more interior space, offering rear seat passengers 23 mm more legroom. Front headroom increases by the same amount. A brief spell in the back seat confirms the claim of increased space – it does not feel cramped back there, though the A4 was not the worst offender in that area. Compact sport sedans are no longer allowed to feel compact (which is a bummer for Cadillac and its fine-driving ATS).

See all our Frankfurt coverage:  2015 Frankfurt Auto Show (IAA)

Below decks we’ll find a five-point multi-link rear suspension, available adaptive damping and new electric steering. With a stiffer structure and more aluminum up front, Audi says the new A4 will be a sharper handler. But also top of list for the chassis engineers was an improvement in ride quality – an area where Audi had fallen behind both Mercedes and BMW in this small luxury sedan segment.

Two-litre turbocharged four-cylinder power will be the order of the day for most North American–spec cars, and the 2017 A4 gets an all-new unit that makes its debut in this car. A new combustion method (similar to the Miller Cycle) allows for higher compression ratios. Audi claims better fuel economy and increased tractability – peak torque now comes online at only 1,450 rpm. Other improvements include shorter coolant flow for quicker warm-up time and an exhaust manifold integrated into the cylinder head.

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