MONTREAL – Audi AG adds new features and updates the styling of its ’07 A4/S4 Cabriolet lineup as it moves to bring the unique convertible models up to par with the rest of the A4 range.
Shown at a media event here, the new cars emanate a much bolder street presence, mainly due to the adoption of the auto maker’s corporate single-frame grille. Restyled, clear-glass head and taillights and new alloy wheel designs complement the modern look of the 2-door 4-seaters.
As with the sedan variants, unique body cladding and S-specific tailpipes, along with aluminum trim on the grille, mirrors and interior, distinguish the high-end S4 Cabriolet from the conventional A4 range.
New for ’07 is an insulated acoustic convertible top, which features denser materials for a significant reduction in road noise, the auto maker says.
The new top is standard on the S4 Cabriolet and offered as part of an optional convenience package ($1,800) on the A4 3.2 Cabriolet.
Powering the new range of drop tops are three of the same engines found in Audi’s A4/S4 sedans: the 200-hp, 2L TFSI turbo 4-cyl.; 255-hp, 3.2L FSI V-6; and 340-hp, 4.2L V-8 (S4 only). All three are previous winners of Ward’s 10 Best Engines.
The RS4 Cabriolet featuring the 420-hp, 4.2L FSI V-8 only is available in Europe, and Audi says it has no plans to import the car to the U.S.
Quattro all-wheel drive is standard on all Cabriolet variants except the 2L model, which bases with front-wheel drive and Audi’s Multitronic constant velocity transmission. A 6-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission/Quattro combination is optional ($300) on the 2L and is the only powertrain offered on the 3.2L.
The S4 comes standard with a 6-speed manual and optional $800 automatic transmission.
Underneath, all models benefit from more precise steering, larger brakes and improved suspension systems with revised spring and damper rates.
The convertibles’ interiors receive several aesthetic improvements as well, the most notable being the new Audi steering wheel that features an airbag cover styled like the new horseshoe frame grille.
Dark walnut interior trim is standard on all models, with dark birch wood and carbon fiber (S4 only) as options, the auto maker says.
Other enhancements include numerous reinforcements to improve body rigidity, along with strengthened A-pillars and support bars that deploy out of the rear bulkhead to protect passengers during a rollover. Front and side passenger airbags are standard for the entire range.
Also of note is the new MP3-capable Symphony premium audio system with the auto maker’s new Audi Music Interface technology. The system allows an iPod-like device to be fully integrated into the vehicle’s stereo controls. But unlike previous systems offered by the auto maker, the new AMI system is capable of displaying complete track and playlist information on the vehicle’s infotainment screen.
Standard pricing for the new A4 Cabriolets range from $39,820 for the base FWD 2L model to $47,670 for the 3.2 Quattro version. The S4 Cabriolet starts at $56,420.
All prices include $720 for destination and handling.
Major options include the S-Line sport package (A4 only), convenience package, Audi satellite navigation and upgraded Bose audio systems.
Although updating the A4/S4 Cabriolet lineup was necessary to keep up with the rest of Audi’s evolving product line, the changes will be short-lived.
Part of the auto maker's plan for expanding its lineup is the introduction of the all-new A5 sports coupe, which bows late next year, Audi of America Inc. Executive Vice President Johan de Nysschen tells Ward’s.
A convertible version is likely to follow shortly after, he says.
The coupe will be a premium 2-door, 4-passenger model, similar in size to the A6, while the convertible will serve as a more upscale replacement for the current A4-based Cabriolets.
A range of 4-, 6-, 8- and possibly 10-cyl. engines will power the new A5. An all-new 7-speed version of the dual-clutch Direct Shift Gearbox likely will debut on the car as well, de Nysschen says.