I drove both new and used BMW's and Mercedes before I picked my 5-year-old S4 Cabrio. Haven't regretted my choice for a second. I think of this car as the "ultimate compromise." You can speed top-down through the sweepers of Big Sur in Summer or tackle the hills at Tahoe in the winter. You can hoon it like a teenager, or ferry the kids to grandma's in safety and comfort. And oh, the engine! It's the finest engine I've ever owned - power and torque and an understated rumble. It's hard to say how this car could be improved. A hint: the 2005 tends to be ~$10k cheaper than face-lifted 06-09 models, even though it's almost exactly identical under the skin.
Time to debunk some myths about this car that previous owners seem starstruck over
1/ The engine....well yes its ok but thats it, after all 340hp in a 3700lb body is NOT going to set the world on fire! For comparison the then new C5 vette in 1997 made 345hp and weighed 3400lb. So WHY does the S4 feel so lively?
Very simple, its all in the gearing!
It is running the equivalent of a 4.11 final drive which as any gearhead knows will give you blinding acceleration and instant thrust through the gears at the expense of fuel economy.
Which brings me to..
2. Fuel economy...TBH I do not find it to be awful, I average 19-20mpg and given the facts on the gearing is about right. Now if we were to swap the gearing to similar to a 1997 vette came with( 2.87, 3.23 or 3.42 if memory serves) you would see a large increase in average mpg, probably 5 to 6 mpg more. But then your highly rewarding impetus would be diminshed, oh well.
Please do not get me wrong, I am NOT critical of the car at all, but it is not a miracle motor some claim, just a good old fashioned combination of sound engineering and gearing.
Moreover Audi are to be praised for having the corporate balls to build this the way they did although in the mid 2000,s the economic rug if you like had not been pulled out from under the vast majority of Americans.
Drive and enjoy, prepare for high maintenance cost and so so fuel economy.
I bought this car in late 2004 and after a year and half, I figured I could finally do a complete review of it. I cross-shopped and found the S4 cab was best all-around. Up to 80 mph, the wind noise with the open top is astonishingly low - the best of any convertible I've ever been in. The handling is superb for a convertible, but remember it is a front-heavy AWD vehicle, so drive it correctly or helloooo scary understeer - learned this at an Audi Club driving event. When done right, it's awesome through the twisties. Overall, this is a grown-up, amazing sleeper of a cruiser.
The Audi S4 Quattro soft-top is a beautifully manufactured machine. I think that the degree of attention to detail; both fom both an ergonomic and design standpoint are about the best in the business. I have owned Mercedes Benz, Porsches, including a Turbo Carrera, a 1987 Maserati Quattroporte, GTO, Morgan +4, BMW Z3, but this Audi SA Cabriolet is the most "together" car I have ever owned. The 335HP V-8 coupled with the smooth 6 speed shifter is a joy. Sure, not Ferrari fast, but driving in Los Angeles is more about responsive on-tap acceleration and Quattro manuverability. The electric covertible top is a piece of enginneering beauty.
Powerful, responsive, attractive, interior is nicely appointed. The quality of the parts and appointments is high. Not surprisingly, a gas guzzler. The upgraded stereo and satellite radio system is a nice addition