Used 1997 Audi Cabriolet Review

Edmunds expert review

What's new for 1997

Base price drops a couple grand, but at the expense of the power top, burled walnut wood trim and leather seats. Opt for the Premium Equipment Package, and these items magically reappear. Casablanca White and Cactus Green join the list of paint colors, and three new top colors debut. Leather seats can be had in two new shades, too.

Vehicle overview

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. This year, Audi makes a feeble attempt to revive interest in the Cabriolet by dropping the price and deleting the power top, burled walnut interior trim, and leather seating.

Audi's 172-horsepower 2.8-liter V-6, 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.

In an effort to provide some added individualism to consumers, the Cabriolet is available in two new exterior colors, and the top comes in three new colors, bringing the total to five. The optional Kodiak leather seating is also more distinctive this year, with two new shades of cowhide on the roster. Formerly standard equipment that was deleted for 1997 can be had so long as the Premium Equipment Package is ordered. This package reinstates the power top, the leather seat upholstery, and the wood interior trim to the equipment list. Also, by ordering this package, buyers gain access to options like competition-style alloy wheels and sport seats.

It's no surprise that Audi sells few copies of the Cabriolet in the U.S., 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 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?"

Edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.