The following is a way to tell the different year A4's apart from each other. The first table shows the quickest way to distinguish a particular year. The second is picture based to show the actual differences.
|96||Wide rear license plate area|
|97||Amber taillights and small passenger mirror|
|98.5||Red taillights ver.1 and small passenger mirror|
|99||Red taillights ver.1 and full size passenger mirror|
|99.5||Many changes incl. new lights(Red taillights ver.2) and lowered badges|
|00||Same as 99.5, but with diff. sport rims and stereo|
|01||Same as '00, but with 170 HP 1.8T and red mark on 1.8T badge|
|1.8T Wheel||1.8T N/A||1.8T N/A|
|1.8T Sport Wheel||1.8T N/A||1.8T N/A|
|2.8 Sport Wheel||Sport Wheel N/A|
|Avant||1.8T & 2.8||1.8T & 2.8||1.8T & 2.8||1.8T & 2.8||2.8||2.8||Avant N/A||Avant N/A|
|1.8T Engine||170 HP||150 HP||150 HP||150 HP||150 HP||1.8T N/A||150 HP||1.8T N/A|
|2.8 Engine||30V, 190 HP||30V, 190 HP||30V, 190 HP||30V, 190 HP||30V, 190 HP||30V, 190 HP||12V, 172 HP||12V, 172 HP|
96 and 97 only had "standard" shocks. There was no
In mid '97 (before the time when the next-year's models typically become available), Audi put the new 30V V6 into the (otherwise) '97 2.8 and sold it as a '98. This is what we know the '98 or the "early '98" to be. When the fall came around and the next-year-model became available (both 1.8T & 2.8), there were a variety of changes made to the interior and exterior of the car. These vehicles are the ones we know as '98.5.
The '99 started at the normal time and part way through the year changes were made. These new vehicles (1.8T & 2.8) were known as 99.5.