2008 Audi A4 Cabriolet Review

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Marty Padgett Marty Padgett Editorial Director
July 22, 2008

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.

TheCarConnection.com’s car experts researched Web reviews for the 2008 Audi A4 Cabriolet to compile this full review. TheCarConnection.com’s editors also drove the 2008 Audi A4 Cabriolet in order to sort through the opinions they found on the Web, to find a consensus among online car-review Web sites, and to help you get to the truth where reviewers had differing opinions.

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.

Review continues below

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.

7

2008 Audi A4 Cabriolet

Styling

The 2008 Audi A4 Cabriolet sports conservatively handsome lines, inside and out.

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.

From the outside, Cars.com takes note of the "new single-frame grille" that has been redesigned for the 2008 Audi A4 Cabriolet. Automobile takes note of its “controversial, massive grille. It's hard to miss that chrome snout barreling toward you.” Still, Kelley Blue Book feels "enthusiasts may long for a bolder statement from the exterior." With the top down, the Audi 2008 A4 Cabriolet "looks sleek and clean," says Kelley Blue Book, going on to add that "headlamps and taillights look modern and elegant while bold fender flares add a sporty feel." Kelley Blue book also loves how the 2008 Audi A4 Cabriolet "cleverly incorporates design cues from the exterior," citing the "shape of the trapezoidal grille duplicated in the airbag cover on the steering wheel" as one example. Car and Driver simply calls it “elegant” and Automedia labels it “sublime.”

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.

Edmunds says "the cherry on top of any Audi vehicle is usually its cabin, and the [2008 Audi] A4 maintains this standard”; it calls the Audi A4 Cabriolet design "above reproach." ConsumerGuide likes that the "gauges are clear and well-lit," but finds some "controls are awkwardly low on the dashboard." Automobile reports the cabin is “so form-fitting it looks as if it were blown in,” and Car and Driver calls it “well-finished.”

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2008 Audi A4 Cabriolet

Performance

The 2008 Audi A4 Cabriolet could be faster, but handling is more impressive.

Reviewers applauded the Audi A4 2008 Cabriolet for nimble handling and a fun ride, but docked points for a wimpy engine.

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 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 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.

MyRide.com reports "weak performance with [the] 2.0-liter engine," but Car and Driver calls it “enthusiastic.” However, they add that the convertible’s extra weight ensures “slower performance that will leave enthusiasts uninspired.” Kelley Blue Book feels that "the 2008 Audi A4 Cabriolet has adequate acceleration with the 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbo, but the V6 is more satisfying all around." Edmunds does remind drivers that the "V6 is increasingly outclassed by competitors putting out more than 300 hp."

ForbesAutos points out that "a continuously variable transmission is offered in the front-wheel-drive version only" and "a six-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission, where the driver can manually select gears, comes with quattro all-wheel drive exclusively." Automedia calls the CVT “ultra-smooth.” Cars.com comments that "the manual gearbox shifts easily, and Audi's automatic transmission works without any harshness.”

Cars.com notes that the Audi Cabriolet A4 is available "with FrontTrak front-wheel drive or Quattro all-wheel drive." The option adds even more weight to the Cabriolet, but “the extra traction afforded by the Quattro all-wheel-drive system is quite useful in Northern climates,” Edmunds asserts.

ConsumerGuide finds that the 3.2-liter Audi A4 2008 Cabriolet "averaged 16.0 mpg in mostly city driving." The EPA rates the 2008 Audi A4 Cabriolet at 21/30 mpg with the four-cylinder and CVT; 19/27 mpg with the four-cylinder, automatic, and Quattro; and 17/25 mpg with the six-cylinder, automatic, and Quattro.

The 208 Audi A4 Cabriolet handles respectably well for a heavy convertible. Edmunds calls it a “sterling daily driver,” with “balanced ride and handling and a suspension that dispenses with ruts and potholes with unflappable German efficiency.” BusinessWeek says “it's further over on the soft ride/comfort side of the equation than the BMW 3-Series,” while ForbesAutos reports “An optional S Line Sport Package for the less-expensive models includes upgraded suspension components and performance-oriented tires. These sharpen handling, particularly when teamed with the quattro AWD.”

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2008 Audi A4 Cabriolet

Comfort & Quality

The 2008 Audi A4 Cabriolet coddles the passengers that fit well inside.

Reviewers found the plush interior of the 2008 Audi A4 superior to the competition, but with the top up, things can get a bit cramped.

ForbesAutos reports that though it’s billed as a five-seater, the 2008 Audi A4 Cabriolet really suits only four—and it’s still a squeeze. “Front-seat occupants in the Audi A4 Cabriolet will find ample room; backseat space is at a premium,” they observe. ConsumerGuide agrees that front seats are "firm and comfortable," but calls the backseat "cramped." ConsumerGuide isn't impressed with storage, either, pointing out that the "trunk shrinks from small to tiny with the top down."

Assembly quality and choice of materials continue to be a strong point. Edmunds agrees, noting the "build and material quality is superlative” and remarking the "gauges offer the sort of soothing lighting you'd find in a chic late-night bistro." ConsumerGuide mentions the 2008 Audi A4 Cabriolet delivers "impressively little body quiver typical of convertibles."

Wind noise is always a concern with convertibles, but reviewers are not overly critical of the Audi A4 Cabriolet. Kelley Blue Book suggests putting the "windows up and the optional wind blocker in place" when the top is down to turn the cabin into a "still, comfortable place to enjoy the passing scenery." ConsumerGuide reports only "modest top-up wind noise."

8

2008 Audi A4 Cabriolet

Safety

The 2008 Audi A4 Cabriolet boasts improved safety gear, but no crash testing has been completed.

The 2008 Audi A4 Cabriolet has not yet been crash tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), but it has a lengthy list of standard safety gear.

Cars.com notes that the 2008 Audi A4 Cabriolet redesign was used as an "opportunity to upgrade the Cabriolet's safety features, integrating side airbags into the front seats to protect occupants' heads.” In addition, Audi “reinforced the Cabriolet's A-pillars to protect occupants in the event of a rollover, which also causes two protective bars to deploy upward, behind the rear passengers' heads.”

According to Kelley Blue Book, "standard safety equipment includes anti-lock brakes (ABS), Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD), Electronic Stability Program (ESP), driver and passenger front- and seat-mounted airbags and active rollover protection system."

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2008 Audi A4 Cabriolet

Features

A la carte or all inclusive, the sheer bulk of optional features available for the 2008 Audi A4 Cabriolet delivers an enticing menu.

Reviews read by TheCarConnection.com found the variety of standard and optional 2008 Audi A4 Cabriolet features to be a superior mix of luxury and functionality.

Of course, the retractable fabric top is a main point of interest. ForbesAutos likes that the power-operated top can be "raised or lowered while driving at speeds up to 19 mph." ConsumerGuide adds more math, noting that the "fully automatic convertible top powers up or down in 24 sec." Edmunds is left wanting more, stating a "traditional soft top might seem a tad old-fashioned in this age of retractable hardtops."

Cars.com lists notable standard features on the Audi 2008 A4 Cabriolet as "a power roof, dual-zone automatic climate control and a large ski sack," but that's only the tip of the iceberg. According to Kelley Blue Book, other welcome features that come standard include "10-speaker audio system with in-dash six-disc MP3 compatibility, power one-touch windows, speed control, tilt and telescopic steering wheel," and a "headlamp washer system."

Edmunds suggests upgrading to the 3.2-liter engine to gain access to other standard options. These include "17-inch wheels, wood flourishes, leather upholstery, heated front seats and a power front-passenger seat."

ForbesAutos calls out "high-intensity headlamps that pivot to illuminate the road around curves" and "a navigation system with Audi's Multi-Media Interface" as stand-out stand-alone upgrades. MyRide.com also likes the "Xenon-plus headlights, a tire-pressure monitor, and rain-sensing wipers."

In terms of package upgrades, Kelley Blue Book commends the Premium Package, which "adds the highly effective wind deflector, leather seating surfaces, 17-inch wheels and 12-way power front seats." The S Line Package is another popular upgrade that includes "18-inch wheels, brushed aluminum interior trim, sport suspension and special badges"--again, according to Kelley Blue Book.

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7.8
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Styling 7.0
Performance 7.0
Comfort & Quality 8.0
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Features 9.0
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