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Future models - Audi - A4 - Cabriolet

Audi drop-top a dynamics dynamo

Elegant: Audi's new Cabriolet is based on the recently launched A4 sedan but has been designed to provide a more sporting driving experience.

Audi unveils its all-new four-seater convertible

Audi logo9 Aug 2001

AUDI has provided the first glimpse of its all-new A4 Cabriolet, due to make its international debut at next month's Frankfurt motor show.

The newcomer goes on sale in Europe in mid-2002 but is not due here until early 2003. European-spec versions will be offered with a choice of 2.4 and 3.0-litre V6 engines - but we are likely to get only the latter, although this is yet to be confirmed.

Audi Australia spokesperson Anna Burgdorf said the Cabriolet was "a moving target" as its launch is still at least 18 months away.

Ms Burgdorf said the newcomer would be priced in line with its German rivals, which suggests a sticker priced around $100,000 for the 3.0-litre version - given that the BMW 330Ci convertible costs from $106,450.

Based on the recently launched A4 sedan, the roofless car measures 4.57m long and 1.77m wide - about the same as the former even though it has two less doors.

Audi's last contender in the four-seater convertible segment was the 80-based Cabriolet - discontinued here in 1999. Powered by a 2.6-litre V6, this car was priced at $86,990 for its entire seven-year local lifespan.

Stylistically, the newcomer is clearly a descendent of the last Cabriolet, mimicking its ancestor's profile faithfully. But it promises to be far more accomplished dynamically, built as it is on far more modern underpinnings - including lightweight aluminium suspension that is claimed to enhance agility and ride comfort.

Audi's engineers have also lowered the ride height compared with the sedan and Avant models to give it a sporty stance and sharpen its handling.

In addition, the Cabriolet's body is 112 per cent more rigid than its predecessor - which is claimed to further improve handling and refinement levels.

The car's safety also profits from the body's rigid structure and Audi says the Cabrio can match the A4 sedan's four-star performance in Euro NCAP testing.

Audi says the Cabriolet's subtle wedge shape, rounded tail and prominent tailpipes are pointers to the car's sporting aspirations. It also gains added individuality through its brushed aluminium windscreen frame and aluminium strip along the waistline.

Under the bonnet lurks a 3.0-litre V6 that cranks out 162kW and 300Nm - more or less on par with the engine that powers BMW's 330Ci. The smaller 2.4-litre powerplant - which we are unlikely to get - generates 125kW and 230Nm.

Mated to the engine is a continuously variable multitronic transmission that Audi says combines the dynamic qualities of a manual gearbox with the convenience of an automatic.

Like Mercedes-Benz's SL, the A4 Cabriolet features an active roll-over protection system comprising two protective bars that pop up within milliseconds if an onboard sensor detects an imminent rollover. Active safety features include ESP (Electronic Stability Program) with hydraulic brake assist.

The wheelbase is 100mm longer than that of its predecessor and Audi claims this means considerably more room in all directions. Luggage capacity has grown to 315 litres when the hood is closed and 246 litres with the roof down - a dimension that Audi says puts the A4 Cabriolet ahead of key competitors.

Standard features will include a fully automatic hood, front and side airbags, climate control air-conditioning, electric windows, remote central locking, Isofix child seat mountings on three seats and 16-inch alloy wheels.

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All future models

A4 pricing

Motor industry news

GoAutoNews is Australia’s number one automotive industry journal covering the latest news, future and new model releases, market trends, industry personnel movements, and international events.