Audi RS4 – 2008 First Drive: Exclusivity – make something rare and, as seems to often be the case, people will clamor to have it. From diamonds to interviews to expertise, that which is deemed short in supply rises exponentially in demand, outdone only by a grossly inflated price that’s sure to follow. Simply put, we all want what we can’t have…even if we didn’t want it before we knew we couldn’t have it.
That’s the cynic’s view, one we’re admittedly quite familiar with. It also represented our initial impression upon being introduced to the 2008 Audi RS 4 Cabriolet, a drop top variant of the uber impressive sedan that will be made available to only 300 U.S. buyers. The $85,000 starting price, adjusted to include destination and gas guzzler charges, requires an extra outlay of about 20 large compared to the sedan. Our inner cynic was firing on all cylinders.
Then we started crunching the numbers. Despite less muscle under its hood, the RS 4 Cabriolet is in the same performance ballpark as the BMW M6 Convertible, a vehicle that runs about $25,000 more and is delivered sans Audi’s quattro all-wheel-drive technology. A true comparison test is the only way to feel out the winner here, but the more important point is this: The 2008 Audi RS 4 Cabriolet deserves to be considered amongst the niche of performance luxury convertibles. That’s exclusivity awarded not because of limited supply or high prices, but rather because of basic merits.
Credit for the RS 4 lineup, including the all-new Cabriolet, goes to quattro GmbH, a subsidiary of Audi that’s responsible for the S Line products as well as exclusive vehicles such as the RS 4. This performance-oriented group is focused, in part, on giving Audi street cred when compared against the likes of BMW’s M cars and Mercedes-Benz’s AMG series.