- by Bob Plunkett, avtomobilev.ru Staff Writer
LAS VEGAS, Nev. -- A straight-arrow stretch of U.S. 93, smooth blacktop
shooting across the Nevada desert out of Las Vegas without a trace of
on-coming traffic, serves as our launch pad to experience the high-speed
capability of the souped-up and low-slung S4 Cabriolet by Audi of Germany.
This bullet-shaped convertible, derived from Audi's A4 compact series,
skews toward that rare and sporty realm of refined European muscle cars
with its big V8 engine aboard and a six-speed gearbox.
Pushing the pedal to the floor reveals that it can run with bedrock stability
as if rooted to the road with not a twitch of doubt that it can handle
uber-speeds of an autobahn racer.
We push it up to twice the legal limit before nerve backs us off the
throttle, but still it shows there's more in reserve, feeling like the
swiftest sled on the planet.
Yet this car is also acts wicked when sent into a snaky set of turns
because S4 stocks weight-saving aluminum components in the suspension,
as Audi's Quattro system for traction grip on every tire sets up a curve-craving
machine which seems to defy the inertial laws of physics.
The roller-coaster route on Nevada 168 through scarlet sandstone canyons
in the Valley of Fire becomes a playground for S4 as it zigs and zags
in tune with each corner as four high-performance tires hold a firm grip
around the tightly constructed curves.
So much strength, such corner-cutting agility and the ability to virtually
fly across the land -- all of these vaunted traits apply to the S4 Cabriolet.
However, the car camouflages well to all but educated eyes, as it looks
like a conventional convertible, rather roly-poly round in form, with
the four-seat cockpit -- lined in fine leathers and rigged with power-motivated
equipment -- of a fancy luxury vehicle.