September 15, 2001

IAA 2001: The New Audi A4 Cabriolet
Text and pictures courtesy of Audi AG

Throughout more than nine years in production, the Audi Cabriolet came to enjoy the status of a veritable cult object. Now the time has finally come for its long-awaited successor: Audi is presenting the new A4 Cabriolet at the Frankfurt Motor Show. Sales commence on September 14, 2001; deliveries of the four-seater car with fully automatic hood will start in April 2002.

The new model, which is 4.57 metres long and 1.77 metres wide, incorporates the classically elegant characteristics of the Audi Cabriolet in a new design, at the same time underlining the sporty image of the Audi brand.

One thing is already certain: the uncompromising dynamism of the V6 engines, developing up to 162 kW (220 bhp), and the aluminium suspension, coupled with typical Audi simple but elegant design and exclusive equipment, will also characterise the production version of the A4 Cabriolet - the perfect basis for a new kind of driving experience. There's no doubt that the new Cabriolet is the emotional spearhead of the sporty A4 model family.

The predecessor: Audi Cabriolet - a history of success

72,000 customers worldwide - around 45,000 in Germany - opted for the Audi Cabriolet between the time it went into production in May 1991 and the end of production in July 2000.

The first version of this open-top four-seater was based on the Audi 80 and had a 2.3-litre five-cylinder engine developing 100 kW (136 bhp). The range was gradually extended to four engine versions throughout the model's production life. A move which represented a new departure in this class was the launching of a 1.9 four-cylinder TDI version with an output of 66 kW (90 bhp).

This version helped TDI technology break into the domain of open-top cars. In Germany alone, its market share was over 20 percent for quite a number of years. The top engine version of the outgoing model was a 2.8-litre V6 developing 128 kW (174 bhp).

Dynamic and exclusive: the design

The Audi A4 Cabriolet is a vehicle whose temperament and unique qualities are obvious at first glance: the flat front end, the subtle wedge shape and the powerfully contoured tail with visible tailpipes are clear indications of the sporting prowess that it has inherited from its designers.

The double radiator grille with chrome surround and the flat headlights with three-tube design behind a clear-glass cover indicate that the Cabriolet is a member of the A4 model family.

Like the saloon and Avant, the Cabriolet has a design characterised by a scrupulously economical approach. No swage lines or edges interfere with the dominant flat, taut surfaces and expansive arches. The result is an unaccustomed harmony of opposites: tranquillity and forward urge, geometric precision and palpable emotion.

The geometry of the joins is mapped out with exactitude, as if with a single stroke of the pen. Here, the humble body join has been elevated to the status of a deliberately placed structural feature on a large-surface sculpture, instead of a mere line of contact between two body sections. Vertical joins connect the car's underbody with the headlights; the bumpers genuinely seem to be supporting the lighting units.

The pronounced, circular wheel cutouts and the basic shape of the silhouette leave the onlooker in no doubt as to the Cabriolet's design similarities with the current A4 saloon and Avant.

Nonetheless, with its powerful proportions and the unique, overtly dynamic shape of the front and tail ends, it retains an extremely individual aura. The windscreen frame with its aluminium finish and the aluminium strip along the waistline additionally underline this distinctive design.

Even with the hood closed, the dynamism and harmony of the silhouette are preserved. The wide arch of the roof's outline, without any visible ridges created by the linkage, accentuates the body's flat proportions and the subtle wedge shape of the unit as a whole.

The harmonious tail-end unit benefits from a new aerial system for radio, telephone and navigation system that is integrated into the luggage compartment lid, away from view.

The outstanding material quality and finish of the interior are typical of Audi. The interior design, perfectly matched to the styling of the exterior, plays a significant part in giving the entire Audi A4 Cabriolet an elegant overall appearance.

Its distinctly sporty driving area is carried by the striking centre console. Round air vents accentuate the overall dynamic character. In this way the interior of the Cabriolet is also kept deliberately distinct from that of the other A4 models, consequently demonstrating its exclusiveness.

Powerful and refined: the engines

Two powerful V6 engines provide the front-wheel-drive Audi A4 Cabriolet with the necessary propulsion: the new 162 kW (220 bhp) 3.0-litre unit with aluminium engine block and continuous camshaft adjustment and the 2.4-litre version boosted to 125 kW (170 bhp) will be available at market launch. With a peak torque of 300 or 230 Nm respectively, they make supreme traction from any speed as much fun as extremely swift acceleration from a standstill.

At the same time, both engines are notable for their sporty six-cylinder sound and outstanding refinement - a combination that is extremely popular, especially with drivers of convertibles.

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