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Audi A4 Cabriolet (2002–2005)

Last updated 13 January 2016

 
3

Driving

We tried both the 220 bhp 3.0 V6 with a 6-ratio Multitronic automatic gearbox and the 170 bhp 2.4 V6 with a manual 5-speeder. Though they sit on the same floorpan as the classy new A4, not a single body panel is shared. Extra strengthening makes the new car 112% stiffer than the old Cabrio and cuts the amount of hippy hippy shake on bumpy corners. You still get a little bit if youre clumsy with the power, but certainly not enough to chatter the teeth of your expensively acquired smile.

Though it corners well, the front end feels heavy and you could never call the car nimble in the manner of, say, a MINI Cooper. Its no boy racer. You dont get a feeling of raw power from that 220bhp, nor do you feel like Michael Schumacher button-changing the box up and down. You also have to be patient when selecting Reverse from Drive. Not that any of this is relevant. After all, how many BMW M3 convertible owners ever exploit their cars outrageous 343bhp? Most drive them and lesser BMW convertibles slowly to give the world a chance to admire and envy them in their expensive status symbols. Audi Cabrio buyers tend to be less into Footballers Wives and more into understated cool. As proof of this, count the bottle blondes driving drop-top BMWs. Then count how many you see in Audi Cabrios.

Strangely enough, the much milder, sweeter revving 170bhp 2.4 is the nicer car to drive. And something of a bargain at the right side of £25k. Because, thought the BMW 318i convertible has now had a power hike to 143bhp, it still kicks off dearer at £25,220. And to get 168bhp you have to stump up £26,500 for the 2.2 litre 320i. While Im counting beans Id also better point out that, at £27,470, the 220bhp Audi 3.0 Cabrio undercuts the 189bhp Be Em 325i convertible by £710 and the 227bhp 330i convertible by £3,470. Yes, I know money doesnt matter once youre looking at £30k+. But it does at entry level and theres no doubt in my mind which is better value for £25k.

For your £3,500 over the cost of an A4 2.3 SE saloon you get a lot of other things besides the looks and the soft-top. You get pop-up rear roll-over protectors just in case the unimaginable ever happens. Theres special device inside the boot that enables you to increase its capacity when the hood is up. The glovebox centrally locks when you lock the car and the inside is protected by a microwaves so anyone sticking their hand inside will set off the alarm. Theres a new console. A passenger airbag disabling switch. Even a 12v socket in the boot to power an Eskie or a compressor to inflate a dinghy. But one thing I didnt like were the no-charge optional protruding seven arm alloy wheels. Make sure you go for one of the other designs, preferably with wider 215 tyres, or youre going to crunch your alloys the first time you pull up to a kerb.

It might seem a bit strange but the next engine option planned isnt a cooking 2.0 litre 130bhp four. Its the 155bhp V6 TDI, with optional Multitronic box. Apparently German mums and dads have a thing about diesel convertibles and 20% of the old Cabrio sold in The Fatherland were oil burners. The big benefit of this here, of course, is reduced CO2 output which, in turn, cuts company car BIK tax liability. Not too sure what it does for the drivers chances, though, as he rattles past gaggles of girls sitting outside the local wine bar. He might as well have a Definitely Married with Kids sign hanging on the back.

List Price from £29,255
Buy new from £23,088
Contract hire from £226.34 per month
 

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