- Well-constructed convertible top
- Good fuel economy in base version
- Real four-passenger capability
- Mild styling
- Somewhat cramped interior
- No retractable hardtop
The 2008 Audi A4 Cabriolet doesn’t charge ahead like a Corvette, but its lush, four-seat cabin makes it a good choice for more relaxed drivers.
The 2008 Audi A4 Cabriolet occupies a unique niche in the world of convertibles: It's a four-seater, for one, and it sports a canvas top in a day and age where folding hardtops are becoming the price of entry in its class.
The A4 Cabriolet starts life as an Audi A4, but it doesn't share a single exterior body panel with the sedan or wagon. It gets cut and folded into its new shape, but could use a little more distinct styling--closer to Audi's dartlike TT coupe and convertible. There's nothing startling about the Audi A4 Cabriolet's looks, but elements like the chrome surround on the windshield give it elegance without ostentation.
It's inside where the A4 Cabriolet excels. The upper dash wears circular, aluminum-trimmed vents. The genuine wood veneer accents are almost astonishingly lush, the leather covering the seats must come from volunteer cows, and the shifter sits in a gate on the center console that looks like it was forged for NASA. This is a $41,000 car with a $70,000 car's interior.
But it's not a perfect interior. It's a true four-seater with enough legroom so that, as long as the perfectly shaped front seats aren't all the way back on their tracks, adults can survive back there and walk out without cramped hamstrings. Up front, however, the footwells are rather narrow, and tall drivers will find their knees crammed into the side of the center console. Also, the ventilation controls are mounted low on the dash where access is difficult, and the markings on those controls are cryptic at best.
The A4 Cabriolet is longer than the A4 sedan, but shares suspension pieces like the double A-arm front and trapezoidal link independent rear suspension, which carry over from the four-door, as do engines, transmissions, and anti-lock controlled four-wheel disc brakes. Especially with all-wheel drive, the A4 Cabriolet handles predictably, with Audi's version of stability control kicking in before utter goofiness finds its way into the chassis.
The Audi A4 Cabriolet's engines are universally admired by auto writers, but in this fairly heavy ragtop, they're sapped of some energy. The base $40,000 Cabriolet comes with a 200-horsepower turbocharged 2.0-liter four, and can be teamed with a continuously variable transmission for 30-mpg highway fuel economy. Vehicles with Audi's quattro all-wheel drive and the turbo four get a six-speed automatic with manual shift control.
The upmarket engine is a 255-horsepower, 3.1-liter V-6. It's a torquey engine, and when teamed with all-wheel drive and the six-speed automatic, can scoot to 60 mph in 7.4 seconds--not slow, but not too quick, either.
The convertible top may not be a folding metal contraption, but it's a well-executed piece. There's virtually no wind noise whatsoever, and the inside lining is beautifully textured--more expensive convertibles like the BMW Z8, Chevy Corvette, and Ford Thunderbird should have a top this nice. And the Audi's top goes over a truly gorgeous interior.
The A4 Cabriolet comes with enough luxury equipment to help you get over the lack of a metal roof, zippy performance, and wide open spaces. The power top is standard, as is a six-disc CD changer, dual-zone climate control, and cruise control. Options include Sirius Satellite Radio, rain-sensing wipers, a Bose premium speaker system, a navigation system, and Bluetooth.