Fleet News

Audi A4 Cabriolet

Audi

Review

THE sun has been beating down in Tenerife since I picked up Audi's A4 Cabriolet. On the ground, it's 22 degrees and perfect weather for roof-down motoring.

But as I make my way up through San Miguel towards El Teide and Pico de Teide - the bare, volcanic peak that dominates the Tenerife landscape - the temperature rapidly starts to drop. The clouds look unfamiliar this low and snow is falling on the island's highest altitudes.

As the Cabriolet negotiates the tortuous curves and dangerously sharp bends around the volcano, it gives a fine performance. Confident and self-assured, the Cabriolet is nothing more than a small blur twisting its way through Tenerife's kaleidoscopic and contrasting landscape.

But it is against Tenerife's lunar-like backdrop that the task facing Audi's new soft-top is put into perspective: the car stands in the shadow of its predecessor and has an awesome reputation to live up to.

The original Cabriolet was heralded a 'classic' from the very beginning. However, two years ago Audi withdrew the Cabriolet, despite the fact that its build quality and solid residual values made it an object of desire.

The line up for the new Audi range will initially be based on two petrol engines: a 3.0-litre and a 2.4-litre. There will also be a 150 bhp 20-valve turbo and a 180 bhp 2.5 V6 turbodiesel, which the manufacturer says will be the first diesel soft-top.

The tax-conscious fleet driver will be able to keep his or her benefit-in-kind liability to 27% of the car's list price by selecting the 2.4-litre auto, which exhales carbon dioxide at the rate of 229g/km. The more powerful 3.0-litre emits 233g/km of CO2 and so qualifies for a 28% tax charge.

Audi says that at least one in five Cabriolets will be paid for by company cash and hopes the car will be popular with user-choosers and drivers opting out of company car schemes.

Yet it's difficult to know who wouldn't want this car. The silhouette of the car is pure Audi. From the front, the car's heritage is clear with a flat front end borrowed straight from the Cabriolet's A4 saloon and Avant stalemates. At the rear, huge tail pipes more than hint at the car's sporting prowess.

The hood can be dropped at the touch of a button in less than 30 seconds. With the top down there is enough wind noise to remind you that you're in a convertible, but it never becomes uncomfortable.

The note of the Cabriolet's 3.0-litre V6 sounds sweet but develops a throaty growl when worked hard. With 217 horses under the bonnet there is plenty of power to drive the front wheels. There's no sprightly, neck-snapping acceleration, just plenty of torque and a comfortable ride.

Overall, the Audi A4 Cabriolet speaks quietly to drivers but with great purpose. It is a car that thousands will want but very few will get.

  • Will the new A4 Cabriolet find a place on your fleet? Email your views to fleetnews@emap.com
  • CO2 emissions and fuel consumption data correct at time of writing. The latest figures are available in the Fleet News fuel cost calculator and the company car tax calculator.

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