What's New for 1998
Based on the ancient 80/90 platform from the late '80s, the Cabriolet soldiers on with minimal change. A new steering wheel design is standard, and the Audi logo disappears from the side moldings.
Audi has been selling the Cabriolet for several years now, with little success. A high price, a limp powertrain and an aging design (based on the old 90 Coupe) have steered buyers to BMW, Saab and Ford showrooms in search of a top-down fix. This year, Audi makes no attempt to revive interest in the Cabriolet. Virtually nothing is new for 1998.
Audi's 172-horsepower 2.8-liter V6, mated to an automatic transmission and hauling around nearly as much weight as the A6 wagon, feels anemic in this application. A manual gearbox would improve matters, but is not available at any cost.
It's no surprise that Audi sells few copies of the Cabriolet in the United States, considering that the BMW 3-Series and Saab 900 convertibles are priced in the Cabriolet's range and are more viscerally satisfying automobiles. Buyers looking for both luxury and speed can get a loaded Mustang GT convertible and save a few grand, or pop for a similarly-priced Cobra variant. The BMW, Ford and Saab convertibles have more character than the Audi, and are more fun to drive. Audi needs to go back to the drawing board on this one, and we doubt that the upcoming TT roadster is the answer, unless the question is, "What 20th century automobile looked the most like Miss Piggy?"