June 5, 2007
By: Jason Teller
Since the announcement and eventual arrival of the RS4 sedan in the US it has been a glass half full proposition for Audi aficionados.
The positive news was of course that the B7 RS4 was in fact offered at all, since the much revered B5 RS4 was never available in the American market. The more pessimistic view, however, held that the lack of an RS4 Avant was a glaring omission on Audi of America’s part. That single model, given its matchless performance, design and utility, was held in the very highest esteem by hardcore brand enthusiasts.
Audi of America was well in tune with the situation and sought to homologate the RS4 Avant. Unfortunately, the design of the car became an impossible stumbling block based on US vehicle safety standards. The specific problem was Avants open trunk design combined with the battery location in the rear of the vehicle. Massive costs would be incurred to either relocate the battery and redesign the electrical system or to reinforce the area around the battery. In both cases additional crash testing would be required. The cost of doing this additional design work and testing would have made the price of each RS4 Avant astronomical.
The story could have ended there with the US having received its tight allocation of RS4 sedans, however another possibility came to the forefront. Given the fact that the US is by far the biggest market for Audi soft tops in the world it made sense to bring the RS4 Cabriolet, which could be successfully homologated with little fuss, instead. Audi of America will in fact be offering the RS4 Cabriolet for 2008.
An official press release is expected within days, but weve been able to piece together some preliminary information.
The RS4 Cabriolet will be limited to about 300 total vehicles all to be built this coming fall. It will be sold only in the US, meaning Canadians are out of luck this time around. Expect similar colors to the RS4 sedan, although a titanium package will not be available. It also appears that Audi Exclusive interiors think all leather dashboard and enhanced stitching / materials will not be offered either.
The RS4 Cabriolet gets the same high-revving 420 horsepower V8 as its sibling sedan and comes with the added advantage of top down driving which allows the engine and beefy exhaust note to be heard. The vehicle is lower by 30mm compared the A4 Cabriolet in order to emphasize its sporty appearance.
Next generation materials which provide both higher density and additional cushioning are utilized in the soft top. Audi claims that the noise level inside the car is nearly identical to the sedan. The top includes a fully heated glass rear window and can be opened or closed in 21 seconds.
As with all Audis safety has been emphasized even in the open top environment. Front and side airbags are standard equipment and rollover bars are automatically extended behind the rear seats in the event the car rolls over.
Pricing and options for the US market RS4 Cabriolet have yet to be announced. That said, expect to see very similar packaging to the RS4 sedan whereby the car is nicely appointed in stock form and there is perhaps a Premium option package.
- Press Release: Audi RS 4 Cabriolet Coming to the U.S. for 2008 Model Year
- Photo Gallery: RS4 Cabriolet
- RS4 Discussion Forum