I was sitting at a traffic light and the guy next to me leaned forward and looking at my ride said "that's a bad mother___ ." I said thanks and shifted on when the light turned green.
Although profane, he had given Audi's RS 4 Cabriolet one of the highest street compliments. And indeed it was hard to argue his point. The RS 4 Cabriolet is based on Audi's A4. Aside from the chassis, most similarities between the two cars end with their size and general styling.
In Europe, cabriolet is another way of saying convertible. And the fire engine red, blacked topped Audi RS 4 Cabriolet is an eye catcher. It had a black honey-combed grille, black side window trim; titanium colored alloy wheels, exhaust tips, and mirrors; piano black interior trim; and floor mats with contrasting white red piping and RS 4 logo.
What's more, the convertible top was fully automatic. In other words, push a button and it opened, closed, and unlatched and latched itself. And the cloth top was a refreshing reminder of how things used to be before the advent of hardtop convertibles. I really did feel like I was in a convertible. There was also a master lever that let all four windows up or down.
Except for white piping around the seats the RS 4's interior was black. The steering wheel, gear shift knob and handle of the hand brake were covered in perforated leather. There was also plenty of RS 4 badging on the car.
The front seats were heated and so were the back pair. That seemed like a nice touch but for $84,775 it was to be expected. Heck, at those prices the seats should have been air conditioned, too, no matter the convertible top.
Although snug, the back seats could accommodate two full grown adults. When sitting up straight, our head did touch the headliner but it wasn't that bad. Besides, this car is really meant for climes were inclement weather is a rarity. What's more, the RS 4 Cabriolet itself is rare. Only 300 will be produced this model year.
But what really sets the RS 4, cabriolet or coupe, apart is its engine. The 4.2 liter direct fuel injection V8 produced 420 horsepower and 317 pounds-feet of torque. The drop top could accelerate from zero to 60 mph in 4.8 seconds. Top speed was electronically limited to 155 mph.
There was also a sport button that when pressed caused the compact V8 to deliver a far more aggressive engine note, as if it was needed. With the turn of the key, dual exhaust heated up and the car sounded like and indeed was ready to roll.
At low speeds, the RS 4 was very tame. Handling was good and the suspension was sophisticated. There wasn't a lot of body roll in the curves. Nor were there a lot of dips when braking or hood rise when accelerating.
We were confined to the city. Thus, we really couldn't get our foot in the RS 4. But the engine growl, the exhaust note and the power I felt told me that the RS 4 was truly a high performance machine.
The car had the creature comforts I expected: six-disc CD changer, satellite radio, and a navigation system and Bluetooth that changes compatible cell phones into hands free car phones.
At $85,000 I shouldn't have to say if you care about the price of gasoline, the Audi RS 4 Cabriolet is not for you. The car has an EPA rating of 12 mpg in the city and 19 on the hwy. Audi tells customers on the sticker that the expected range for most drivers is 9 mpg in the city and 16 mpg on the hwy.
Still, the 2008 Audi RS 4 Cabriolet is a lot of car despite its high price and no doubt the 2009 model will get the same respect.