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Kelley Blue Book ® - 2003 Audi A4 Overview

Vehicle Overview from Kelley Blue Book

KBB.com 2003 Audi A4 Overview

Audi Revives the Cabriolet

It's been a long wait, but after nearly a four-year absence, Audi will once again be able to offer its customers something to rival the BMW, Saab and Mercedes convertibles. The A4 Cabriolet brings all the sophistication and artistry Audi is known for, at a price that is bound to have the competition scrambling back to the drawing board.

Based on the all-new A4 platform, the two-door Cabriolet inherits a great deal of hardware from its sport sedan sibling. But the Cabriolet also has its own personality, with equipment and styling cues all its own; take for example the brushed aluminum trim that runs around the windshield pillar and surrounds the passenger compartment. There are also changes invisible to the naked eye but that can be felt while driving, such as the Cabriolet's taut reinforced body. With its steel roof removed, a convertible tends to twist and flex more than a rigid sedan. Over time, this motion can lead to squeaks and rattles as well as misalignment of the convertible top. The A4 Cabriolet exhibits minimal flexing—even during hard back-and-forth cornering—and feels remarkably solid, a good sign that this convertible will hold up well as the years pass.

The Cabriolet is powered by Audi's muscular 3.0-liter V6 engine rated at 220 horsepower. Later in the model year, Audi says it will release an even less expensive version of the Cabriolet featuring a little less content and offering the 1.8T turbo-charged engine as the sole power source. For now, the Cabriolet will be offered only with front-wheel drive and only as an automatic, although that automatic just happens to be Audi's revolutionary CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission). The CVT has less moving parts, is better at delivering the engine's maximum torque at low speeds, and shifts without as much as a hiccup.

On the road, the A4 Cabriolet is a joy to drive. You'll love the way the CVT reacts once you punch the gas, running the tach needle all the way to the redline before the simulated shift feel kicks in. Even though a CVT uses a single belt running between two pulleys, essentially eliminating gear changes, Audi has programmed the transmission to feel as though it is shifting gears. This is done for the benefit of owners unaccustomed to the shift feel of a CVT. The 3.0-pulls strongly, though in hard corning the front-wheel-drive Cabriolet does exhibit some plowing and torque steer. Audi has equipped the Cabriolet with a series of electronic assists, including traction control and ESP (Electronic Stabilization Program) that intervene to bring the car back under the driver's control before anything too serious can happen.

With the top in place, there is only the faintest rush of air heard outside and with the top down, the interior experiences very little wind buffeting, especially with the rear wind screen in place. The power operated top works quickly and with little noise or fuss. It stows itself underneath a fiberglass cover that when closed, adds to the Cabriolet's clean, uncluttered lines.

Though it can handle like a performance sedan, most Cabriolet drivers will never push the car to extreme limits. Instead, we imagine most will enjoy the luxuries that abound within the cabin and also the luxury of sharing that space with three other adults. The clever Cabriolet design gives the car a usable back seat and still manages to accommodate a trunk larger than a breadbox. The Cabriolet's dash and door panels differ from those of the A4 sedan, and are beautifully crafted from the finest textured plastics and inlaid wood. The seats are of the same high standards, with a 12-way power adjustable driver's seat and 4-way adjustable lumbar controls. Safety is also of paramount concern, especially when designing a convertible, so Audi has equipped the Cabriolet with dual front side impact airbags and a roll-over protection system that activates two rear support posts, located directly behind the rear seat headrest. Six separate onboard sensors monitor the car's stability at all times and will set the system in play if they detect the vehicle is about to flip or roll.

Audi knows its customers as well as it knows the competition, so every A4 Cabriolet 3.0 comes standard with such advances as fully automatic dual-zone climate control, 16-inch alloy wheels, power-heated outside mirrors, one touch up/down power windows, remote keyless entry, retractable headlight washers, tilt/telescopic steering wheel and a 180-watt sound system with a 6-disc in-dash CD changer. Options including an onboard navigation system, auto-dimming exterior mirrors, Xenon headlights, a 225-watt Bose sound system and heated leather sports seats.

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