- Street-scorching V-8 power
- High-quality materials
- Fit and finish
- Otherworldly price tag
- Cramped rear seats (Cabriolet)
- What, no folding hardtop?
The 2008 Audi RS4 sedan and cabriolet bring rocketlike power and price tags to the otherwise humble A4 lineup.
The most powerful compacts in its lineup, the 2008 Audi RS4 lineup includes a sedan and a cabriolet model, both fitted with a 420-horsepower V-8 engine and a choice of six-speed automatic or manual transmissions. Performance is exotic-car fast; a 60-mph sprint takes less than 5.5 seconds, but fuel economy suffers predictably at 12/19 mpg for the Cabriolet.
The Audi V-8 is a thrilling choice, but it no longer makes the RS4 sedan the fastest vehicle in its class. That title goes to either the Lexus IS-F or the Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG, with BMW's M3 running not far behind. Unlike the first two but like the BMW, the Audi RS4 also comes in Cabriolet trim—at a huge price premium over even the $70,000 RS4 sedan.
Both versions begin life as rather sedate shapes, but with the right massage, they get some visual teeth. In either the ragtop (yep, the RS4 Cabriolet has a canvas roof, not a folding hardtop like the cheapest Pontiac G6 has) or the sedan, the RS4 gets deft cosmetic touches inside and out that make it look tuned, but not tweaked. One package offers 19-inch wheels and piano-black interior trim, on top of Audi's classy, well-screwed-together dash; another installs red leather on the seats and stitching on the shifter and steering wheel.
Driver and front passenger will be comfortable for hours in either the sedan or convertible, thanks to well-bolstered sport seats. But while the sedan has decent head- and legroom, the Cabriolet's rear seats are more for occasional use. The sedan's smallish trunk gets trimmed back even more in the Cabriolet and probably won't carry luggage for four.
The top itself, while fabric, is a nicely executed piece. It takes a little more than 20 seconds to raise or lower, and it insulates the cabin from harsh road noise. Inside you'll find a navi-gation system, Sirius Satellite Radio, and Bluetooth connectivity standard.
Pricing is stratospheric. The 2008 Audi RS4 sedan hovers just below $70,000 base, while the Cabriolet checks in north of $84,000 once you factor in gas-guzzler taxes and destina-tion charges. Of course, for that much money, you'd expect more than just a muscle car, and you'd be right. The Audi RS4 Cabriolet is a near-exotic in performance and in price.