The Bottom Line
Audi unleashed their awesome RS4 sedan last year; for 2008 they've added a convertible version called the RS4 Cabriolet. The Audi RS4 Cabriolet features a high-revving 420 horsepower 4.2 liter V8, six-speed transmission, all-wheel-drive, brilliant suspension, and an electronic stability control system tuned by enthusiasts rather than lawyers. The RS4 sedan is my favorite family car, bar none. So how does the RS4 work as a convertible? Read on.
- Amazing handling
- Amazing engine
- Amazing convertible execution
- Costs over twice as much as an Audi A4 convertible
- No automatic transmission option (er, some might see that as a con...)
- New convertible version of Audi's highest-performance 4-series model
- Also available as a four-door sedan
- Price range: $84,775 - $85,525
- Price as tested: $85,525
- EPA fuel economy estimates: 12 MPG city/19 MPG highway
Guide Review - 2008 Audi RS4 Cabriolet
Everything I wrote about the 2007 RS4 sedan applies to the 2008 RS4 convertible -- just replace all the instances of "brilliant family car" with "brilliant convertible". Just as the RS4 sedan sweats the four-door details, the RS4 Cabrio sweats the convertible details. There's a single switch for the power-operated top, with no knuckle-busting latches to deal with. With the top up, it's nearly as quiet as a hardtop convertible; top down it's quiet enough to converse without raising your voice. The back seat is a squeeze for adults -- no surprise there -- but access is pretty easy and rear-seat occupants even get seat heaters. How cool (er, hot) is that?
Like the sedan, the RS4 Cabriolet's handling is nothing short of amazing -- it makes curvy-road driving so easy that you don't realize how fast you're going until you show up at your destination an hour earlier than you expected. The Quattro all-wheel-drive system splits the power 40/60 front-to-rear, so you get all the grip of all-wheel-drive with just a hint of tail-happy rear-drive behavior. Acceleration is awesome, as is the soundtrack -- especially when you press the "S" button, which adds a throaty baseline to the exhaust note. (The exhaust sound alone is reason to keep the top down all the time.) But the real gob-smacker is the ride. The RS4 is one of the best handling cars under $100k, yet it rides as smoothly as a Cadillac. I don't know how Audi does it. (My guess: Black magic.)
The only real drawback is the price: Over $85,000 including gas-guzzler tax. Ouch! And the RS4 doesn't offer an automatic transmission. Audi's S4 Cabriolet offers similar acceleration for $25,000 less, while the A4 Cabrio costs about half as much as the RS4. Still, neither car can approach the RS4's fun factor -- but then again, few other cars can, either. Perfection, it would seem, has its price. -- Aaron Gold