New for 2005, the Audi S4 adds a convertible to its line-up, bringing the S4 choices to sedan, Avant wagon and cabriolet.

The S4 cabriolet is the more powerful version of the A4 and comes with Audi’s famous Quattro all-wheel-drive. The engine is a 4.2-litre V8 and comes with a six-speed manual transmission or six-speed Tiptronic automatic with manual-shift mode and wheel-mounted paddles. The S4 also has a sport suspension, with stiffer shocks and springs, stronger front and rear stabilizer bars and a 30 mm lower ride height than the A4.

The S4 cabriolet comes with a composite plastic trunk lid, which allows for the optional navigation antennae and, on U.S.-bound vehicles, the satellite radio antennae to be placed inside the trunk for a smooth finish with no exterior tacked-on pieces. The top is fully automatic and works simply by pushing a button, without unlocking handles or detaching the tonneau cover.

Standard equipment on the cabriolet includes dual-zone climate control, heated glass rear window, 18-inch alloy wheels, self-levelling xenon headlights with washers, heated windshield washer nozzles, front and rear fog lamps, a master switch to lower all windows simultaneously, cruise control, automatic heated exterior mirrors, 12-way power driver and passenger heated seats, Nappa leather upholstery, grey birch wood trim, three-spoke leather steering wheel, and six-CD changer with nine speakers.

The cabriolet outweighs the sedan by 120 kg, but the V8 is up to it; the 340 hp engine gets it off the line in a hurry, while its tight suspension and grippy tires make sure that the first turn doesn’t present a problem. With a zero to 100 km/h time of just over five seconds, this is one of the fastest convertibles in its class.

The S4 will undergo a restyling for 2006 that will give it the huge “corporate face” grille that Audi has adopted. It’s a controversial design and if it isn’t to your liking, you’ll have to act quickly if you want one of the understated 2005 models.

Unlike some items on the A4, most of the features are already on board; available options are limited to an upgraded stereo, a package including seat memory and garage door opener, and stand-alone items such as a four-spoke multifunction wheel, carbon fibre belt trim and a navigation system. Of course, at $16,225 over the 3.0-litre A4 convertible, it shouldn’t be any other way.

The S4 is built in Ingolstadt, Germany.

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