Audi RS4 Cabriolet
With temperatures soaring, where better to test Audi’s red-hot new RS4 Cabriolet than the UK?
Combining the stunning performance of the RS4 saloon with the open-air benefits of the drop-top A4 sounds like a recipe for success – and this is largely the case. The hot cabrio looks and sounds awesome. However, enthusiastic drivers will prefer the cheaper saloon and Avant estate models, because while the Cabriolet is impressively capable, the less rigid chassis takes the edge off the driving experience.
Phew, what a scorcher! With temperatures soaring, where better to test Audi’s red-hot new RS4 Cabriolet than the UK? The latest addition to the firm’s line-up is the first drop-top to wear the famous RS badge, and has already impressed us on an early test drive in Europe. However, we couldn’t wait to try it out on traditional British roads to see how it fares.
As with the RS4 saloon, it rides 30mm lower than the standard car and boasts noticeably flared wheelarches. They cover distinctive 18-inch alloys and combine to give the rapid cabrio a purposeful stance.
The slatted front bumper and polished metal windscreen surround also help identify it from lesser models in the range. Inside, you’ll find the usual high-quality trim, while on the centre console is a starter button for the car’s stand-out feature – its engine.
It’s the same 414bhp 4.2-litre V8 as in the saloon, and the pace is electrifying, even though this model is heavier. An extra 195kg adds two-tenths-of-a-second to the 0-60mph time, but the RS4 still hits the mark in 4.9 seconds.
A simple tweak of the right foot is all it takes to unleash this surge of power, especially when you activate Sports mode using the steering wheel-mounted button. It sharpens throttle response and prompts the electrically adjustable bolsters on the bucket seats to grip you even more tightly.
If you do find somewhere to stretch the Cabriolet’s legs, you’ll find that it’s impressively refined, and with the hood in place the cabin is nearly as quiet as the saloon’s. Lowering the fully automated roof takes 21 seconds, and once folded even high motorway speeds are free from buffeting.
Driving with the top down also allows you to get the full benefit of the glorious V8 soundtrack, which has a distinctive and charismatic burble.
However, the RS4 Cabriolet isn’t just about looking and sounding great. Thanks to Audi’s quattro all-wheel-drive set-up, it handles superbly, too. There’s tremendous grip, body roll is well controlled and the absorbent ride smooths out all but the biggest bumps.
Yet despite the extra chassis strengthening, the Cabriolet can’t match the tin-top model on uneven roads. While it’s admirably stiff for a four-seater convertible, there are more shakes and vibrations – and the faster you go, the more obvious they become. Another area where the four-door scores over the convertible is in terms of practicality. Boot space is limited by the fabric hood, and the optional RS bucket seats only make a token effort to tilt forward, so rear access is limited.
Then there’s the RS4 Cabrio’s price. It costs nearly £60,000, and you could buy an entry-level Porsche Cayman for that money and still have enough change left over to get a Volkswagen Eos! However, with the first year’s allocation of 150 models already spoken for, ownership will be highly prized and strong residuals are guaranteed.
Few cars can match the RS4’s cross-country abilities, and the addition of a convertible makes for a truly unique, if somewhat pricey, proposition.