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TOPLESS TURVY

This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Mon, Sep 3, 2007

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

TOPLESS TURVY By John Grafman

In America, variety sells. Audi is well aware of this. The company now provides a whole host of vehicles suited to almost every conceivable demand. As a result, both Mercedes Benz and BMW are feeling the pressure. One look at Audi's annual sales figures and it's no surprise. Audi provides a number of fantastic sedans, from the A8L down to the less than modest A4. The A4 sedan is the genesis of a number of other fantastic cars. Topping the range is the RS4 with its lightning-fast speed, followed by the S4, and the S-Line, and finally the base model. Another derivative of the A4 comes in the form of a convertible.

Our 2007 Audi A4 Cabriolet fitted with a robust 3.2 liter, six-cylinder power plant and the Quattro permanent all-wheel drive system can give any of its siblings a run for their money. The cabriolet shares many of the good looks one finds in the A4 family. A distinctive grill is a tip-off from a block away as to exactly what brand this is. A closer inspection will reveal the unique character provided by the S-Line package. Some of the more visible cues would be the bumpers, badges, and 18-inch five-arm alloy wheels wrapped with high-performance summer tires. Additional upgrades in this package include a sport suspension, brushed aluminum trim, and the three-spoke, multi-function steering wheel. In the grand scheme of things, this is the relative bargain. The $2,500 represents less than five percent of the total base MSRP, plus the options included in this particular car. Overall, this provides much of the same gratification one derives from any of the A4 family. A more-than-capable 255 horsepower dual overhead cam motor provides thrills with just a twitch of your toes. It doesn't take long to realize that this is not just a luxury car with sporting intentions. This is definitely a real sports car. Removing all the plastic glitz and dismantling the motor reveals an impressive production vehicle record compression ratio of 12:5-to-1. The ultra high compression is the reason behind the 3.2 FSI motor's level of efficiency.

Audi's V6, like a few of the industry's most recent sixes, is knocking on the door of what was formerly eight-cylinder territory in terms of power and smoothness. The 3.2 outshines the 4.2-liter found in the A6 Cabriolet by 4 mpg in the city and 5 on the road. The current eight does have more to offer in torque and horsepower, but the S-Line never feels like a compromise in driving. Only the stats provide the real truth of 59 less pounds of torque, and 85 ponies. Eliminating two doors, and lopping off the top provides an additional element of fun just not available on the sedan is at any price. Similar to the sedan, the back seat is still tight quarters. Trunk space also is at a premium. However, I have seen worse in convertibles. Audi also has the good sense to provide one-touch button for all for windows. One does have to look extra hard to find fault with this car. One of the oddball points is the location of the switch for the convertible top operation. Perhaps all the convenient locations were already spoken for. Nevertheless, placing this underneath the center armrests is less than convenient. Audi does reward owners with a quality cabriolet. There is no awkwardness or ungainly styling with this drop top. The interior liner material proves to be in line with the price of the vehicle. As such, the design is not an impediment for those considering this vehicle.

This isn't just another car, this is a sports car. While this is fitted with an automatic transmission, this does offer the driver the most shifting options one can imagine. As with any other automatic, the shifter can be dropped into drive, and that would be the end of the story. Of course, what fun would that be? Another click aft of the driver location provides automatic operation with the sports program. This allows for higher revving and holding a gear before upshifting unnecessarily. Bringing the center shifter to the right allows for a manual Tiptronic operation of the automatic. For those wishing they could row through a shift pattern on a manual, this allows for a little more driver interaction. Lastly, this transmission provides paddle shifting, which is similar to those found in more race-oriented sports cars. Either of the manual modes of transmission is thoughtful enough to give the throttle a little blip to match revs similar to proper manual shifting. While the automatic transmission certainly does shine, the power steering still has something to be desired. This servotronic power steering, as is in the whole A4 lineup, has an artificial quality about it. Perhaps the video game generation will feel more akin to this set-up, but the lack of a direct correlation and feel connecting the driver's hands to the front wheels just seems a bit foreign and perhaps even a bit unsettling. Just how something like this gets overlooked in a sports car is hard to comprehend.

The Cabriolet does offer the driver more than just a sporting experience. The multitude of convenience and luxury items makes this suitable for more than just a weekend outing. This is really an everyday, use it and abuse it product. And the confidence provided by a four-year 50,000-mile new vehicle limited warranty, and a four-year roadside assistance coverage program does encourage more than just a casual usage. Standard features on this model include 12-way power front seats, Audi Symphony AM/FM radio with the in-six disk CD changer. However, one can option up this with this sport seats with Perinappa leather, and the premium audio package featuring Bose premium sound and Sirius satellite radio, and let's not forget the Audi Navigation Plus. Offering a wider variety of choices is typically a good thing. With all the options Audi has in store for the driver one thing is certain, this isn't for the indecisive.

SUMMARY JUDGMENT A sports car with a practical side, and an everyday convertible with an extra dose of entertainment. Find out more at www.audiusa.com

SPECIFICATIONS Price: Base $46,950, as tested $58,400 Engine type: 3.2-litre V6, DOHC, high intensity aluminum block, with iron liners, aluminum head EPA mileage estimates City/ Highway: 19/27 Horsepower: 255 @ 6,500 rpm Torque: 243 lb.-ft @ 3,2500 rpm Drive configuration: Front engine / all-wheel drive Transmission type: Audi "Tiptronic" six-speed automatic with paddle shifting Suspension: Front: four-link with upper and lower wishbones, tubular anti-roll bar Rear: Independent wheel, trapezoidal-link with resiliently mounted sub-frame anti-roll bar Wheels and tires: Front: Cast alloy, 7.5 x 17 with 235/45/17H, Optional 8 x 18 with 235/40/18Y Rear: Cast alloy, 7.5 x 17 with 235/45/17H, Optional 8 x 18 with 235/40/18Y Brakes: Front: Vented discs 320 x 30 mm diameter Rear: Solid discs 288 x 12 mm diameter ABS, Electronic Stability Program (ESP), Electronic Brake Pressure Distribution (EBD) Overall length: 180" Overall width: 70" Overall height: 54.8" Curb weight (lbs.): 4,079 0-60 mph: 6.9 est. Top Speed, mph: 130 (limited)

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